The Worldwide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) and the government of Sindh have initiated an ambitious 50-year ambitious programme aimed at containing degradation of forests, empowering women, conserving water, fighting climate change, and saving endangered species.
The programme has been named the Indus Ecoregion Conservation Programme and will be implemented in phases. The first phase of this 50-year project, called Indus for All Programme, began in July 2006 will conclude in June this year.
“Identified as one of the forty most significant eco-regions of the world, the Indus Eco-region, named after the River Indus, falls entirely within the boundaries of Pakistan. This life sustaining river is the primary source of fresh water for the country but the volume and quality of its waters has been diminishing,” writes Rab Nawaz, Regional Director/Team Leader, Indus for All Programme, WWF-Pakistan, Karachi in the fascinating book “Along the Indus River.”
“This is due to a number of reasons including damming of the river for irrigation and hydropower, extensive deforestation, industrial pollution and climate change,” said Nawaz.
“The river’s decline has been as devastating to those who depend on it for their livelihood as it has been to the flora and fauna that once flourished its banks.”
The programme will take a new approach to conserving biological diversity and the ecological process, and will focus on the conservation of species and habitat and the wpromotion of sustainable natural resources which would contribute to diversification. To do this, the programme will try to create a sense of ownership among the communities inhabiting these areas and spread awareness of the threats that further degradation of this habitat could pose.
“Forests in Pakistan are in urgent need of protection and conservation. A semi-arid country with one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, Pakistan has less than 2.5% of its land covered by forests, as opposed to 33% at the time of Independence,” the book states.
The book’s other chapters, titled “The Blue Gold of Sindh,” “Empowering women improving lives,” “Water for Pai,” Facing up to climate change,” “Integrating sustainable rangeland management practices with ecotourism, “A constructed Wetland in Majeed Keerio,” are equally fascinating and informative.