Home to spectacular and diverse landscapes including mountains, deserts, and woodlands, Afghanistan is rich in living resources and natural beauty. However, years of protracted conflict, instability and population growth have far reaching implications for the country’s natural environment. In order to preserve these precious resources and the ecological services that support the surrounding communities, UNEP is working with key government counterparts such as the National Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, as well as the Wildlife Conservation Society NGO to establish a network of protected areas within Afghanistan.
UNEP has also partnered with UNESCO in Afghanistan to incorporate environmental considerations and restoration techniques into conservation interventions and protection planning of cultural heritage sites. This will include linking UNESCO World Heritage Site protection in the main Bamyan Valley with UNEP Landscape and Ecosystem Protection work in the Koh-e Baba Mountain range, focusing on the Shahr-e Zohak site. UNEP is also working with government counterparts and local communities to develop a comprehensive natural heritage environmental protection management plan for the Shahr-e Zohak site and coordinate an environmental conservation project.
Additional achievements include:
- UNEP, working with the Government of Afghanistan and the National Environmental Protection Agency, has finalised the Implementation Strategy 2014-2017 for the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Afghanistan.
- Draft Protected Areas regulations have been finalized through stakeholder consultation and submitted to the Ministry of Justice for review and processing. UNEP is mentoring one specific large landscape site, Shah Foladi Community Conservation Area, in the Koh-e Baba Mountains.
- Development of the Biodiversity Profile of Afghanistan assessing Afghanistan's biodiversity, ecological hotspots and conservation potential, and recommending steps for strengthening the network of protected areas and support community-based natural resource management.
- Draft management plans for Dasht-e Nawar Flamingo and Waterfowl Sanctuary, Kole Hashmat Khan Wetlands, Band-e Amir National Park and Ajar Valley have been developed.
- The Bande Amir coordination committee made substantive progress towards establishment of Bande Amir as a National Park and declaration as a Provisional Conservation Area has been completed.
- Wakhan Corridor massive conservation area declared in April 2014.