ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Thursday said that unsustainable and exploitative tourism practices in various parts of the country have badly harmed local fragile ecosystems that house wildlife species and their habitats of global importance.

Malik Amin Aslam expressed these views on Thursday while addressing as a chief guest at an inaugural ceremony of reopening of the 129-year-old historical ‘Moto Tunnel,’ which is historical and archeological tourist attraction in the picturesque and biodiversity-rich Ayubia National Park, some 76km from the capital city.

Declared as a protected area spanning over 3,312 hectares in Abbottabad district, the biodiversity-rich National Park harbours 33 species of mammals, 104 species of plants, 256 species of birds and 19 species of reptiles and several archaeological sites of global significance.

“But most of them are at risk of vanishing because of damage caused due to unsustainable tourism practices and mining of natural resources from the Park area, particularly tree-felling and contamination of natural water channels,” the prime minister’s aide noted.

Shedding light on the historical background of the tunnel, Malik Amin Aslam told participants that built in 1891 between Ghora Dhaka (presently Ayubia) to Khaira Gali (Muree) beneath the road and residential area in Ayubia Town, the 250-feet long tunnel had remained in a worse shape for want of maintenance over last several decades.

But considering the importance of the location of the Moto Tunnel and its archaeological significance, the Ministry of Climate Change and the Wildlife Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa jointly renovated and restored the tunnel to its original glory as a cultural icon under the Global Environment Facility and United Nations Development Fund-supported Sustainable Forest Management project, conservationist Muhammad Suleyman Khan, Inspector General Forest at the Ministry of Climate Change, informed the event participants.

He highlighted, “Besides, reopening and renovation of the different segments of the tunnel, the tunnel site has been provided with various facilities for tourists including paved track to the tunnel, information center, guiding facilities, sitting and resting areas and coffee shop.”