Islamabad, June 04, 2016 (PPI-OT):Environmental degradation, illicit trade and habitat destruction or fragmentation have exacerbated threats to the very existence of wildlife in many countries including Pakistan. However, the wildlife, which is integral part of natural cycle of biological diversity, cannot be saved from being vanishing altogether as long as these issues are not tackled, speakers warned.
Environmentalist and Pakistan Muslim League (N) Senator Ms. Nuzhat Sadiq said, “Habitat destruction, fragmentation, pollution, sedimentation, changes in the quality of water bodies are the dominating problems facing terrestrial wildlife and habitats.”
“Grassland and desert habitats are getting degraded rapidly in the country from certain agricultural uses and urbanization that convert this habitat to other types of habitat, from farms that convert into municipal uses, human settlements, industrial development and certain industrial practices, such as mining,” she elaborated while addressing participants of the World Environment Day 2016 event as keynote speaker.
The event, held here on Saturday, was organized by the Ministry of Climate Change in partnership with the East-West Center Association (Islamabad chapter) and the House of the Light School. It aimed to sensitise politicians, community members, academia, schoolchildren and general public about the escalating risk of environment degradation and its impact on sustainability of the wildlife and their habitat.
The environment day is marked every year on June 5. This year the day is being celebrated under the theme the theme ‘Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife Trade’. The Senator Nuzhat Sadiq emphasized that large-scale efforts to tackle the environmental degradation and counter the illicit wildlife trade must be boosted by stronger policies, awareness campaigns and investments in community conservation and law enforcement.
“While many species remained at risk and it would require unflinching and unwavering efforts by each and every one of us to turn the tide,” she underlined. She also spelled out present governments for conservation and protection of the wildlife and environment.
“Formulation of national forest, wildlife and biodiversity policies in recent months, the Green Pakistan Project for enhancement of the forest cover and its conservation and protection, which provide habitats for the wildlife species, is major indicator of the present government’s seriousness towards conservation of the natural and wildlife resources,” the Senator told.
Secretary Climate Change Ministry, Syed Abu Ahmed Akif, termed wildlife as an important part of the country’s rich ecological, economic, and cultural heritage. “The diverse array of species and habitats are part of the distinct character of the country’s natural resources and the foundation for a strong conservation ethics – one that is inevitable to sustain under continuing challenges posed by increases in population growth and in demands for land, water, and other natural resources, as well as by climate change,” he told participants of the event.
But it was depressing to note that wildlife species were being lost much faster than natural extinction due to, among others, changes in land use, unsustainable use of natural resources, invasive alien species, climate change and pollution, galloping population, reckless urbanization, deforestation, over-exploitation of natural resources, Syed Abu Akif disgruntled during his address.
Pakistan provides habitats for 188 mammal species, of which six are endemic and 20 threatened with extinction. There are 666 bird species, of which 25 are endangered. As many as 174 reptile species are found in the country, 13 of them ranked as endemic species. The reptiles include 14 turtles, one crocodile, 90 lizards and 65 species of snakes.
Besides, there are 22 amphibians, nine of them declared endemic. Total 198 fresh water fish species exist in the country and 29 of them endemics. So far more than 5,000 species of invertebrates have been identified. In addition, there are over 5,700 species of flowering plants, with over 400 species endemic in the country.
The country is also home to 26 national parks, 96 wildlife sanctuaries and 93 game reserve areas. The Secretary, however, emphasised that by discovering how to save nature, any of us could inspire everyone to work with us to protect wildlife in the last wild places on Earth.
The climate change ministry secretary also urged all provincial environment, forest and wildlife departments, other relevant government and non-governmental organisations to join the Ministry’s efforts to fight environmental degradation, illicit wildlife trade and promote sustainable use of natural resources.
He told participants “We must understand that biodiversity of which the wildlife is the integral part and basis for the life and for the essential services provided by ecosystems. Besides, it does underpin peoples’ livelihoods and sustainable development in all realms of socio-economical activity, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, among others.”
Dr. Arjumand Faisal, member of the East-West Center Association, and renowned physician and artist, emphasized role of awareness-raising and advocacy among children and communities in forest areas and those, who depend upon natural resources for their livelihoods.
“Building sense of responsibility and love among masses for the nature, natural resources and the wildlife life it feeds can do wonders and evoke steady response towards efforts of relevant stakeholders including the government agencies to conserve and protect natural resources and the wildlife.
Earlier, Students of the House of the Life School, where the event was held, performed various shows and delivered speeches, as a part of awareness-raising, which highlighted the theme of the World Environment Day of this year.
For more information, contact:
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
E-mail: [email protected]