WCS is the leading conservation organization working in Bamyan province, saving the area’s wildlife and habitat through science, conservation action, and education. From conducting comprehensive baseline studies to improving ecotourism facilities to building park co-management capacity, WCS, and partners have achieved the following results:
- First National Park: WCS led the process – involving community consultations, baseline ecological and social surveys, provisional planning, and local and national government mobilization – which resulted in the establishment of Band-e-Amir as Afghanistan’s first national park in 2009.
- Many of the First Surveys in 30 years: Conducted the first wildlife and rangeland surveys in Bamyan province in over 30 years. Surveys showed low populations of both Siberian ibex and urial and anecdotal sightings of wolves. However, WCS found evidence of diverse bird life and confirmed the presence of the Afghan snowfinch, a species only found in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Camera trap surveys north of Band-e-Amir National Park confirmed presence of Persian leopard (thought to be locally extinct), Himalayan lynx and Pallas’ cat. WCS also conducted the first basic necessities survey in Band-e-Amir in 2015, establishing a baseline measurement of the well-being of the park’s inhabitants.
- First Female Rangers: CS recruited, trained, equipped, and deployed 40 government and community rangers – including Afghanistan’s first female rangers – to protect and monitor wildlife and other natural resources across the Bamyan landscape.
- Ecotourism Development: In 2017, a tourism survey revealed that over 189,000 people now visit the park, more than 99% of whom are Afghan citizens. WCS and partners have ensured that local communities benefit from this influx of tourism by implementing a tourism facility development plan, building a tourism information center, new park entrance facility, new ranger complex, a waste disposal site, improved campsites and picnic areas with garbage bins, trails and latrines.
- Reduced fuelwood use: WCS distributed more than 500 fuel-efficient stoves to households in Band-e-Amir, provided 365 solar cookers to families in 2016 and built attached solar greenhouses in 100 households in 2017. Some families reported that the use of fuel-efficient stoves had decreased their wood shrub consumption substantially.
- Education and Training: Conducted conservation awareness outreach throughout Band-e-Amir National Park, to include the establishment of Environmental Education Programs in six schools and environmental committees focused on collecting environmental data and conducting clean-up activities in their communities. Also, developed a hygiene and sanitation training program that was delivered to 3,743 Afghan (1,978 male and 1,765 female) in the communities surrounding Band-e-Amir National Park.