Band-e-Amir was officially declared Afghanistan's first national park in April 2009. USAID is funding the ongoing project to build the park and generate tourism in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Band-e Amir National Park Afghanistan
Band-e Amir National Park (Persian: بند امیر) is Afghanistan's first national park, located in the Bamyan Province. It is a series of six deep blue lakes separated by natural dams made of travertine, a mineral deposit. The lakes are situated in the Hindu Kush mountains of central Afghanistan at approximately 3000 m of elevation, west of the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan.
They were created by the carbon dioxide rich water oozing out of the faults and fractures to deposit calcium carbonate precipitate in the form of travertine walls that today store the water of these lakes. Band-e Amir is one of the few rare natural lakes in the world which are created by travertine systems. The site of Band-e Amir has been described as Afghanistan's Grand Canyon, and draws thousands of tourists a year. The river is part of the system of the Balkh River.
The local people in Band-e-Amir National Park rely heavily on park natural resources for the livelihood. Grazing of livestock, shrubs collection for fuel and winter fodder and rainfed farming is still widely practiced within the park boundary. Although the illegal hunting of birds and a few mammals living in the park is formally prohibited by the park office, there is no up to dated data and information to evaluate the status of wildlife and biodiversity.
After the formal establishment of the park in 2009, a park office with a park warden and a group of rangers was installed to take over management responsibilities including conservation and protection of park natural resources. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is the only NGO has its office within the park and attempts to support park staff and work with local community to enhance awareness and promote conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
Benefit from ecotourism is expected to be an alternative to decrease dependency on park natural resources. Band-e-Amir receive tourism only in summer months when the weather is warm, however it also has a great potential to attract tourism in winter. The problem is that local people remains poor and there is limited courage of outsiders to invest in this growing industry.
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