Advertisement

From Buffer Zone to National Park: Afghanistan’s Wakhan National Park

  • Peter D. SmallwoodEmail author
  • Chris C. Shank
Chapter
Part of the Landscape Series book series (LAEC, volume 25)

Abstract

On March 30th, 2014, Afghanistan declared the Wakhan Corridor as its second national park. At over 10,000 km2, the park is larger than Yellowstone National Park in the USA. It is high country, ranging from 2500 meters at its west end, to a mountain pass to China at 5000 meters in the east, and peaks of 7000 meters along its southern border. Despite its elevation, the Wakhan National Park is home to iconic wildlife species such as Marco Polo sheep and the snow leopards. It is also home to some 17,000 people. The Wakhan has had a long journey from geopolitical buffer zone to national park, a journey that is not yet complete. It became defined as a specific region during The Great Game of the nineteenth century between the two great empires of the age: Tsarist Russia, and the British Raj in India. The great powers wanted a buffer zone between them, an effort to keep their competition from accidentally spilling over into war. Neither the British, the Russians, nor the Afghan Emir could have known that in the twenty-first century, this buffer zone would come to be valued for its natural capital. While there were ceremonies to declare the park in 2014, it is not yet clear how the park will be managed. The park faces many challenges, but has great potential to preserve rare mountain habitats for the people who live there, and the world beyond its borders.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Wildlife Conservation Society for providing us with opportunities to work for conservation in Afghanistan, and the entire WCS Afghan Team for their dedication to protecting the Afghan environment. We would especially like to thank Stephane Ostrowski for his comments on an earlier draft and Qais Sahar for assistance in locating suitable photos. Finally, we thank Holden Taylor and Amanda Waggoner of the University of Richmond’s Spatial Analysis Lab for assistance in preparing the maps in this chapter, and Samantha Guss, University of Richmond Librarian for finding the political cartoon in Fig. 10.2.

References

  1. Barfield, T. (2010). Afghanistan. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bedunah, D. (2008). Rangeland assessment of the Wakhan Corridor study areas. Unpubl Rpt, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY, Kabul, Afghanistan. https://afghanistan.wcs.org/Publications.aspx Accessed 19 July 2018.
  3. Bedunah, D. (2009). Description of Wakhan Corridor vegetation land classes delineated in the supervised land classification. Unpubl Rpt, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY, Kabul, Afghanistan. https://afghanistan.wcs.org/Publications.aspx. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  4. BirdLife International. (2018). http://www.keybiodiversityareas.org/site/factsheet/46714. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  5. Callahan, E. M. (2013). To the roof of the world: Power and patronage in Afghan Kyrgyz society. PhD dissertation, Boston University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.Google Scholar
  6. Callahan, T. (2016). Khans, kings, communists, warlords and presidents: Afghan Kirghiz socioeconomic strategies for extorting and extracting from the state. In H. Kreutzmann & W. Teiji (Eds.), Mapping transition in the Pamirs (pp. 79–93). Springer International.Google Scholar
  7. Castelló, J. R. (2016). Bovids of the world: Antelopes, gazelles, cattle, goats, sheep and relatives. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Central Statistics Organization of Afghanistan. (n.d.). Settled population of Badakshan Province… 2012–13. http://www.cso.gov.af/Content/files/Badakhshan(1).pdf. Accessed 18 July 2018.
  9. Cooper, H. (2018, March 8). U.S. braces for return of terrorist safe havens to Afghanistan. New York Times, p. A8. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/world/middleeast/military-safe-havens-afghanistan.html. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  10. Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund. (2017). https://www.cepf.net/sites/default/files/mountains-central-asia-ecosystem-profile-eng.pdf. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  11. Curzon, G. N. (1896). The Pamirs and the source of the Oxus. London: The Royal Geographical Society.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. D’Souza, S. M. (2018). Afghanistan: Battle of narratives, power contestations & cycles of violence (ISPSW strategy series: Focus on defense and international security, issue no. 540). http://www.ispsw.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/540_DSouza.pdf. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  13. Dalrymple, W. (2013). Return of a king: The battle for Afghanistan (pp. 1939–1942). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  14. DesMarais, S., & Forrest, C. (2018, February 3). Afghanistan political showdown between Ashraf Ghani and Mohammad Atta Noor. Institute for the Study of War, Report. http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/afghanistan-political-showdown-between-ashraf-ghani-and-mohammad-atta-noor. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  15. Dudley, N. (Ed.). (2008). Guidelines for applying protected area management categories. Gland: IUCN. x + 86pp.Google Scholar
  16. Duncan, A., & Duncan, E, (2006). Report of survey of the Kirghiz community in the Great Pamir, Wakhan District, Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan. Report prepared for Orphans, Refugees and Aid International (Afghanistan).Google Scholar
  17. Economist. (2017, Januray 7). Why states fail and how to rebuild them: Lessons from Afghanistan and South Sudan. https://www.economist.com/international/2017/01/07/why-states-fail-and-how-to-rebuild-them. Accessed July 2018.
  18. Ewans, M. (2002). Afghanistan: A short history of its people and politics. New York: Perennial.Google Scholar
  19. Fair, C. C. (2018). Afghanistan in 2017: Another year of running in place. Asian Survey, 58(1), 110–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fuller, S. (2007). Linking Afghanistan with its neighbors through peace parks: Challenges and prospects. In S. H. Ali (Ed.), Peace parks: Conservation and conflict resolution (pp. 291–312). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Fund for Peace. (2018). Fragile states index. http://fundforpeace.org/fsi/. Accessed 17 July 2018.
  22. Gemie, S. (2017). Cross-cultural communication and the hippy trail 1957–78. Interventions, 19(5), 666–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gerard, M. G. (1897). Report on the proceedings of the Pamir Boundary Commission. Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing.Google Scholar
  24. Gordon, T. E. (1876). The roof of the world: Being a narrative of a journey over the high plateau of Tibet to the Russian frontier and the Oxus sources on Pamir. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas.Google Scholar
  25. Groves, C., & Grubb, P. (2011). Ungulate taxonomy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Habibi, K., & Petocz, R. (2011). Journeys in the hinterlands of Afghanistan: The Golden years of nature conservation (pp. 1971–1978). Los Gatos: Smashwords, Inc.Google Scholar
  27. Haritashya, U. K., Bishop, M., Shroder, J. F., Bush, A. B. G., & Bulley, H. N. N. (2009). Space-based assessment of glacier fluctuations in the Wakhan Pamir, Afghanistan. Climatic Change, 94, 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harris, R. B., & Reading, R. (2008). Ovis ammon. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008. e.T15733A5074694.  https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T15733A5074694.en. Accessed 17 July 2018.
  29. Hopkirk, P. (1990). The great game: On secret service in high Asia. London: John Murray, Publishers.Google Scholar
  30. ICIMOD. (2015). Karakoram-Pamir-Wakhan landscape conservation and development initiative. http://lib.icimod.org/record/31172/files/KPWL_15.pdf. Accessed 25 July 2018.
  31. Ingersoll, G. (2013, February 8). Afghanistan before the war. Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/astonishing-photos-of-prewar-afghanistan-show-everyday-life-in-peaceful-kabul-2013-2. Accessed 17 July 2018.
  32. Johnson, M. F., Kanderian, N., Shank, C. C., Rahmani, H., Lawson, D., & Smallwood, P. D. (2012). Setting priorities for protected area planning in a conflict zone – Afghanistan’s National Protected Area System Plan. Biological Conservation, 148(1), 146–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kollmann, N. S. (2016). The Russian Empire 1450–1801. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Kreutzmann, H. (2017). Wakhan Quadrangle: Exploration and espionage during and after the Great Game. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lawson, P. (2014). The East India company: A history. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Leake, E., & Haines, D. (2017). Lines of (in)convenience: Sovereignty and border-making in postcolonial South Asia, 1947–1965. The Journal of Asian Studies, 76(4), 963–985.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Luikart, G., Amish, S. J., Beja-Pereira, A., Godinho, R., Allendorf, F. W., & Harris, R. B. (2011). High connectivity among argali sheep from Afghanistan and adjacent countries: Inferences from neutral and candidate gene microsatellites. Conservation Genetics, 12, 921–931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. MacMunn, G. F. (1919). Afghanistan: From Darius to Amanullah. (1977 printing by Gosha-E-Adab, Quetta, Pakistan).Google Scholar
  39. Malik, H. Y. (2014). Geo-political significance of the Wakhan Corridor for China. Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 7, 307–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mashal, M., & Shah, T. (2018, March 13). Taliban briefly take Afghan district as security worsens. New York Times, p. A8. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/world/a/sia/afghanistan-taliban-farah.html. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  41. McCarthy, T., Mallon, D., Sanderson, E. W., Zahler, P., & Fisher, K. (2016). What is a Snow Leopard? Biogeography and status overview. In T. McCarthy & D. Mallon (Eds.), Snow leopards (pp. 23–42). New York: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McFate, J. L., Denaburg, R., & Forrest, C. (2015, December 10). Afghanistan threat assessment: The Taliban and ISIS. Institute for the Study of War. Backgrounder. http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Afghanistan%20Threat%20Assessment_The%20Taliban%20and%20ISIS_3.pdf
  43. McKay, H. (2017, May 11). Afghan soldiers claim small but important victory in Badakhshan. Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/05/11/afghan-soldiers-claim-small-but-important-victory-in-badakhshan.html. Accessed 28 July 2018.
  44. McMahon, A. H. (1909). Letters on the Baluch-afghan boundary commission 1896. Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press.Google Scholar
  45. McSweeney, C., New, M., & Lizcano, G. (2012). UNDP climate change country profiles: Afghanistan. http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/research/climate/projects/undpcp/index.html?country=Afghanistan&d1=Reports. Accessed 20 July 2018.
  46. Meyer, K. E., & Brysac, S. B. (1999). Tournament of shadows. The Great Game and the race for empire in Central Asia. Washington, DC: Counterpoint.Google Scholar
  47. Moheb, Z., & Paley, R. (2016). Snow leopard status and conservation in Afghanistan. In T. McCarthy & D. Mallon (Eds.), Snow leopards (pp. 409–417). New York: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mohibbi, A. A., & Cochard, R. (2014). Residents’ resource uses and nature conservation in Band-e-Amir National Park, Afghanistan. Environmental Development, 11, 141–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. ND-GAIN. (2018). Notre dame global adaptation index, country index. https://gain.nd.edu/our-work/country-index/rankings/. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  50. Office of the Geographer of the U.S. Department of State. (1969, May 1). International Boundary Study: Afghanistan – China boundary. No 89.Google Scholar
  51. Office of the Geographer of the U.S. Department of State. (1983 September 15). International Boundary Study: Afghanistan – USSR. No. 26, REVISED.Google Scholar
  52. Olson, D. M., Dinerstein, E., Wikramanayake, E. D., Burgess, N. D., Powell, G. V. N., Underwood, E. C., D'Amico, J. A., Itoua, I., Strand, H. E., Morrison, J. C., Loucks, C. J., Allnutt, T. F., Ricketts, T. H., Kura, Y., Lamoreux, J. F., Wettengel, W. W., Hedao, P., & Kassem, K. R. (2001). Terrestrial ecoregions of the world: A new map of life on Earth. Bioscience, 51(11), 933–938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Omrani, B. (2009). The Durand Line: History and problems of the Afghan Pakistan border. Asian Affairs, 40(2), 177–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Omrani, B., & Ledwidge, F. (2009). Rethinking the Durand line: The legality of the Afghan-Pakistani frontier. The RUSI Journal, 154(5), 48–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ostrowski, S., & Rajabi, A. M. (2017). One health in Wakhan: a summary of health investigations carried out by WCS in the Wakhan District, Afghanistan (2006–2014). Unpubl Rpt, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY, Kabul, Afghanistan. http://stephane.ostrowski.free.fr/pdf/3-2017-002.pdf. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  56. Petocz, R. G. (1978). Report on the Afghan Pamir, part 3: Management plan for the Big Pamir Wildlife Reserve. FAO, FO:DP/AFG/74/016 Field Document No 7.Google Scholar
  57. Petocz, R. G., Habibi, K., Jamil, A., & Wassey, A. (1978). Report on the Afghan Pamir. Part 2: Biology of Marco Polo argali (Ovis ammon polii). FAO:DP/AFG/74/016 Field Document No 6.Google Scholar
  58. Rosen, T., & Zahler, P. (2016). Transboundary initiatives and snow leopard conservation. In T. McCarthy & D. Mallon (Eds.), Snow leopards (pp. 267–276). New York: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rowe, W. C., Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2010). The Wakhan Corridor: Endgame of the great game. In A. C. Diener & J. Hagen (Eds.), Borderlines and borderlands: Political oddities at the edge of the nation-state (pp. 53–68). New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  60. Sayer, J., & van der Zon, A. F. W. (1981). National parks and wildlife management in Afghanistan: a contribution to conservation strategy. FAO Technical Report. FAO, Rome.Google Scholar
  61. Schaller, G. B. (2007). A proposal for a Pamir international peace park. USDA Forest Service Proceedings RMRS, 49, 227–231.Google Scholar
  62. Schaller, G. B. (2012). Tibet wild: A naturalist’s journeys on the roof of the world. Washington: Island Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schaller, G. B., & Kang, A. (2008). Status of Marco Polo sheep Ovis ammon polii in China and adjacent countries: Conservation of a vulnerable subspecies. Oryx, 42, 100–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schaller, G. B., Hong, L., Hua, L., Junrang, R., Mingjiang, Q., & Haibin, W. (1987). Status of large mammals in the Taxkorgan Reserve, Xinjiang, China. Biological Conservation, 42(1), 53–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sergeev, E. I. (2013). The Great Game, 1856–1907: Russo-British relations in Central and East Asia. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press.Google Scholar
  66. Shahrani, M. N. (2002). The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: Adaptation to closed frontiers and war. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  67. Sharifi, S., & Adamou, L. (2018, Januray 31). Taliban threatens 70% of the country, BBC finds. BBC World Service. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42863116. Accessed 18 July 2018.
  68. Skrine, C. P., & Nightingale, P. (1973). Macartney at Kashgar: New light on British, Chinese and Russian activities in Sinkiang, 1890–1918. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  69. Smallwood, P. D., Shank, C. C., Dehgan, A. O., & Zahler, P. (2011). Wildlife conservation in Afghanistan? Conservation projects multitask in conflict zones, blending development and conservation goals. Bioscience, 61, 506–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Taylor, A. (2013, July 2). Afghanistan in the 1950s and ‘60s. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2013/07/afghanistan-in-the-1950s-and-60s/100544/. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  71. Toktomushev, K. (2018, January, 17). China’s military base in Afghanistan. The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2018/01/chinas-military-base-in-afghanistan/. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  72. UNICEF. (2015). Levels & trends in child mortality; Report 2015. https://data.unicef.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/IGME-report-2015-child-mortality-final_236.pdf. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  73. WCS Afghanistan. (2018). Initiatives https://afghanistan.wcs.org/Initiatives.aspx and Publications. https://afghanistan.wcs.org/Publications.aspx. Accessed 23 July 2018.
  74. Winnie, Jr. J. (2009). Results of the Argali survey in the Big Pamir and Wakhjir Valley by the Marco Polo sheep survey team in 2008 (Unpublished Report). Kabul: WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY. https://afghanistan.wcs.org/Publications.aspx. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  75. Winnie, Jr. J., & Harris, R. (2007). 2007 Marco Polo argali research in the Big Pamir of Afghanistan (Unpublished Report). Kabul: WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY. https://afghanistan.wcs.org/Publications.aspx. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  76. World Bank. (2018). The World Bank in Afghanistan. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/afghanistan/overview. Accessed 19 July 2018.
  77. Xie, Y., Kang, A., Wingard, J., & Zahler, P. (2007). The Pamirs Transboundary Protected Area. WCS Report on the 2006 International Workshop on Wildlife and Habitat Conservation in the Pamirs. Urumqi, China.Google Scholar
  78. Zahler P, Schaller G (2014, February) Saving more than just snow leopards. The New York Times, p. SR4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of RichmondRichmondUSA
  2. 2.CochraneCanada

Personalised recommendations