ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Saturday said that all-out preparations have been made to establish country’s first Asian Leopard reserve soon in the Margalla Hills National Park, according to a press release issued here from the Ministry of Climate Change.

Spanning over 17,386 hectares and ranked as the third-largest national park in the world, the scenic national park is a national park situated in Islamabad Capital Territory that includes Margalla Hills, which forms the foothills of the Himalayas, along with Shakarparian Park and Rawal Lake. 

The park is home to rich biodiversity comprising around 600 plant species, 402 bird varieties, 38 mammals and 27 species of reptiles. Speaking to the participants of monsoon tree plantation event held here at a picturesque Pak Farid Park on Saturday, the PM’s aide said the Margalla Hills National Park is a protected area and has now become a permanent new habitat of the wild cats that previously would move to the park area and roam around its lower reaches during winter and retire to a higher altitude during summer.

“Efforts are being made to hammer out a viable action plan for controlled, well-monitored and safe mobility into the Leopard Reserve inside the park area through information guides and staff to stave off any human-wildlife encounter,” Amin explained.

Earlier, the PM’s aide Malik Amin Aslam also inaugurated the tree plantation event by planting a sapling of pine tree at the park amid presence of Pak Steel officials and others.

During the event, around 300 saplings were planted by the participants of the event during the day-long plantation activity.

Aslam lauded the Pak Farid Park for its role in promoting afforestation activities, saying the corporate entity is the only public-private partnership initiative being implemented to fight environmental degradation through public participation. It was the only Park that remained open and accessible to the public for recreational activities, jogging and physical exercises throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, he highlighted.

Malik Amin highlighted that the private sector is a key stakeholder of the government, as it has corporate social responsibility funds and capacity to timely implement projects with the positive outcomes. He also spoke on the climate risks as pointed out in the recently-launched UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report 2021, saying that around 14,000 scientists worked on that report and warned of the rapidly unfolding climate change-induced disasters if forests are not protected.

“Today, the world has recognised in the scientific findings that forests are the greatest, cheapest and the most effective way to fight deleterious fallouts of social, economic, environmental and health impacts,” Malik Amin Aslam stated. During his address at the event, Italian Ambassador Andreas Ferraris also appreciated PM’s aide Malik Amin for successfully executing the Prime Minister’s remarkable Clean Green Pakistan and Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programmes.

“I am a staunch supporter of public-private affinity for achieving environmental sustainability and friendly relationship between Italy and Pakistan.” Italy’s ambassador remarked. Speaking on the occasion, Managing Director Pak Steel Mian Aslam Farid said that the park was a great philanthropic endeavour launched by his corporation as a gift to the metropolis. 

CEO Pak Steel Hassan Farid praised the Clean Green Pakistan initiative of the government and said the corporate sector should pay back to the country under its CSR. “The Park has been established at the CDA land which was procured by Pak Steel and 1.25 kilometres jogging track has also been created in the park which was earlier an abandoned place full of wild growth and plants,” he said.