Juniper Forests of Ziarat has been added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), which met in Paris this week, has added 12 sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, bringing the number to 621 in 117 countries.
Juniper Forest in Ziarat is the largest contiguous natural Juniper forest in Pakistan spanning 247,000 acres. It is also the second oldest, trailing behind the one in California. Junior Forests of Ziarat is the second Biosphere Reserve in Pakistan. The first one is the Lal Sohanara National Park which is situated in Bhawalpur District.
Biosphere Reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal/marine ecosystems, or a combination thereof, which are recognized internationally under UNESCO's Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB). They are established to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere. Biosphere Reserves are designated by the International Coordinating Council of the MAB Programme at the request of the State concerned. Individual Biosphere Reserves remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the State where they are situated. The World Network is governed by the Statutory Framework adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 1995 which presents the definition, objectives, criteria and the designation procedure for biosphere reserves.
“Inclusion of Juniper Forest of Ziarat in the World Network of Biosphere Reserve is yet another step towards recognition of Pakistan’s natural sites of international significance on global level, which is a matter of great honour and pride”, says Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan.
The process for designating the Ziarat Juniper Forests as a Biosphere Reserve was initiated by IUCN Pakistan in 2010 under its UNDP funded project titled: Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into the Juniper Forest Ecosystem Production in collaboration with the Balochistan Forest and Wildlife Department with UNESCO Pakistan’s financial support under One UN Programme. To meet the criteria, a management plan was formulated and approved by the Government of Balochistan. Consultations were also held with all the stakeholders, local communities and other relevant government departments for which the Additional Chief Secretary (Dev), the Secretary Forests and the Conservator Wildlife, Government of Balochistan played an active role.