National Conference on Mangroves Ecosystem in Pakistan: Sharing of Experience with Policy Makers

A national conference titled: National Conference on Mangroves Ecosystem in Pakistan: Sharing of Experience with Policy Makers was organised by the Human Resource Development Network (HRDN) from March 8-9, 2012 at Hotel Pearl Continental at Karachi. This conference was first of its kind in Pakistan which specifically focused on the mangroves ecosystem of Pakistan.

pk_mff_ncmep_1.jpg Photo: © Cactus Digital for MFF- Pakistan

In the welcome address Mr. Roomi Saeed Hayat, Chairperson, HRDN lauded the role of mangrove forest as a barrier against sea intrusion and sea erosion. He also enumerated the threats being faced by the mangrove forest such as cutting, camel grazing, industrial and municipal pollution, oil spillage, and land reclamation. He stressed on the need for awareness raising amongst masses for its protection.

While outlining the objectives of the Mangroves for the Future Programme Dr. Steen Christensen, Regional Coordinator of MFF mentioned that the main objectives of the MFF are: improving and sharing applying the knowledge, strengthening the ICM institutions and empowering the civil society and enhancing the coastal governance at all levels. He said that Pakistan is a disaster prone country therefore MFF’s has to play an important role.

Mr. Javed Jabbar, IUCN global Vice President and Regional Councilor, West Asia admired the cooperation and efforts of 14 different organisation in bringing together all the people on one platform to highlight the significance of mangrove ecosystem. He also praised the sacrifices of Mr. Abdul Ghani and Haji Abu Bakar of Kaka Pir village who laid their lives for protecting the mangrove forest. These brave men stood against the land mafia who wanted to cut down the mangroves and clear the land for their vested interests. He lamented that the culprits are still roaming freely. He stressed on the need for more awareness in the masses on the importance of mangroves as our natural capital. He said that every individual can contribute something for the environment. While appreciating the efforts of media already made towards conservation, he said that there is still a lot of scope for awareness.

In his remarks, Mr. Zafar Iqbal Qadir, Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority said that mangroves play the most valuable role in reducing the impact of tsunamis and the cyclones, thus it is the only factor that can save us from them. Mangroves are also an essential source of livelihood. He was concerned about lack of authentic data on ecosystems and requested IUCN for conducting such studies to ascertain the state of the environment of all the ecological systems so that future planning can be based on those facts and figures. He assured DMA’s full support in this regard.

Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, IUCN Asia Regional Director mentioned that gender is also a significant aspect in the MFF and women are part of all the future programmes. She said that “MFF is a transboundary initiative which is a partnership amongst governments, private sector and civil societies and it’s about coasts, oceans, ecosystems, livelihoods and our life”. It is a source of development of livelihoods based on natural resource management. She talked of the role of MFF as a mediatory that takes money from the donor and provides it to the NGOs that actually work in the fields. She said that frequency of natural disasters is increasing and is attributed to climate change. Besides, the pattern of natural disasters has become unpredictable therefore, MFF has an important role to play in the future. 

Mr. Riaz Ahmed Ahmed Wagan, Conservator Forest (Coastal), Mr. Umair Shahid of WWF-Pakistan and Mr. Tahir Jawaid of Engro Foundation and Syed Ghulam Qadir Shah, NRM Coordinator, IUCN made presentation on the significance, role and conservation of mangroves ecosystem.

In the concluding remarks, Mr. Syed Mahmood Nasir thanked all the participants and appreciated all the member organisations for brining together all the stakeholders.

The following day was marked with the participation of over 100 members of the Human Resources Development Network, along with the officials of Sindh Forest Department planted 300 mangrove saplings on a mud flat in Jhari creek about 1.5 nautical miles from the Korangi Fish Harbour.

This activity was part of the awareness raising campaign undertaken by HRDN with the support of MFF, Mangroves for the Future, a regional initiative for the conservation and rehabilitation of the coastal ecosystems.

The enthusiastic members of HRDN, who had especially come from different parts of the country to acquaint themselves with the coastal ecosystem, and had listened to experts during the one-day seminar were briefed about the importance of the mangroves by the Inspector General of Forests, Syed Mahmood Nasir, and Conservator Sindh, Mr. Riaz Ahmed Wagan and Mr. Agha Tahir Durrani.

While leading the plantation drive Mr. Rafiul Haq, National Coordinator, MFF-Pakistan explained to the participants about the artificial plantation process work and how it increases the covered area of the mangroves to increase the bio-shield against natural disasters.

He especially appreciated the contribution of Pakistan Navy, the only Armed Force in the entire MFF region that is a member of the National Coordinating Body. Capt. Fayyaz Malik and the Navy personnel were also present on the occasion with their hovercrafts to facilitate the plantation activity.

Ms. Fauzia Malik, Executive Director of HRDN thanked MFF, Pakistan Navy, Korangi Fish Harbour Authority and the Sindh Forest Department for assisting HRDN in providing awareness about the mangroves to its HRDM members, and proposed that this plantation be made an annual activity. This would be supplemented by the earlier announced declaration of extending the awareness to one million people within a year.

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