Afghanistan’s environmental legislation and policy strongly supports the principle of co-management of natural resources. Natural resources are primarily managed and controlled by local community governance systems with support from government agencies at the local and national level. WCS has helped establish and support community-based governance institutions and developed technical tools for resource management in 56 communities across rural Afghanistan:
The Band-e-Amir Protected Area Committee (BAPAC):
In 2007, WCS facilitated the creation and establishment of the democratically-elected Band-e-Amir Protected Area Committee (BAPAC). The committee acts as a liaison between the government and communities, provides management oversight to the first national park, and gives policy guidance on park management to the MInistry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock and the National Environmental Protection Agency. BAPAC is comprised of representatives from all villages within Band-e-Amir National Park as well as the relevant national, provincial and district authorities. Members meet regularly to discuss issues and ensure effective management of the park. WCS has also helped BAPAC develop by-laws for the committee and facilitated many of their activities.
Band-e-Amir Community Council (BACC):
WCS assisted 14 communities in Band-e-Amir National Park to form and run the Band-e-Amir Community Council (BACC), which makes decisions on natural resource management, benefit sharing and liaises with Afghan authorities on behalf of their constituent communities. BACC played had major input into the development of the management plan for Band-e-Amir National Park and has implemented a number of livelihoods projects on behalf of its constituent communities.
The Wakhan Pamir Association (WPA):
In 2009, WCS assisted the 56 Wakhi and Kyrgyz communities in Wakhan National Park in the creation of an overarching, democratically-elected institution, the Wakhan Pamir Association (WPA). The WPA focuses on conservation activities and encouraging eco-tourism, natural resource management, benefit sharing, and liaising with Afghan authorities on behalf of their constituent communities. WCS has worked with all the representatives to develop and institute natural resource rules and regulations for the area. The WPA has participated in drafting the Wakhan National Park Management Plan together with provincial and central government officials.
By participating in BAPAC and WPA, all of these communities have been empowered to take increasing ownership of the protected area process in their own areas and are now better positioned to make decisions affecting their future. Likewise, government agencies have been able to coordinate with the rural communities living in and around Band-e-Amir and the Wakhan, helping improve connectivity among remote areas and the central government.