Aziz Ali Najam, G.Amin Beg, Syed Yahya Shah, Ghulam Tahir, Fazal-u-Rehman Manzoor Ahmed and Khalil Ahmed
by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
Gilgit, May 22: In recognition of the significance of biodiversity, the Programme for Mountain Areas Conservation (PMAC) has organised an event at Karakoram International University to celebrate the Word Biodiversity Day. The main objective of the event was to create awareness among students and other stakeholders regarding issues of biodiversity in Karakoram. Himalaya and Hindukush region. A large number of students from KIU, faculty members and representatives of different government and non-governmental organization were present during the event. The Vice Chancellor KIU, Aziz Ali Najam was the Chief Guest of the day.
Addressing to the participants, Ghulam Amin Beg, Programme Manager Policy Dialogue and Partnership, AKRSP has stressed the need to take larger trans-border initiatives to protect the biodiversity in Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindukush regions. He said that both the Khunjerab National Park and Tashqughan Natural Reserve projects are working to protect Marcopolo sheep and other biodiversity in the region, however, there has is no effort to develop coordination between both projects working in same border regions. He said, Marcopolo sheep moves seasonally around the region, and, if there is no coordination and cooperation, then the objective of the conservation may not be achived. He further added that the culture, indigenous knowledge and practices of the communities living around the border areas also need to be protected. He gave the example of the border region of Baltistan with India, Ishkomin and Afghanistan, Khunjerab and Tashqughun, where the same communities are living both side of the border. He also shared some trans-border initiatives in the region. This includes world life Conservation initiatives of the Governments of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan to protect Marcopolo sheep and declare the whole Pamir region as conservancy. The second initiative is implemented by UNDP, WWF and Government of Pakistan and China to protect the practices of local community. The German Government has also initiated a capacity building programme for the young professionals of Karakoram, Hindukush, Himalaya and Pamir regions. The Government of China is also engaged separately with different neighbouring region to develop coordination between conservation projects.
Fazal-u-Rehman, Director Agriculture Project NAs has made a detailed presentation on Agro biodiversity. He said that more than 90% of the crop varieties have disappeared from the farmer’s field due to many reasons including globalisation of food system and marketing. He stressed the need to preserve the indigenous crop varieties of Northern Areas.
Ghulam Tahir, Forest Conservator has said that there is a great need to use the natural resources of the region very wisely. He said that the Forest Department NAs has declared about 21 conservation areas, however, joint efforts are needed to sustain activities.
Syed Yahya Shah from Nagar in his speech proved the importance of biodiversity with the help of verses from Holy Quran. He stressed the need to organise such events in conservancy areas rather in halls of hotels and universities, away from the target community.
The Vice Chancellor KIU in his keynote speech has said that the biodiversity is rendering valuable function for human survival. He quoted different Quranic verses and the poetry of Moulana Roomi to prove the biodiversity as the blessing of Allah. He said that human being should not be selfish to protect the biodiversity just only for his own benefits but should take it as a moral responsibility and obligation.
(PMAC is a five year project of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) of Government of Pakistan implemented and executed by Ministry of Environment through a National Directorate at Islamabad and three Regional Directorates in NAs. AJK and NWFP. The Key objective of the project is to conserve biological diversity and ecological importance of landscape through active participation of mountain communities and other stakeholders.)