Allah has gifted Pakistan with vast species of biodiversity conservation with flora and Fiona Indus dolphin, Marco polo sheep, snow leopard, mangroves, etc. Pakistan has 26 National Parks, 72 Wildlife sanctuaries, 66 game reserves, and 19 wetlands for biodiversity. But due to no proper check, biodiversity is on the decline side. This article will give information about the importance of biodiversity, biodiversity Heroes of Pakistan, and success stories of Pakistan on biodiversity conservation.
The Importance of Biodiversity Conservation
Before going in-depth about the importance of biodiversity and its benefits to humans, we will first understand what is biodiversity. The term biodiversity is a combination of two words i.e. “biological” and “diversity”. It means all species and varieties of life that are present on Earth. It includes humans, animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms like bacteria, etc, hence every living thing that exists on the earth
Why Biodiversity Matters
Different species of biodiversity are linked with each other. Extinction of one species may cause endangerment to other species. Human survival depends upon biodiversity. It provides food, shelter, cures for many diseases, and raw materials for business to humans, other animals, and marine species. It also provides us with beautiful scenery and nature. It’s the right of future generations that they will also enjoy these luxuries of biodiversity. We call this thinking Sustainability.
Ecosystem Services and Human Well-being
It is the right of every species to live in the ecosystem whether it gives benefits to humans or not. Biodiversity offers services like regulating climate, crop production, plant pollination, and pest control to maintain the ecosystem of this earth. The majority of medicines are extracted from biodiversity mainly from plants. It not only helps humans but animals also in recovering from diseases. It helps regulate climate e.g. mangroves can store more carbon than other plants and trees.
Tireless Defender of Wildlife:
- Aban Marker Kabraji:She was awarded Tamga e Imtiaz, a civil service award by the president of Pakistan in 2018 for her contribution to the conservation of marine sea turtles. She also served as Asia regional director at IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
- Nazim Jokhio:He is a brave citizen of Pakistan who tried to stop the illegal hunting of the endangered houbara bustard bird. A local political influential party brutally murdered him. Because he was filming the video of foreigners doing hunting. Today still justice was not given to the deceased.
- Tahir Qureshi: He is the hero of mangroves because of his dedication to conservation and restoration at the Indus River on the coastline of the Arabian Sea. Mangroves store 3 to 5 times more carbon in them than any other tree and plant and also prevent flood in the region.
- Nazir Mirani:He is the true friend of the Indus River Dolphin. These dolphins are rare and the second most endangered species of freshwater. But Nazir Mirani worked with the Sindh Wildlife Department to save these beautiful creatures despite being bitten by dolphins many times.
Conservation Success Stories of Pakistan
Restoring Endangered Habitats:
⦁ Mangrove Restoration in the Indus Delta
In 2015, the Delta Blue Carbon Project was launched by both Indus Delta Capital Private Limited and the Forest and Wildlife Department of the Government of Sindh to protect and reforestation of mangroves in the Indus coastline.
⦁ The Restoration Initiative
This project is aimed at conserving and restoring threatened Chilgoza pine forest. With the help of local communities, illegal wood cutting and overgrazing are minimized to protect this forest from further deforestation.
⦁ Wildlife sanctuaries of Pakistan
Wildlife sanctuary is an undisturbed area reserved for biodiversity. Different species live there and there is no human danger. In Pakistan, there are 99 Wildlife Sanctuaries, out of which 66 are up to standard and recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Astore/Baltistan Wildlife Sanctuary and Cholistan Wildlife Sanctuary are the most famous in Pakistan.
⦁ Pakistan Wetlands Project
This project was launched in 2005 by the coordination of WWF-Pakistan and UNDP. Its purpose is to preserve and restore freshwater and marine areas of Pakistan to protect biodiversity.
Protecting Rare and Threatened Species:
- Trophy Hunting Policy in Pakistan helps to protect Markhor from extinction. Hunters have to pay hefty sums of money to kill Markhor.
- Dhodial Pheasantry and Wildlife Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa increases the population of Cheer Pheasant by hatching their eggs and restricting individuals from approaching them.
- With the cooperation of the Pakistan army, Punjab wildlife has revived Black Deer in the wild nature after 53 years. Black deer are bred in artificial environments after that they are trained to live in a natural environment before their release in the wild.
Community-Based Conservation Initiatives
- Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan (SLF): This foundation is a non-profit, registered organization. It worked with government agencies to protect endangered snow leopards under the Pakistan Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program (PSLEP).
- Torghar Conservation Project: TCP is initiated by local tribal leaders to protect Suleiman Markhor and Afghan urial in the Torghar region. Their hunting was banned. TCP is funded by trophy hunting. This increases their population. They hired locals for the guarding of hunting games.
- Khunjerab National Park: Pakistan’s 3rd largest national park is the community-based conservation of Marco Polo sheep and other species present there. It also gives a spot for tourism and benefits the local community economically.
Challenges and Future of Biodiversity Preservation
Current Threats to Biodiversity in Pakistan
Marine and land biodiversity is facing serious threats in Pakistan. Many species like swamp deer, one-horned rhinoceros, lion, and tiger are extinct due to the following reasons:
- Overpopulation, resource depletion, water depletion, and exploitation of forests for housing and wood.
- Over cropping, use of harmful pesticides and fertilizer, pollution of water bodies.
- No check on industrialization activities, carbon percentage increase in air, mangroves number declining.
- Due to dams and barrages, water blockage is the most fatal damage to aquatic diversity.
- Climate change, loss of habitat, and overhunting.
- Increased demand for plant-based medicines
The Role of Policy and Advocacy
In Islam, animals are given the right to live, with no cruelty and love. As a Muslim state, we must follow the instructions given to us. In 1992, the National Conservation Strategy (NCS) was formulated to conserve and better use of natural resources. Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 is made to protect, conserve, and improve the environment.
Hope for a Sustainable Future
Strict actions must be taken against the violation of biodiversity laws. Properly imposing the laws and policies is required. Only if communities cooperate with the Government, then the loss of biodiversity be solved. There must be proper checks and balances on human activities. Then only we can hope for a better future for biodiversity.
Pakistan has national parks, protected areas, and wetlands for biodiversity. Biodiversity is not only important for human survival but it’s their right to live on earth even if they are dangerous. Many heroes of Pakistan protect species of biodiversity. Many species are recovering from threatened situations. There are many threats that biodiversity is facing at this time. We can individually play our role in conservation for a sustainable future.
This article is written by Tehreem Ishfaq who is intern at perspective.pk