Soon Valley, situated in the north-west of Khushab district of Punjab, is renowned locally for its natural beauty. The land abounds with beautiful lakes, waterfalls, jungles, natural pools and ponds. In addition, the valley provides a unique sanctuary to a host of migratory birds in the winter. The area is blessed with ancient civilization, natural resources and fertile farmland, offering visitors an extraordinary landscape and a unique experience. The land itself is environmentally sensitive and is among the ecologically pristine areas of the country that are rapidly shrinking due to human intervention. Unfortunately the nascent ecotourism sector in Pakistan has yet to take adequate steps either to conserve the natural beauty of the area, or to develop tourist infrastructure that would introduce it to the general public.
The Urban Unit in collaboration with the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) is working on a comprehensive and sustainable eco-tourism programme for Soon Valley, which will include the development of facilities at three different sites in the area: Kanhatti Gardens, Khabbeki Lake and Uchali Lake, and will also contribute towards fostering the development of ecotourism activities in other regions of Pakistan.
The project, while still underway, already boasts several achievements. Efforts to mobilise the local communities residing in Soon Valley have yielded interest in participating in various initiatives such as training as tour guides and indicating willingness to sell local goods and food at kiosks and shops at the tourist resort’s sites. In addition, the project has garnered attention that highlights the needs to conserve the ecology of Soon Valley. Information has been disseminated to the public through various brochures, public messaging and advertisements. Work is currently underway to create tourist friendly signage and facilitate public amenities such as park benches and waste litter bins at the location.