KARACHI: Environmental experts are worried that a lack of freshwater from Kotri downstream has become a major cause of mangroves deforestation.
“We should not play with nature,” said Habibur Rehman Solangi, the assistant director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s legal department. “Either the flow of fresh water from Kotri downstream should be ensured or we must prepare for greater disasters in the future.”
At a workshop conducted on Thursday by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the experts from the forest department, the provincial agriculture department, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission and local NGOs stressed on creating awareness among the communities.
“Lack of fresh water, camel grazing and sea intrusion are major causes of the deforestation in coastal areas of Sindh,” said divisional forest officer Arif Ali Khokhar. Fuel consumption was one the reasons why people cut mangrove trees, “but that is not as serious of an issue because people do not rely only on mangroves for fuel consumption”.
ICIMOD is planning to introduce the United Nations Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-Redd) Plus project. According to the UN-Redd website, the programme goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Since the concept is relatively new to Pakistan, a series of workshops will be held across 10 districts in the country.
“The local communities understand their issues better and know the best way to tackle them,” said ICIMOD national project manager Muhammad Sohail.
Other participants pointed out that the situation in Karachi was not very positive, with massive contamination in Malir and Lyari rivers.
“The involvement of local communities and existing policies can also make a difference,” suggested WWF’s Muhammad Ibrahim.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2012.
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