LAHORE - The Punjab government is establishing 12 Biodiversity Parks in the Punjab to protect various threatened species of flora and fauna in 12 districts of Punjab at a cost of Rs184.5 million. Hitherto there has been no biodiversity park in Punjab or Pakistan and all parks that are found in the country fall in the category of recreational parks. It is pertinent to mention here that 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. The parks are being developed to augment the various measures proposed in the National Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for protection of Biodiversity. The Punjab Environment Protection department (EPD) is sponsoring and executing authority in the project through concerned District Governments of Punjab, taking a leap forward to protect environment, nature and biodiversity of life. The work is in progress on development of three Biodiversity Parks in Bahawalpur, Kasur, DG Khan, which are stretched over 50 acres of land, 25 acres and 20 acres respectively. Besides, a big biodiversity park comprising 40 acres of land is being planned in Murree with the technical assistance and consultation of experts of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which works for preservation of biodiversity all over the world. According to experts, the biodiversity parks will place Pakistan in the catalog of the countries working to safeguard irreplaceable natural wealth and reduce biodiversity loss by making set up for preservation endangered species of flora and fauna (plants, flowers /birds, animals) found in Punjab/Pakistan. There is a great biological diversity available in Pakistan, however about half of the wild life species have become extinct and parks will work on preservation of the same heritage. The project title is Development of Biodiversity Parks in collaboration with City District Govts, Districts govt and business Community Director ML&I EPA Punjab will be overall incharge of the project. The nominated staff of the district govt and EPA Punjab will implement the project in consultation with research institutes. The project was launched in 2009 and its completion time is end of 2011, if completed in its stipulated time and time may extend due to enormity of the project. Under the project already designated green areas for development of parks in each district or already developed parks will be converted into biodiversity parks to preserve, protect and grow different species of flora and fauna available at local, provincial and international level. Director General (DG) EPD Dr Shahgufta Shahjehan told The Nation that the biodiversity parks would stimulate a wider awareness the environment by awakening a passion in the public protection of preservation of nature. She said new regional species of flora and fauna especially birds be housed at the parks. Work has begun at three parks, she said. She added parks would be established 12 districts including Rawalpindi, Multan, Sargodha Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Jehlum, Pakpatan, Rajanpur, Faisalabad and Murree. The land will be provided by district government(s). Besides local experts, IUCN will give consultation in the project. Secretary EPD Sajjad Saleem Hotiana said the biodiversity parks would be new concept in the country. The project will provide facility for students of schools and colleges to use it for their education in botany, biology horticulture, nature and environment besides making awareness about biodiversity in the country, Hotiana said.