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Tourism Putting Stress on Pakistan Environment: Study

August 17, 2023

ISLAMABAD: A study published by the World Bank has warned that tourism in these areas is putting increasing strain on the local environment, leading to increased pollution, the loss of natural habitat, and pressure on endangered species, despite the fact that the mountainous regions of Pakistan are said to offer some of the most spectacular and fascinating landscapes and ecology in the entire world.

The study Pakistan: Sustainable Solid Waste Management in Mountain Areas cautioned that “these effects can gradually destroy the environmental resources on which tourism itself depends.”

The study found that mountain regions lack access to accurate estimates of the quantity and makeup of garbage due to the region’s pronounced seasonal, regional, and tourism-related variations. Furthermore, it adds, mountainous regions pose particular difficulties due to sudden increases in waste production during the tourist season, a wide range of waste characteristics, such as a high volume of plastic and other special waste, and limited land resources for waste treatment and disposal.

With some of the tallest peaks and longest glaciers in the world, Pakistan’s mountainous terrain is rich. The Himalayas, Hindu Kush, and Karakoram are all geographical features of the nation. The country’s rivers, especially the Indus, which is a vital resource for Pakistan’s agricultural and industrial sectors as well as the nation’s potable water needs, are also fed by melting snow and meltwater from mountain glaciers.

Mountain areas typically face additional challenges due to their location, which is characterised by remoteness, topography, scattered settlements, sensitive and fragile ecosystems, lack of infrastructure and road networks, and poor institutional and financial capacity. All settlements, whether mountainous or not, face solid waste management challenges. According to the study, this makes providing services in mountainous areas more difficult than it is in plains areas.

In Pakistan, mountain tourism is growing in popularity and has the potential to contribute significantly to the local economies, but a contaminated environment would limit that possibility. Furthermore, collection, segregation, and decentralised approaches to solid waste management in the highlands can create employment opportunities. The study does issue a warning that, if carried out improperly, it might have long-lasting detrimental effects on the environment, human health, and local economy.

The study is the World Bank’s first attempt to look at solid waste management concerns in these distinctive, ecologically vulnerable places, which also struggle with high levels of poverty and mounting pressure from tourism development. The World Bank began a study titled “Supporting the Development of Sustain­able Solid Waste Manage­ment Strategies for the Mountainous Regions of India, Nepal, and Pakistan” with funding from the Korea Green Growth Trust Fund with the aim of examining the current situation with regard to solid waste management in the mountainous regions of India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Read More: Tourism to Be Given Industry Status: SAPM

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