Acknowledgements 5 Glossary 6 List of Tables 8 List of Figures 9 List of Boxes 10 Pakistan Fact Sheet 11 Executive Summary 12

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1. Preparation of this Report

This report has been compiled and analysed through an extensive consultative process, involving eleven core experts and technical input from various other individuals and organisations. LEAD-Pakistan provided its office, equipment, Internet facilities and one of its Fellows, who co-ordinated this project. Most of the contributions in the shape of case studies were obtained from LEAD Fellows. Without the input of LEAD-Pakistan, a project of this magnitude could not have been possible in the limited budget and time. Resource persons and vital information was supplied by the MELGRD, through a series of meetings. The information contained in this report has been correlated using the following steps:

Step I: CBD and UNEP guidelines were downloaded from the Internet and analysed by the principal author at LEAD-Pakistan. Terms of Reference (TORs) were developed and sent to 11 sector experts in fields related to Biodiversity.

Step II: These sector papers were analysed at LEAD-Pakistan in the light of the guidelines and improved through a number of meetings with all the stakeholders such as LEAD-Pakistan, MELGRD and the experts involved in the drafting of this report.
Step III: Related experts, mostly LEAD-Pakistan Fellows, were contacted for the preparation of case studies. Concerned organisations were also contacted in this regard.

Step IV: All collected material, expert papers and case studies were compiled at LEAD to form the National Country Report.

Step V: A seminar was organised by the MELGRD to analyse and review the contributions made to the report.

Step VI: The deliberations of the national seminar were incorporated and the report was sent to UNEP for comments. Finally, the comments of UNEP have been incorporated in this report.

A final seminar was held by the MELGRD in collaboration with LEAD-Pakistan in Islamabad. Seventy leading experts, contributors and institutions related to Biodiversity participated. The participants approved the report and gave suggestions for improvement.

The final report incorporated the decisions of the seminar. The final draft was sent to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the CBD International Secretariat in Montreal, Canada. This report incorporates the suggestions and comments of these organisations.

Given the very limited financial resources, this task has only been accomplished due to the co-operation of leading experts, the in-house capacity of LEAD-Pakistan and government agencies dealing with the diverse issue of Biodiversity. The subject of Biodiversity is a fundamental subject in the LEAD curriculum. The process of this report has triggered much thinking amongst the country’s scientific community. This is on the gaps in the country’s commitments to the CBD. This report covers the status, trends and threats of Biodiversity, while the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) outlines the strategy on what should be done and how. This report should not be considered as a substitute to the BAP. Efforts have been made not to repeat what is already available in the BAP.

The Core Experts

This report has been prepared using contributions from 11 core experts as given in Appendix H. Syed Mahmood Nasir, Fellow, LEAD-Pakistan, Cohort 5, worked as the co-ordinator and principal author. Individual contributors are mentioned in Appendix H. In addition, Figure 1.1 shows a sector-wise breakdown of the contributors.

Figure 1.1 Sector-wise Distribution of Contributors

1.1 Background

1.1.1 What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity or biological diversity is defined as:

“The variability among living organisms from all sources including inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems (CBD 1992).”

Biodiversity is recognised at three levels: the gene, the species and the ecosystem levels. Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on earth. Estimates of the total number of species in the world range from 2 to 100 million. It is estimated that only 1.5 million species have actually been studied.

This report has been prepared to fulfil Pakistan’s obligation as a Party to the CBD under Article 26 of the Convention, which states that:

Each contracting party shall, at intervals to be determined by the Conference of the Parties, present to the Conference of the Parties, reports on measures which it has taken for the implementation of the provisions of this Convention and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives of this Convention.”

The second Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention, held in November 1995, decided that, “The first national reports by Parties will focus in so far as possible on the measures taken for the implementation of Article 6 of the Convention, General Measures for Conservation and Sustainable Use, as well as the information available in national country studies on biological diversity, using as a guide the annex to this decision.”

This report provides a general description of the components of biological diversity in Pakistan, including descriptions of different habitat types, their present condition, important plants and animals, their status, and major threats to these habitats and species. The report also presents an overview of the various strategies, policies, legislation, programmes, and projects initiated before, and as a result of, the signing of the Convention.

1.1.2 The Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity was opened for signature on 5 June 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro. The Convention entered force on its thirtieth ratification on 29 December 1993. Since then, it has received 176 signatures and 159 ratification. In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared 29 December as the International Day for Biological Diversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed by Pakistan on 5 June 1992, and was ratified by the Cabinet on July 26 1994. Through the Convention, Pakistan and other signatory countries are involved in an international partnership to help halt the global loss of biological diversity. The Convention addresses biological diversity at the genetic and ecosystem level, and provides a framework for its conservation and sustainable use.

The overall objectives of the Convention are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources.

The Convention was developed in recognition of the environmental, social, cultural and economic value of biological diversity, both now and in the future, and its significant on-going reduction around the world.

1.1.3 Pakistan’s Obligations

As a Party to the Convention, Pakistan is obliged to the following general commitments:

  • Take general measures for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity;

  • Identify and monitor components of biological diversity, and activities that have an adverse affect on biological diversity;

  • Adopt measures for in-situ conservation, including a system of protected areas, the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded areas, and the development of legislation and other regulatory provisions for the protection of threatened species and their populations;

  • Adopt measures for ex-situ conservation, including research on plants, animals, and micro-organisms, and measures for the rehabilitation and reintroduction of threatened species;

  • Integrate the consideration of sustainable use of the components of biological diversity into national decision making;

  • Adopt measures that act as incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity;

  • Establish and maintain programmes for scientific and technical education and training in measures for biological diversity conservation. Promote and encourage research and training that contributes to biological diversity conservation;

  • Promote understanding of the importance of, and the measures required for, the conservation of biological diversity;

  • Ensure environmental impact assessment of projects likely to adversely affect biological diversity with a view to avoiding or minimising adverse impacts;

  • Endeavour to facilitate access to genetic resources for environmentally sound measures;

  • Facilitate access of other Contracting Parties to technologies relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity;

  • Facilitate the exchange of information relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity;

  • Promote international, technical, and scientific co-operation in the field of conservation and the sustainable use of biological diversity;

  • Take measures to provide for participation in technical and scientific co-operation;

  • Provide financial support and incentives for activities that are intended to achieve the objectives of this convention.

    The preparation of the Biodiversity Action Plan by the MELGRD has been the first major step towards the implementation of the CBD. The progress on the COP decisions, the development of indicators of Biodiversity, the clearinghouse Mechanism (CHM), the financial mechanism, Biodiversity related legislation, policies, and the institutional arrangements are discussed in the following sections.

1.1.4 The Biodiversity Action Plan

Pakistan's Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) provides a brief overview of the status and trends of the nation's Biodiversity. It outlines strategic goals and objectives and proposes a plan of action for the implementation of CBD objectives. Moreover, it discusses the co-ordination arrangements and implementation measures.

The BAP provides a strategy for action on the 13 main components of the CBD, which correspond to the articles of the Convention. For each component, issues relevant to Pakistan have been outlined, and corresponding actions are proposed. A period of one, five and ten years are provided for meeting immediate, short, and long-term goals respectively.

The plan calls for greater collaboration between government agencies, local communities and NGOs to work together as partners in Biodiversity conservation. The overall responsibility for the implementation of the BAP will fall on the MELGRD, which is also the national focal point for the implementation of the CBD.

The BAP has been approved by the government of Pakistan (GOP) and the initial steps for its implementation are being taken. The plan proposes for the establishment of a Biodiversity Secretariat that would be responsible for the co-ordination and implementation of the BAP with all relevant institutions, NGOs, and other stakeholders.

1.1.5 COP Decisions and Pakistan's Response

Pakistan has participated in all four COP meetings. Actions taken by the Government of Pakistan generally comply with the COP decisions. This first country report describes compliance to decisions relating to biotechnology; identification and monitoring, sustainable use; agricultural Biodiversity; the knowledge, innovation and Practices of indigenous people; the issues of benefit sharing and in-situ and ex-situ conservation of the components of biological diversity. GOP shares information with the CBD Secretariat on the management of the country's Biodiversity.

1.1.6 Indicators of Biodiversity

The COP and Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) guidelines require the first national report to identify indicators that will be used "… for tracking the results of the [Biodiversity] action plan and for monitoring changes in the economy, environment and society."

Article 7 of the CBD stresses the need for monitoring changes in Biodiversity, which are under threat. It also necessitates the identification of activities that have adverse impacts on the Biodiversity. The national report is also required to contain qualitative and quantitative measures of the effectiveness of implementation of projects concerning Biodiversity. The definitions of Biodiversity indicators, targets and other information tools have also been defined in the CBD guidelines, are reproduced below.


Indicators of Biodiversity summarise complex and sometimes conflicting information regarding (i) the state of biological resources; (ii) the pressures on Biodiversity; (iii) the impact of these pressures; and (iv) responses to these pressures. Indicators are determined to document the progress toward a particular objective. The performance of an initiative can be assessed against these usually quantitative measures. However, indicators have their own limitations and associated problems, which need to be considered. Examples are:

  • Macro-scale indicators can be too generalised to detect grassroots changes.

  • Most national-level indicators are country-specific.

  • Cause and effect relationships can be too complex to be determined definitively through indicators.

Targets are often linked to timetables. These are measurable objectives or concrete milestones. In addition, are set out in a planning process. Targets can be quantitative or qualitative. Meeting targets indicates tangible progress in achieving CBD objectives.
Reference points

This category of indicators includes targets, thresholds and baselines. They provide a means for observing and gauging the significance of change.


Thresholds, or standards, are usually limits that serve as an "early warning " function. Crossing such thresholds generally signals the existence of a problem that requires prompt action.


Baselines are particularly important reference points since they serve as a "starting line" for measuring change from a certain date or situation. Given the lack of available data, some baselines may need to be postulated (assumed true). Concerning the CBD, two possible baselines can be considered: (i) the pre-industrial state; and (ii) conditions in 1993 (the year the CBD came into force). The use of such baselines could help sketch " pictures" of change in Biodiversity resulting from anthropogenic impacts.


Statistics are static, quantitative measures without reference points.

As a first step to identifying and applying indicators on the different components of Biodiversity, there is a need to agree on where baselines are to be set. Fortunately, quality information on pre-industrial ecosystems, flora and fauna of the country is available from the District Gazetteers and Land Administration Manuals published by the government of British India. Subsequent data is also available, although most of this information is scattered amongst different organisations. The working plans of the Forest Department also contain documented accounts of the taxonomy of the flora and fauna.

The shortage of an adequate number of taxonomists restricts our capacity to undertake the task of monitoring trends and changes in Biodiversity. However, there are still other options available in this area. SUPARCO, the national space agency, has some capacity to monitor changes in ecosystem diversity by using remote sensing, but does not have Biodiversity research as part of its mandate. Similarly, the Pakistan Forest Institute (PFI) and the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) also have some facilities for remote sensing that can be oriented to record ecosystem Biodiversity. Realising these inherent shortcomings in Pakistan’s capacity to comply with the CBD obligations, the BAP has suggested the appointment of a national centre (or several provincial centres) to co-ordinate Biodiversity identification and monitoring activities.

To establish an indigenous capacity to measure, assess and report on sustainable development, MELGRD held a national workshop in Islamabad on indicators of sustainable development. This was held in collaboration with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in 1998. The workshop identified 77 preliminary indicators; related to economic, socio-cultural, ecological/environmental, institutional and political concerns (Appendix D). Out of these listed indicators, only one directly deals with Biodiversity i.e. habitat alteration with protected area as a percentage of total land area. The rate of deforestation and the short-run sustained yield/ actual harvest were identified as indicators for forests. No further follow-up action has been done neither is there any institutional arrangement for the purpose.

1.1.7 Clearing House Mechanism

The first meeting of the COP established the clearinghouse Mechanism (CHM). It encourages parties to develop a national capacity for the exchange and dissemination of information on the experiences and lessons gained by the parties in the implementation of the Convention. This mechanism has multiple partners and provides information to all concerned. MELGRD is in the process to establish a CHM, the first meeting/workshop will be held in the MELGRD to assess the needs, identify the institutional framework and evaluate the various options for the establishment of a CHM. As a first step, LEAD-Pakistan placed the CBD report on its website to make it accessible by all interested parties. Comments received were forwarded to the project co-ordinator of this report.

1.1.8 Financial Mechanisms

Pakistan has so far paid USD 22,701 as its membership contribution to the CBD Secretariat. The GEF provided funds for the three-year project, “Maintaining Biodiversity in Pakistan through Rural Community Development,” which ended in April 1999. The second phase of this project has commenced with UNDP funding of USD 10.36 million for the Mountain Area Conservation Project (MACP). GEF has also provided USD 10.47 million for the Protected Areas Management project. UNEP has committed USD 0.1 million for a biosafety capacity-building project.

1.1.9 Biodiversity Related Legislation

Like other parts of the world, Biodiversity was given importance only in the early nineties in Pakistan, after the Rio Summit, which highlighted the need to preserve Biodiversity. Consequently, policy or legislation was made that deal directly with this subject. A review of the existing legislation on land, water, soil, air, forests, oceans, etc. reveals that the issues and legislation addressed by the CBD have been undertaken. However, many issues of Biodiversity in this legislation are contrary to the provisions of the conservation, sustainable use and equitable benefit sharing of biological resources. Standards for industrial effluents are not fixed keeping in mind the diverse ecosystems of Pakistan. The forest and tree cutting acts given in Table 1.1 also focus on the conservation of certain species of economic value (also see Chapter 4 on forest Biodiversity). Wildlife legislation also has been made in isolation from the forest legislation, and that too focuses on game species rather than the whole ecosystem. Even the implementation mechanism for forest and Biodiversity are not effectively co-ordinated in all the provinces. The quarantine laws aim at restricting the import and export of diseases through biological material and not through invasive species or genetically modified organisms. The fisheries legislation given in Table 1.1 again focuses only on revenues for the state from marketable fish, and not on the aquatic ecosystem including plants and non-fish animals.

Table 1.1: Biodiversity Related Legislation and the Departments/Agencies Responsible for Implementation


Executing agency/ department

Environmental Protection Ordinance (1983)

Federal and Provincial EPAs

The Environmental Protection Act (1997)


The Balochistan, NWFP, Punjab, and Sindh Local Government Ordinance(s) (1979/80)

Provincial local government and rural development departments


The Punjab Tenancy Act (1887)

Board of Revenue through the district magistrate

The Punjab Land Revenue Act (1887)


The Sindh Land Revenue Code (Bombay Act 1879)


Punjab Laws Act (1872)


Punjab Alienation of Land Act (1913)


Chos Act (1900)


The Punjab Pre-emption Act (1913)


Thall Development Act (1949)


West Pakistan Land Revenue Act (1967)


Plant and Forest

The Cattle Trespass Act (1876)

District magistrates

The Punjab Forest Act (1913)

Forest Department

The Forests Act (1927)

Forest departments of Punjab, NWFP and Balochistan

The NWFP Hazara Forest Act (1936)

Forest Department, NWFP

The Kohat Mazri Control Act (1954)


The Punjab Plantation and Maintenance of Trees Act (1974)

Forest department, Punjab

The Cutting of Trees Act (1975)


The NWFP Management of Protected Forests Rules (1975)

Forest department NWFP

The Pakistan Plant Quarantine Act (1976)

Department of Plant Protection GoP

The NWFP Forest Development Corporation Ordinance (1980)

Forest Department, NWFP


The Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance (1972) and Rules (1972)

Wildlife Department, Sindh

The Punjab Wildlife Act (1974) and Rules (1974)

Wildlife Department, Punjab

The Balochistan Wildlife Protection Act (1974) and Rules (1975)

Wildlife Department, Balochistan

The NWFP Wildlife Act (1975) and Rules (1976)

Wildlife Department, NWFP

Islamabad Wildlife Ordinance (1979/80)

Capital Development Authority

Insect Biodiversity

The West Pakistan Agricultural Pests Ordinance (1959) and Rules (1960)

Provincial Agricultural Department(s)

Aquatic Biodiversity

The West Pakistan Fisheries Ordinance (1961)

Provincial Fisheries Department(s)

Balochistan Sea Fisheries Ordinance (1970) and Rules (1971)

Fisheries Department, Balochistan

The NWFP Fisheries Rules (1976)

Fisheries department, NWFP

Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act (1976)

Maritime Security Agency (MINFAL, GoP)

Agriculture and Livestock

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1890 & West Pakistan Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules, 1959

Livestock departments

The Glanders and Farcy Act, 1899

Livestock departments

The Dourine Act 1910


The Agriculture Produce Grading and Market Act 1937


West Pakistan South African Horse Sickness Rules, 1959


West Pakistan Union Council (Slaughter House) Rules 1961


The West Pakistan Goats Restriction Ordinance (1959) & West Pakistan Goats Restriction Rules, 1961

Provincial Departments

The Punjab Animals Compound Feeding Stuff Act 1974


Punjab Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Development Board Act 1974


Punjab Meat Control Order 1978


West Pakistan Animals Slaughter Control Act 1963


Pakistan Animal Quarantine Act (1985)

Animal Quarantine Department (GoP)

The diverse research institutes and organisations involved in research (Biodiversity not being the major focus) are given in Appendix C. While the projects are given in Appendix G. Biodiversity research is scattered in different provincial and federal research institutes. Although quality work is done, there is a lack of co-ordination, and paucity of research funds.

1.1.10 Biodiversity Related Strategies, Policies and Plans

The National Conservation Strategy (NCS), the Forestry Sector Master Plan (FSMP), BAP and the Forest Working Plans1 Table 1.2 deal with Biodiversity-related strategies and policies. Although these deal with Biodiversity conservation, the issues were poorly understood at the time these policies and strategies were made. The NCS deals with Biodiversity as a discipline that is a component of various subjects like wildlife, forestry and agriculture. Moreover, Biodiversity has been tackled in a non-integrated way that clearly shows lack of conceptual clarity. The forest working plans are prepared in isolation of wildlife planning or laws and have a specific objective of providing a sustainable yield of wood. Sustainable forestry and Biodiversity has not been debated in the ministries of the federal or provincial departments that deal with forestry. However, the BAP is the first comprehensive attempt by Pakistan on contemporary issues of the CBD.

Table 1.2 List of the Biodiversity Related Strategies, Policies and Plans

  • The Pakistan National Conservation Strategy 1992

  • The Forestry Sector Master Plan 1985

  • The Biodiversity Action Plan 1998

  • Forest Working Plans of all the forest divisions -----

In the provinces

The processes that led to the preparation of the legislation and policies are complicated and give little weight to Biodiversity. The implementation by the ministries and departments concerned with these policies is also not well co-ordinated.

1.1.11 Institutional Co-ordination

MELGRD is the focal point for national Biodiversity concerns. Within the MELGRD the Director General, Environment, assisted by a Deputy Secretary and a Section Officer deal with all issues related to the CBD. The policies and programmes of the following federal ministries are crucial to the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources:

  • Food and agriculture

  • Finance

  • Science and technology

The following provincial departments are also involved:

  • Agriculture

  • Livestock

  • Forestry

  • Wildlife

  • Tourism

  • Fisheries

MELGRD co-ordinates all the above mentioned concerned ministries and departments through various committees within the ministry. For technical guidance on Biodiversity and related issues a Biodiversity Working Group has been established within the MELGRD, all relevant government departments/ agencies, research institutions and NGOs are represented in this group.

The office of the IGF (Inspector General of Forests) within the MELGRD looks after all policy co-ordination, research and education related to forestry, rangelands and wildlife. Although the concepts of forest biological diversity and the ecosystem approach have not yet been institutionalised. This report is expected to give a fillip to this process. The provincial forest and wildlife departments have a separate hierarchy of officers who have no institutional arrangements for co-ordinated implementation of projects. The NCCW (National Council for the Conservation of Wildlife) is responsible for the formulation and co-ordination of wildlife policies under the MELGRD. The Zoological Survey Department conducts wildlife surveys at the federal level. The Pakistan Forest Institute (PFI) is the primary forestry education and research institute though forestry is also taught as a major subject in the Agriculture University, Faisalabad, and forestry research is conducted at the Punjab Forestry Research Institute, Faisalabad (PFRI). A list of research organisations is given in Appendix C.

NGOs like the WWF-Pakistan, IUCN-Pakistan and the Houbara Foundation are involved in conservation and sustainable use projects as detailed in Chapters 3 and 4 of this report and listed in Appendix G.

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