Falling forest cover along sea major threat to Sindh coastal areas: IUCN

KARACHI: District Thatta in Sindh below sea level is under direct threat of seawater intrusion and there is immediate need to take biological measures in order to safe life and property of the area.Country representative of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Mahmood Akhtar Cheema Thatta said IUCN was helping in plantation of mangroves in the coastal line of Pakistan besides near Thatta as it was the last town on River Indus. With the increase of migration towards urban areas, the challenges to environment are also increasing. With the rise of population in coastal areas, challenges to climate are also increasing. Trees are being cut down. ICUN is striving hard to promote this concept working with the government apparatus, said Cheema.Founded in 1948, the IUCN has now more than 1,200 members and IUCN Pakistan was founded in 1985 and was helping in formulating Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997.With the Tsunami hitting six countries, realisation came in these countries regarding mangroves. Mangroves act as defending wall against the tsunamis, he said.There is a need to study and assess sea intrusion at national level. Along with greener areas, awareness needs to be raised in brown areas also. He said IUCN was working on substantial forest management and also worked involving legislators and decision makers working more effectively for the environment.Before general elections in Pakistan that took place in 2013, IUCN engaged with the political parties regarding environment. Ten months later we did dialogue again. We were quite successful in approaching this kind of strategy, he said. Talking about the possible impact of climate change he said, “Environment does not have borders, so does the climate change”. There is dire need for countries to work together for the environment as well as the climate change. It is our collective duty to leave the eco system in a state where future generation could sustain it.Simplicity could play vital role in helping the environment. Through simple life style we could help a lot for the cause. For example our forefathers use to use cloth-bag while going for grocery shopping. Today there are over ten million plastic bags in customers use. These bags are big threat to the environment.There is also need to effective and vibrant media for the protection of environment. At the moment there are more than one hundred TV channels, which are on-air. Expansion of environment related content could help the cause.Talking about different initiatives, he said the sea intrusion projects are underway in Pakistan over Rs 600 million under which over 50,000 hectares of mangroves were planted in last five years and several research-based programmes were going on in coastal areas of Sindh including Keti Bandar and Kharo Chan areas in Thatta district.In 2013 Pakistan broke the world record of India according to Guinness World Record by planting 0.75 million mangroves plants in a single day. IUCN was major partner in the move that took place in coastal line in Sindh.In 2014, we started for a project for turtle conservation so there could be proper protection of sea turtles in Pakistan. There is a need to involve more and more fishing communities in projects, he said. He said that fresh water flow was necessary for Kotri down stream as we were facing issue of survival. Such threats should be addressed. There is need of advocacy in respect of Kotri besides substantial water management is also required.

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