Palas Valley is located in Indus Kohistan in northern Pakistan. The area was discovered in the late 1980s to have extensive tracts of pristine forest. Surveys have suggested that these forests contain one of the largest populations of western tragopan in the world, with an estimate of at least 300 pairs. The western tragopan is listed as vulnerable, making Palas Valley extremely important for this species, as well as for other Himalayan pheasants and mammals.
WPA has been working with other partners to support a wide variety of conservation and development work in the valley. The aim is to conserve the forests and rich diversity that they contain, whilst also tackling the cases of poverty amongst the people in the valley. WPA has supported three projects int he area and has also provide aid after a devastating earthquake in 2005. WPA and its members raised a staggering £20,000 for the people of Palas Valley, many of whom were killed or injured, and lost their homes, livestock and livelihoods.
Western tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus
Himalayan monal Lophophorus impejanus
Koklass pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha
White-crested kalij Leucomelanos hamiltonii
WPA supported projects in Palas Valley:
Palas Non-Timber Forest Project
Project commenced: 2005
Partners: WPA Pakistan and North West Frontier Province's Wildlife Department.
The Project works with local communities to promote the sustainable collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs). NTFPs are important in rural communities however their collection can cause disturbance to fragile habitats. NTFPs collected in the valley include pine nuts, wild mushrooms and honey.
Prior to the project, the processing of NTFPs collected from Palas were often wasteful with little financial gain due to the low quality of the final product, or the lack of awareness of the market value. The project provided training and equipment to enable the collectors to produce higher quality products with fewer resources. They also introduced new produce that can be propagated in the villages and provide additional income, resulting in a decreased reliance on the forest and thus less disturbance.
Another important aspect to the project was to raise awareness about NFTPs and the importance of the forests in Palas Valley by initiating Environmental Awareness Programmes. This included providing environmental education to the younger generation and assessing their knowledge of the wildlife in the area, conservation and collection of NFTPs. In 2007, WPA built and funded a school in the valley to provide education and encourage participation of the whole community in the conservation of the valley. This provides another step towards the sustainable livelihoods for the people of Palas.
Himalayan Jungle Project/ Palas Conservation and Development Project
Project commenced: 1991
Partners: WWF Pakistan, Birdlife International and European Commission.
The aims of the project were to protect one of the richest areas of diversity in Pakistan by empowering and enabling local communities to establish sustainable, integrated natural resource management in the valley to help tackle poverty and habitat degradation. By reducing poverty and linking development to conservation, it was hoped that the biodiversity of Palas Valley would be protected.
Galliforme Monitoring Programme in Palas Valley
Project commenced: 2006
The project aims were to establish and conduct a sound Galliforme monitoring programme in Palas, with the western tragopan as the flagship species, to train and build a local survey team, and begin a monitoring scheme for Galliformes and other bird species that will continue in the future. The results of the study provide important information for the western tragopan's conservation status in Pakistan, and for its conservation management