QUETTA - “UNDP is committed to protect valued forests and species of Balochistan as Juniper forests and wildlife in the province are very precious to the whole world and they must be protected”, this was stated by Country Director of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Pakistan Marc-Andre Franche addressing a gathering at Serena Hotel Quetta on Tuesday.

Marc was briefed on the achievements in the recently completed projects named Biodiversity Conservation and Juniper Forest Ecosystem and Conservation of Habitat & Species of Global Significance in Arid & Semi-arid Ecosystem of Balochistan.

Marc-Andre appreciated the project’s encouraging outcomes and assured their support in future for same initiatives. He said that Balochistan is a rich province in biodiversity saying that natural resources, local wisdom and knowledge were also very crucial for its sustainable management.

The five year projects had been completed jointly by UNDP, IUCN, GEF and Government of Balochistan in Ziarat and Nushki districts of Balochistan.

Officials of UNDP Faiz Muhammad Kakar and Tahir Rasheed briefed the audience about the projects and their success in carrying them. Tahir Rasheed told the gathering that his team along with the cooperation of the Forest Department of Balochistan had proposed some changes in the legal framework of the department and suggested addition of an act that would help in protecting the endangered species in the province.

The Act would soon be presented in the provincial assembly for formal legislation. He said that the Act would eliminate illegal trade and hunting of wild animals which were amongst the biggest threats to wild life in Balochistan.

They said that through the two projects sustainable initiatives had been launched which included promoting awareness amongst people, training public staff and building infrastructure for encouraging the people to avoid consuming the precious assets. The gathering was also informed that the efforts of UNDP and its partners the Juniper Forests of Ziarat had been included in the World Network of Biospheres by UNESCO.

At the occasion the Secretary Forests Government of Balochistan Khudai Rahim Ejbani thanked UNDP and donors of the project for their efforts in protecting the valuable assets of Balochistan. “The technical and financial assistance provided in the projects have been very useful for the province” he said adding that such support would be required in future ensure protection to the forests and wild life in Balochistan.

Also present at the seminar were Secretary Planning and Development Zeeshan ul Haq, Chief Conservators of Forest Department, Syed Ghulam Muhammad  and Taj Muhammad, Local leaders Nawabzada Mehboob Jogezai and Sardar Naseer Tareen and members of beneficiary communities.