STAFF REPORT IBD: The Central Karakoram National Park (CKNP), the largest protected area in Pakistan spread over 10,000 sq. km covering four districts in Gilgit Baltistan province, could well be the countrys most charming and sustainable tourist destination if a community-driven programme of conservation gets its way.
According to Raffaele Del Cima, Country Operation Manager and Project Director of the Pakistan-Italy government-funded project Social, Economic and Environmental Development (SEED) for the CKNP, 40 per cent of the area is covered by glaciers and it has a unique environment with rare flora and fauna.
The project focuses on villages on the boundaries of the park and they are a doorstep to the CKNP, dubbed a park between the earth and the sky. It has some of the most remote and economically deprived communities living off the land and the multitude of medicinal plants there.
The main idea behind this initiative was to attract tourism to the area and engage the people who are not mountaineers.
According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF)- Pakistan, in 2011, communities living in 23 valleys around the park had over 400,000 heads of cattle.
The park is spread over four of the seven districts of Gilgit Baltistan – Ghanche, Skardu, Gilgit and Hunza Nagar.