On June 18, Bamyan Governor Dr. Habiba Sarobi dedicated Band-e-Amir National Park in central Afghanistan. Vice President Karim Khalili; National Environmental Protection Agency Director-General Prince Mostapha Zaher; Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Asif Rahimi; U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry; citizens of Bamyan; and NGO representatives gathered at Band-e-Amir’s pristine lakes to celebrate this important step towards protecting Afghanistan’s environment. The dedication is the result of years of effort on behalf of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, including the passage of the Environmental Law in 2007 and the park’s official establishment on April 22.
The centerpiece of Band-e-Amir is a series of six clear, azure-blue lakes in an austere setting of high-altitude red limestone cliffs. Covering 59,000 hectares, the park’s combination of desert, water, and rock make for landscapes that should be preserved for future generations. Since 2006, the United States Government and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have been working with the Government of Afghanistan and local communities surrounding Band-e-Amir to establish the national park and develop a park management plan. Now, park management is directed by the Band-e-Amir Protected Area Committee (BAPAC), a government/community collaborative body that enables local residents to provide input into the management of their land.
Photo: USAID/Sarah Siegel
A pristine lake at Band-e-Amir National Park.
The national park and expected growth in domestic and international tourism will lead to increased economic development in the Band-e-Amir area. Band-e-Amir and Bamyan Province are secure areas in Afghanistan, and environmentally friendly hotels and restaurants are under construction to meet the needs of future visitors. The growth of the tourism industry will improve the lives and income potential for local residents, reducing their dependence on subsistence agriculture.