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ISLAMABAD: In a defining moment for Tharparker's biodiversity, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) have collaborated to launch a detailed flora and fauna study that showcases the regions ecological treasures and highlights efforts for its conservation.

As part of various mitigation and conservation strategies, the study proposes a series of sustainable actions that will enhance co-existence between Thar biodiversity and its communities. These efforts include measures such as development of seed banks for various floral habitats, as well as, community-based sustainable practices to create a balance between ecology and communities.

The launch of the study held under the theme of Partnership for Biodiversity Conservation in Thar witnessed the launch of the report, as well as, the documentary led by experts from IUCN, SECMC, Sindh Wildlife Department, Zoological Society of Pakistan, and NGO Baanh Beli amongst others.

Addressing the gathering, Amir Iqbal, CEO Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) and Thar Foundation (TF), said, As a future-forward energy company committed to securing the country's energy needs through indigenous resources, we acknowledge our responsible duty to contribute to the preservation of Thar's unique ecosystems and enhancement of the community.

He continued, While advancing our mission to provide affordable electricity, we remain steadfast in uplifting the socio-economic region of Thar, and to this effect we have instituted a number of initiatives such as the Thar Million Trees program, bio-saline agriculture & aquaculture in the region for successfully growing apple berry, livestock fodder, and Aloe Vera while aiming to protect our vulture conservation program with IUCN, whereby over 180 active nests are being conserved for different species of endangered vultures.

Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan mentioned, This intensive study has been done in the district Tharparker region to document the existing flora and fauna in the region, to analyse their distribution patterns, evaluate their susceptibility, and identify potential threats to these invaluable natural assets.

Cheema added that the survey discovered 149 plant species in the area, including some previously unknown to the region while the survey documented a total 205 bird species, 41 mammal species, 31 reptile and amphibian species, and 1065 invertebrate species in the region.

Baanhn Belis Javed Jabbar, in his remarks, emphasised the importance of the study findings, paving the way for the detailed presentation by Prof Z B Mirza, Conservationist, and lead author of the report, along with contributions from botanical expert Dr Muzafar Hussain Sirohi and Naveed Ali Soomro, Manager Sindh Programme IUCN Pakistan. The panel discussion on the Diversity of Thar, followed by the screening of the documentary "Ecological Treasures of Thar," captivated the audience, offering a visual journey into the heart of Tharparker's natural wonders.

Moreover, the documented species were also assessed against the IUCN Red List of threatened flora and fauna and found 3 birds and 1 plant species to be critically endangered, 2 birds and 1 plant species to be endangered, 6 birds vulnerable, 10 birds, and 1 mammal and 1 reptile to be near threatened.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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