Prioritising wetlands: ‘Study China model to manage floods better’

Ramsar Mission gives six recommendations for 10-year flood control strategy.

Our Correspondent November 08, 2012


The stakeholders should study flood management along the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers in China, the Ramsar Mission suggested on Tuesday.

A four-member delegation of the Ramsar Mission was presenting its recommendations for a 10-year flood control plan being prepared by the Federal Flood Commission and the irrigation departments.

The Ramsar Convention signed in 1971, is an inter-governmental treaty to maintain wetland ecology in member countries.

The Ramsar Mission has made six recommendations and suggested four changes to the flood control strategy. The recommendations aim at devising an effective flood management plan in lieu of the changing weather pattern and flood frequency in the country.

The mission suggested that WAPDA, the Irrigation and Fisheries departments and the Ministry of Climate Change together draft the flood control plan.

WWF-Pakistan Disaster Response Specialist Rizwan Mahmood said the first draft of its recommendations for the flood control strategy shall be ready by December. “We hope that these will be adopted by early 2013 after local communities and relevant departments approve them,” he said.

The recommendations aim at giving the [flood management] plan an “integrated approach,” he said.

The mission has suggested that environmental flows the quality and quantity of water required to maintain river ecologies should be prioritised in the new water management policy.

It has agreed to hold regular meetings to minimise damage to the ecosystems in the Indus River Basin. It said a pilot project will be started to monitor the benefits of flood control for the livelihood of riverine communities and the conservation of local species. This would likely be on a wetland identified by the mission.

It has also proposed that mission members and key stakeholders be taken to study flood management sites along the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers in China.

“Seeing is believing,” Mahmood said, adding that the model could be replicated in Pakistan with some modifications. WWF-China members, who are part of the Ramsar Mission, believe there is potential to learn from their experience,” he said.

The Ramsar Mission has also suggested

that existing dykes, constrictions and water channels be re-modelled to divert water flow into drier areas. It has suggested that all private dykes be removed. It has also suggested that silt removal and branching water channels, ponds and lakes to increase their capacity.

It has suggested that opportunities be explored to develop public private partnership to manage wetlands.

The Ramsar Mission has visited areas affected by the floods in Lal Sohanra National Park in the Punjab and around Guddu Barrage, Tori Bund at Kandhkot and Sukkur Barrage in Sindh. The mission has also visited the Patisar Lake which has dried due to the lack of water to recharge it.

The mission also visited the offices of Federal Flood Commission, National Disaster Management Authority, Pakistan Meteorological Department, Ministry of Climate Change, WAPDA, Forests, Wildlife, Irrigation Departments, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

The presentations in Lahore were attended by Ramsar Secretariat member Dr Lew Young, Dr Zhang Chen and Dr Xinqiao Zhang of WWF China and Inamullah Khan of IUCN-Pakistan among others.

Alamgir Khan of the Federal Flood Commission and Rizwan Mahmood and Dr Masood Arshad of WWF-Pakistan also participated in the field visits.

The Ramsar Mission is not affiliated with the United Nations system of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA), but works closely with the MEA and member countries for the restoration of wetlands.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2012.

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