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KARACHI: Speakers on Thursday said that around 14,000 hacter of mangroves have been conserved and co-managed in the Indus delta in joint efforts by the Sindh Forest Department, WWF-Pakistan and other local organizations and communities to reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

A workshop for the first phase of WWF-Pakistan’s project titled “Sustainable Management of the Mangrove Ecosystem and Enhance Resilience of Communities in the Indus Delta” concluded.

This project is supported by Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and WWF-Germany.

The project aimed to protect mangrove forests which were declining due to their extensive and unsustainable use as fuel wood, timber and fodder for the livestock.

Speakers said the efforts will help protect the mangroves cover and increase marine population, besides promote fishermen living.

The locals of delta region are provided with alternative options to help reduce their dependency on mangroves for fuel and fodder, they added.

Dr Tahir Rasheed, Regional Head Sindh and Balochistan WWF-Pakistan said that the coastal communities in Pakistan are faced with multiple challenges including scarcity of freshwater due to construction of dams and other diversions on Indus River. The other problems, he said, are a decline in fish stocks resulting from over fishing; industrial pollution, seawater intrusion, coastal flooding, uneven rainfall patterns and food insecurity. These issues have a negative impact on livelihoods, health and income of the coastal fishers and farmers, he said.

Despite these challenges, he said, the coastal communities in the Indus delta are making efforts for their survival and showing resilience to the grave challenges of climatic change.

The locals are not only adapting themselves to climate change impacts but have also developed innovative solutions, which are good for the communities as well as the coastal ecosystem.

He termed the project a “great” step towards the protection of mangroves and the improvement of the coastal ecosystem and local livelihoods.

Arif Ali Khokar, Conservator Sindh Forest Department, government of Sindh said, “In the 1980s, mangrove cover was reduced to around 80,000 hacter due to multiple threats.”

After integrated and well-coordinated afforestation activities of the Sindh Forest Department and organizations such as WWF-Pakistan, IUCN and local communities, he said that the mangrove cover has grown to 200,000 hacter. He dubbed it a “great” achievement towards restoration of the mangroves ecosystem in Pakistan. He said that Pakistan is the only country in the world, which has reported an increase in the mangrove forests cover, making it an exceptional success story.

He also said that the Sindh government is in contact with international organizations for selling carbon credits, which are an important resource in the international market.

“Funds generated from these carbon credits will be spent on the well-being of coastal communities and the restoration of mangroves in the Indus delta,” he said

Irfan Nizamani, Assistant Commissioner Thatta appreciated efforts for the rehabilitation and protection of mangroves in the Indus delta.

“Protecting Indus delta is our collective responsibility and we need to take joint actions to plant mangroves because they have major role in food security and mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change,” he said.

Ghani Katiyar, local activist and the president of Mehran Welfare Association, a Community-Based Organization (CBO) in Kharo Chan, Thatta said that mangrove plantation in the Indus delta will help improve fish stocks and will protect the communities from disasters.

He appreciated the efforts of WWF-Pakistan for establishing freshwater storage ponds, which can be used for four to six months.

The project has enabled a total of six CBOs, which have been actively participating in project related activities and promoting sustainability of coastal resources, including mangroves, with other communities. The second phase of the project has been initiated with an aim to improve the mangrove cover and enhance community development.

Holger Ziegeler, Consul General, German Consulate; Badar Jamil Mandero, Secretary, Forest and Wildlife; Tameezuddin, Secretary, Livestock and Fisheries department; Faisal Ahmed Uqaili, Secretary Planning and Development; Shireen Narejo, Advisor SARSO; Abdul Rahim Soomro, Secretary Culture and Tourism; Uwe Johannsen from WWF-Germany; Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Conservation Biodiversity; and Ghazi Salahuddin, Manager Marine WWF-Pakistan also spoke on the occasion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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