The Gilgit-Baltistan Province of Pakistan has been historically underserved and geopolitically ignored, but it is a region of critical biodiversity and security importance. Gilgit-Baltistan borders Afghanistan, China, Azad Kashmir, Indian-controlled Kashmir, and Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – currently an area of intense instability and conflict. Fiercely independent communities live in a rugged, mountainous landscape, which means that many parts of Gilgit-Baltistan continue to function as essentially autonomous regions. It is in this province that three of the greatest mountain ranges in the world – the Himalayas, the Karakorams, and the Hindu Kush – collide. The enormous geographic diversity found there has led to an equally diverse assemblage of biodiversity, ethnicities and languages. It is also home to some of Pakistan’s most marginalized and poor communities who depend directly on environmental benefits from local ecosystem processes for their livelihoods and their very survival.
For the past 18 years, in close coordination with the Government, WCS has been working with local communities to build capacity and facilitate community based management of their natural resource base for future generations. WCS has achieved “trusted partner” status with these communities through years of persistent work building their capacity to sustainably manage their resources.