ISLAMABAD: A week-long Pakistan Mountain Festival started here with a hike and cleaning up of Margalla Hills Trail-3 on Sunday.
The festival is being organised in connection with the International Mountain Day which is celebrated on December 11 every year.
The festival is being organised by Development Communications (Devcom) in collaboration with Climate Change Division of Pakistan, Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods (GLOF) project, United Nations Development Programme, Adaptation Fund, Agha Khan Rural Support Programme, Rupani Foundation, Ev-K2-CNR, a non-profit focusing on scientific and technological research in the mountain areas, the Capital Development Authority, Lok Virsa and The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.
Boy scouts, girl guides, students from various universities, ex-servicemen and other members of the public participated in the hike and clean up of the trail. Some foreign nationals also took part in the event.
The organisers said the festival was aimed at creating awareness regarding climate change, global warming and manmade interventions in the mountain ecosystems.
A photographic exhibition titled “K2-60 Years Later” as well as rock-climbing competitions will be held as part of the festival as well. A seminar regarding challenges confronting mountains and its people will also be held at Lok Virsa.
GLOF National Project Manager Khalil Ahmed told The Express Tribune that due to deforestation, biodiversity extinction, global warming and human intervention, glaciers were melting rapidly and glacial lakes were forming.
Ahmed also mentioned that the organisation had also been working to help reduce risks and vulnerabilities from glacial lakes like flood outbursts.
He said the Hindu Kush-Himalaya region had 15,000 glaciers, and was cradle to nine major river systems and home to 1.3 billion people, adding further that the Northern Areas of Pakistan were home to 5,218 glaciers and 2,420 glacial lakes.
He said that the glaciers in the country were receding at a rate of almost 40-60 metres every 10 years. Ahmed said that now was the time when everyone should come forward to save glaciers and mountains by focusing on issues such as climate change and global warming.
The International Mountain Day is being celebrated to identify new and sustainable opportunities that can benefit communities and help eradicate poverty without degrading mountain ecosytems.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2014.