Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (BCF)
Support University of Peshawar Global Initiatives for Biodiversity Conservation
Twenty second April is celebrated every year around the world to create awareness among the masses to protect our mother earth and all its hidden resources for the sustainability of life over the globe. But April 22 2016 was Anti-Earth Day in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because on that day District Government Nowshera Khyber Pakhtunkhwa locked the gates to the University Of Peshawar Botanical Garden (UPBG), a facility that is internationally recognized by the Botanical Garden Conservation International (BGCI) London, together with 3000 other Botanical Gardens in different countries.
I will just give brief summary of the University of Peshawar endeavors in this respect.
Botanical Gardens are not just gardens for entertainment but institutions that invest in human resource capital for safe guarding the natural resources for sustainability of life over the planet. The main theme of such institutions was drastically changed by the agreement of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBI; 1992) which was signed by 193 member countries of the United Nations. Pakistan, being signatory to the UN treaties and a responsible country of UN, honored its obligation to CBI by formulating a National Conservation Strategy, Provincial Conservation Strategiesa and National Biodiversity Action Plan.
Botanical Gardens are institutions where the main focus is on education, research and conservation of biodiversity. They play a vital role in the documentation of plant natural resources and the importance of plants in mitigating climate change, addressing food security issues, and as alternate source for renewable energy. Pakistan has already faced tremendous losses in its plant biodiversity as a result of climate change, food security, energy crisis, earth quakes and innumerable environmental issues.
The Biodiversity Action Plan gave sole responsibility for establishing Biodiversity Centres in their respective provinces to the provincial governments but, for various reasons, no steps were taken by any Government until 2003. Reviewing the capacity of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government throughout the province and other line departments including academia and research organizations, the University of Peshawar Syndicate lead and shouldered the responsibility of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government in view of the prevailing situation of environmental degradation and safeguarding national interest for the natural resources by approving establishment of a Centre of Plant Biodiversity for investment in human capital at M.Phil./ Ph. D. level in Biodiversity Conservation with development of a Botanical Garden as a living laboratory spreading over an area of 100 acres.
Because of the significance of the idea, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Government, Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, world famous foreign universities, Biodiversity Conservation International London, Sarhad Conservation Network and Biodiversity Conservation Foundation jumped in and without hesitation contributed their respective shares as summarized below.
1) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government courteously provided 83 acres of land for development of Botanical Garden and Centre of Plant Biodiversity at Azakhel Park Nowshera on a lease for a period of 99 years w.e.f. December 16, 2005 till December 15, 12. 2104.
2) Higher Education Commission Islamabad graciously provided Rs. 37.861 million for development of the Botanical Garden and construction of infrastructure for Biodiversity Centre where M. Phil. and Ph.D. and high quality research could be conducted on Biodiversity Conservation and Resilience.
3) Utah State University Logan USA, Missouri Botanical Garden USA, University of Tokyo, Umul Qura University Mecca Saudi Arabia, Pakistan Botanical Garden Network Lahore, Botanical Garden University of Karachi, Botanical Garden University of Baluchistan, Botanical Garden Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad and Botanical Garden Malakand University signed MOUs with University of Peshawar for pursuing the cause for Biodiversity Conservation.
4) Biodiversity Conservation International UK working as liaison between CBD Secretariat Montréal Canada working for Biodiversity Conservation as per UN resolutions recognized the theme of the University of Peshawar initiative for establishment of Centre of Plant Biodiversity and Botanical Garden and accorded global recognition of its vision, mission and objectives.
5) Sarhad Conservation Network and Biodiversity Conservation Foundation extended untiring efforts on behalf of civil society for Conservation of Botanical Garden (1958) in Botany Department University of Peshawar and pursuance of various stakeholders for substantiating the idea for establishment of Biodiversity Centre and Botanical Garden during 2003-2015.
The project was executed so efficiently and effectively that a culture of Botanical Gardens establishment was introduced resulting in the creation of a Secretariat for Pakistan Botanical Garden Network (PBGN) by the Ministry of Environment Islamabad at GC University Lahore.
Now there are 29 registered Botanical Gardens registered with PBGN in the country. Similarly about 2000 jobs were created in the country.
The Botanical Garden has played a vital role in poverty reduction. During the developmental process and running the Botanical Garden, a large number of employees were hired. Similarly now 108 teaching, horticultural, services and security staff are working.
Botanical Garden provides opportunities for BS, M. Phil. and Ph.D. students. Moreover training workshops and seminars are arranged for students visiting from different education institutions.
Botanical Garden is the only recreational facility in the Peshawar Valley. Every year it receives an estimated one million visitors.
Botanical Garden is spread over an area of 83 acres and is covered with innumerable tree, shrub and herb species providing large surfaces in the form of photosynthetic leaves which absorb carbon dioxide and convert it into various valuable and beneficial products for sustaining life over the globe.
Natural Health Resort
Botanical Garden can be used as a Natural Health Resort for healing diverse health problems without medication, for example hypertension, sugar, obesity, arthritis, and cardiac disorders. It can be used as Physiotherapy, Psychotherapy and Horticulture Therapy Centres.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a zone where extremism was reflected in various forms. But establishment of the largest Botanical Garden in the country developed a soft image where the government and academia jointly addressed the environmental problems and established an institution globally recognized which will serve the entire region including Afghanistan and tribal areas. Such efforts have been recognized and appreciated by world fame institutions including CBD Secretariat Stockholm Canada.
In a court case between the Provincial Government and University of Peshawar, High Court Peshawar and Supreme Court declared the Botanical Garden at Azakhel Park as property of University of Peshawar and gave verdict in University of Peshawar favor during 2014.
Recent KP Government Initiative for demolishing the UPBG
District Government Nowshera Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Earth Day blocked access to the University Of Peshawar Botanical Garden (UPBG), a garden that is internationally recognized by the Botanical Garden Conservation International (BGCI) London, an organization that includes about 3000 Botanical Gardens from around the world.
Botanical Garden Azakhel as per agreement between the District Government and University of Peshawar will be used only for Botanical Garden, which is an avenue for healthy public recreation in addition to its use for education, research and conservation. No other activity can be
carried out in the vicinity of the Botanical Garden Azakhel either by the KP Government nor University of Peshawar.
Supreme Court Verdict
Supreme Court verdicts exist in various cases across the country where encroachment and construction in such places of public interest is prohibited. According to prevailing law, no one can use the University of Peshawar Botanical Garden for any purpose except its original plan like other Green Belts, Parks and Gardens in the country.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa / Federal Government Green Program
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government has launched Green Growth Initiative, where they have initiated one billion tree project in the province. Similarly, the Federal Government has initiated Green Pakistan for the entire country. Both programs are worth appreciation but the Biodiversity Centre and Botanical Garden offers a more comprehensive approach for institutionalization of National Biodiversity and for developing the capacity in the country which will provide leadership to meet the needs of the country on self sustainable ground.
Right of Litigation
Sarhad Conservation Network and Biodiversity Conservation Foundation reserve the right to go to the court of justice in the country and / abroad if any person, institution or government violates the prevailing laws of the State and UN resolutions as per Convention on Biological Diversity, National Conservation Strategy. Provincial Conservation Strategy, Biodiversity Action Plan, Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, World Trade Organization, CITES, Millennium Development Goals and other relevant clauses and tries to destabilize or go for any plan other than the theme of Botanical Garden at Azakhel.
Sanctity of Botanical Garden
All the stake holders viz., University of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government, District Government Nowshera, Higher Education Commission Islamabad and Civil Society are requested to conserve protect, promote and develop University of Peshawar Botanical Garden and Centre of Plant Biodiversity for the entire region as a source of Education, Research, Conservation and Healthy Recreation of the general public. If we fail in our duties, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will never ever see blooming a Botanical Garden.
- The Governor and Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are requested to patronize the University of Peshawar Botanical Garden as National Botanical Garden as the largest Botanical Garden in the region and allocate funds in Annual Development Program (ADP) of the annual budget of the province.
- The Chief Minister is requested to immediately open the Botanical Garden for Students, Researchers and General Public Visitors.
- Further it is pertinent to request the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government to establish Biodiversity Directorate at Provincial level to regulate and coordinate all different activities related to Biodiversity Conservation and Natural Resources as per National and UN commitments for the sustainable development.
- Federal Government is requested to extend full financial support to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government to allocate additional funds in NFC award for maintenance of Mountain Ecosystem which fall majority of them in the jurisdiction of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
- We acknowledge contributions of all stake holders for the establishment of Globally Recognized Botanical Garden during the last decade and request them to help further to continue its services as world contributor in safe guarding the Natural Resources, Biodiversity Conservation and Biodiversity Resilience in the region. .
Dr. Abdur Rashid
Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (BCF)
Professor Colony near Agriculture University Peshawar