The Neelum Valley with its exceptional landscapes provides a unique opportunity for integrated management of natural resources and economic development to enhance the livelihoods and improve the basic living conditions of the people. The range of policies and practices in place, however, severely limited the capacity of the government and the people to realize this opportunity. Furthermore, the resource base on which the people depend had become highly vulnerable over a period of time due to non-sustainable exploitation practices. With the support from the UNDP GEF SGP, UNDP-EU PTF, and PPAF among others, the Himalayan Wildlife Foundation has been engaged in the Neelum Valley in assisting the local communities and the AJK Wildlife and Fisheries Department (AJKWFD) in the management of biodiversity, development of community infrastructure, and enhancement of livelihoods through tourism development. The Himalayan Wildlife Foundation has supported the AJKWFD in setting up a base for participatory management of biodiversity and natural resources in the project area.
The Himalayan Wildlife Foundation was also instrumental in having the remote north east area of the Neelum Valley in AJK notified as the Musk Deer National Park in 2007. In order to support the communities living in and round Musk Deer National Park, HWF implemented projects with funding from PPAF for development of the Infrastructure for the communities that included villages in 3 union councils and a population of 55,000.
Noticing the considerable potential for development of tourism in the scenic Neelum Valley, which presents an alternative destination to the Swat and Kaghan valleys frequented by visitors in the summer season, the HWF replicated the tourism development model successfully demonstrated at Fairy Meadows in District Diamer in Gilgit Baltistan in the Neelum Valley. Under this model, small facilities owned and operated by low income families were developed to provide economic options to visitors and to increase the household incomes. Technical support and training was, and is still being, provided to the owners to maintain standards in both facilities and services with funding from various organizations, as well as partnerships.
For more information visit the neelum valley project website.