Conservation value and special characteristics
Astola Island, locally known as “Haft Talar”, or Island of the Seven Hills, was declared as Pakistan’s first Marine Protected Area on 15 June 2017. It is the largest offshore and uninhabited island in the country. Astola Island’s sandy beach provides nesting ground for many bird species and the endangered green turtle and hawksbill turtle, and its waters are home to around 35 species of coral, as well as several species of dolphin, whale, and fish. The island is used by local fishermen for anchoring their boats.
Financing for Astola island will need to come from a combination of public and private sources. There is potential for ecotourism, which is expected to support conservation as well as provide alternative livelihoods for local communities. In addition, there may be possibilities to generate revenue from fisheries development, scientific research, or partnerships with local businesses. Public funding, from government and international sources, will also be explored.
IUCN Pakistan is working closely with the Balochistan Forest and Wildlife Department and other agencies and partners to develop and implement a management regime for Astola Island. As an essential component of this work, IUCN proposes development of a Sustainable Financing Partnership to explore financing options, create a portfolio of funding sources, build capacity of relevant stakeholders, and link Astola MPA with international programs and networks.