The goal of the Mountain Areas Conservancy Project (MACP) is to protect biodiversity and ensure its sustainable use in Pakistan’s Karakorum, Hindu Kush, and Western Himalayas mountain ranges through community-based conservation approach.

The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Program, and the Government of Pakistan (GoP); the total budget being $10.35m for a 7 year period. The project is based on a successful 4 year Pilot Phase funded through the GEF Pre-Investment Facility (PRIF) namely “Maintaining Biodiversity in Pakistan with Rural Community Development”. The Ministry of Environment, Local Government, and Rural Development (MoELG&RD) of the GoP is the executing agency. IUCN -The World Conservation Union Pakistan is implementing the project in close collaboration with the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Department of Forests, Parks and Wildlife in Northern Areas (NA). Worldwide Fund for Nature Pakistan (WWF-P), the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP), and the Himalayan Wildlife Foundation (HWF) are the key civil society organizations collaborating in implementation.

The government agencies are creating space and enabling environment for community based conservation and will institutionalize it through review and revision of policies, laws, institutions etc. AKRSP is supporting the formation of valley level community structures e.g. VCCs and will support even wider landscape level or conservancy level community structure. It supports eco-development through its investments and collaboration in conservation and sustainable use of natural resources by the communities. WWF-P is not only implementing the awareness and education component by raising awareness of the project objectives, processes, achievements; mustering the support and participation of the stakeholders in MACP activities; catalysing mobilization of communities etc. but also participates in other activities of the project e.g. joint wildlife surveys etc. Himalayan Wildlife Foundation (HWF), because of its interest in biodiversity conservation and the management of Deosai National Park, which is contiguous to MACP valleys in Nanga Parabt Conservancy, started interfacing with communities, commonly involved in Deosai National Park and MACP activities.

A Project Steering Committee (PSC) at the national level guides and oversees project implementation. Project management is overseen and guided by two Project Management Committees (PMCs) at the regional level. Tri-Partite Review (TPR) is conducted by the GoP, UNDP and IUCNP to review annual progress and take key decisions. The Project Management Unit is located at Islamabad. Regional Offices are located at Chitral and Gilgit. There are 6 Field Units at Hunza, Astore and Skardu in Northern Areas and Booni, Chitral, and Mingora in NWFP. The project is staffed by 37 professionals, besides support staff.

MACP is based on the premise that conservation activities are unlikely to be sustainable over the long term unless local communities are actively involved. MACP builds on the pioneering work done by AKRSP in community mobilization and organization, and the lessons learnt under the PRIF Phase. The project has three major thrusts: a) empowering, organizing and enhancing the capacity of local communities to conserve biodiversity, b) enhancing the value of components of biodiversity for the local people, and c) creating a policy, legal, and financial framework that supports community-based conservation. Village, valley, and district level conservation committees are organized and take all key decisions at local levels.

The focus of MACP is on scaling up sustainable management of natural resources, especially biodiversity, from village level to valley level and ultimately to wider landscape level of conservancy. MACP activities are being undertaken in four geographical distinct conservancies spread over 16,300 km2. Two of these i.e. Nanga Parbat and Gojal are in NA and another two i.e. Tirichmir and Qashqar are located in NWFP.

The project has seven measurable objectives or outputs:

1. Develop and strengthen capacity to conserve biodiversity at the community level.
2. Impart conservation values and provide avenues for information sharing on management of wild resources.
3. Monitor the effects of project activities on biodiversity and on socio-economic indicators.
4. Assist communities in attracting outside support for long-term eco-development.
5. Develop a knowledge base about components of biodiversity, particularly those suitable for sustainable use.
6. Assist government in revising policy and legislation to better support participatory conservation.
7. Establish and operationalize endowment funds to sustain conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity at valley and conservancy level.

The program three main project components are:

  • to organize, empower, and boost the capacity of local communities to conserve biodiversity at an ecological level;
  • to enhance the relative values of wild resources (as a conservation incentive) by promoting their sustainable use; and
  • to create a policy, legislation, and financial framework conducive to community-based conservation. Locally appropriate conservation committees will be organized at the valley and district levels.

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