World Wide Fund for Nature Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan)
Funding support: WWF-Pakistan
Number of staff: Two (Conservation Officer. Watch-man)
Number of visitors per year: More than 4000
Overall aims of the centre
1- To provide a resource hub where communities and visitors can take advantage of interactive learning leading to sustainable future.
2- To link and engage local communities, visitors, school boys/girls and other stakeholders in the program of environmental conservation particularly focusing wise use of wetlands and other natural resources of the area.
3- To facilitate students and academia in their research projects helping development of conservation programme based on research outcomes.
Description of the centre
WWF-Pakistan has established conservation and information centres in different ecological pockets across the country Pakistan to build up interactive relations and create awareness on environment and its components among the general public. Khabeki Conservation & Information Centre (KCIC) is one of those and located near Khabeki lake, Soon Valley (Salt Range), Pakistan.
Soon Valley is part of the Salt Range Ecosystem which is an extension of the Himalaya Range. It is the highest part of the entire Salt Range with average elevation from sea level around 800 meters to a maximum 1524 meters. The mountains of Soon Valley (Salt Range) are covered with subtropical evergreen forests, subtropical semi-evergreen forests, and tropical thorn forests that provide food and shelter to a variety of wild animals and birds of national importance. Kahu (Olea ferruginea) and Phulahi (Acacia modesta) are the two principal floral species of the area.
Apart from being the core habitat of the endemic Punjab Urial (Ovis vignei punjabiensis) a wild species of sheep, it provides habitat to mammals including Chinkara (Gazelle bennettii), Wolf (Canis lupus) and Red-fox (Vulpes vulpes). Soon Valley is famous for its rich biodiversity and a unique as well as fragile landscape blended with three wetlands of national and international importance. The water surface area of these three wetlands is 1,243 hectares (3070 acres) originally with no outflow while their total catchment area is about (94147 acres) 381 km2.
Water comes mainly from precipitation, overland flow of catchment area when there is rainfall, and seasonal water springs of the watershed area. These wetlands are not only protected by the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department but also recognized Ramsar Site (Uchali Complex [32o 29’N, 72o 14’E]) as these wetlands support variety of migratory birds that rest and forage here every year during the winter. Besides wintering flock of white-headed duck, these wetlands are habitat of four other bird species listed in the IUCN Red Data Book, the Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monochus), the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) the Sociable Plover (Vanellus gregarius) and White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalenis). Furthermore, Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber), Pied Harrier (Circus melanoleucos), Greylag Goose (Anser anser) and the Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) also visit these wetlands, in addition to other species.
The lakes and their catchment areas are a habitat for 173 avian species. Apart from supporting an astronomical population of water-birds’ species, these lakes also support local wildlife species as well as contribute to sustain and regulate local climate and ground water recharge. Hence these wetlands are fortune for farming community as they indirectly support agricultural business of the Valley through regulation of local climate and ground water recharge.
The Valley is inhabited by more than 1.6 million individuals settled in the form of 34 villages and some small settlements in the forest areas. These forest settlements that represent 20 – 30 % of the total population are exclusively dependent on natural resources, rain-fed agriculture and livestock.
Main CEPA work areas
World Wetlands Day
The centre (KCIC) is providing place of interactive learning in the form of training workshops and organising globally recognized events related to environment and ecosystem: World Wetlands Day, World Environment Day etc. Moreover school children, researchers and other stakeholders primarily communities are being kept engaged with the activities like awareness walks, birds’ watching, ecotourism etc. to create awareness of the importance of wetlands, wildlife and biodiversity for a balanced ecosystem. Printed materials (Publications, Books, Brushers, Booklets and Posters etc.) are available at KCIC and used to increase visibility and outreach of awareness campaign.
Top three successes
1- Local community is somehow aware about wetlands and their ecological importance.
2- Increasing community participation in conservation activities.
3- Regular waterfowl census of three lakes under KCIC.
Top three challenges
1- Lack of financial resources.
2- Discontinuation of conservation programmes.
3- Lake of staff and Action Plan. A comprehensive and long term programme of awareness raising and environmental education can effectively engage all segments of the society and help to uplift environmental health of the area leading to sustainable future. Resource depleting agricultural activities around the wetlands is a big challenge that needs to be addressed timely.
Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Using audio-visual tools
Managing / creating habitat; Running a visitor centre; Building / maintaining structures
Engaging hard-to-reach groups; Engaging young people; Engaging the local community; Working with volunteers
Education and communication
Working with primary schools; Lobbying / running campaigns; Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials
Auditing / assessing effectiveness; PR and marketing; Running effective administration; Health and safety; Fund-raising; Project planning.
Hafiz Muhammad Bakhsh: Coordinator Conservation (WWF-Pakistan),
Ground floor Pakistan Academy of Sciences,
0092 51 2270020-3.
Website address: www.wwfpak.org