World Wetlands day celebrated in Qurumbar Valley

Press Release

Gilgit: Each year the World Wetlands Day (WWD) is celebrated throughout the world to commemorate the signing of the Ramsar convention on Feb 2nd 1971 in the Ramsar city of Iran.

The prime objective behind the celebration of the day is to reach out common masses and enhance their awareness level about the common environmental issues of wetlands and the feasible solutions at local level. For this purpose different awareness raising events are organized through out the world to mark the day and highlight the importance of wetlands in our ecosystem. Each year a special theme is selected with focus on these issues. This year the day was celebrated internationally with the theme; Forests for Water and Wetlands.

Pakistan is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention along with other 156 countries of the world, so far. Keeping this fact in mind the WWF-Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan) under its Pakistan Wetlands Programme and the Saving Wetlands Sky High Project organized a programme at Immit village in Qurumbar valley, district Ghizer. To further mark the day as historical one in the history of Qurumbar valley, the local community based organization named as “Qurumbar Social Welfare, Conservation and Development Organization) also invited the representatives of relevant government and non government organization to give a boost to the process of establishing “Qurumbar National Park”.

In this regard, an awareness raising programme followed by a walk was organized jointly with partners like Forest and Wildlife Department Gilgit-Baltistan and QSWCDO at Immit. Some 500 people, from different walks of life participated in the event.

The Secretary Forest, Wildlife and Environment (Gilgit-Baltistan) Mr. Abdul Hamid was the Chief Guest on the occasion.

After traditional welcome by the Qurumbar valley community, Mr Ghulam Rasool general secretary KSWCDO presented a brief profile of the Qurumbar valley, followed by an explication of the community’s role in conservation of the valley’s unique natural heritage. He highlighted the trophy hunting program’s success and the benefits obtained by community so far. Through a resolution on behalf of the community, Mr. Rasool requested the Chief Guest to declare a part of the valley as “Qurumbar National Park”.

Mr. Babar Khan, Head WWF-Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan) highlighted the socio-ecological significance of a national park, followed by a brief elaboration on the key principles of establishing a national park. Referring to the community’s strong demand for Qurumbar National Park, he informed the community of their anticipated roles and responsibilities in its future management as a national park. He further asserted that proposed National Park would be the first of its kind, mean wetlands based national park. It has also socio-ecological importance which in turn could benefit both the environment and the local community. He expressed his wish for all stakeholders to join their heads and hands to   save the unique biodiversity for social, economic and environmental development of the region.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Alamgir, DFO Ghizer highlighted the role of the forest stand in maintaining the health of the environment; to sustain flow of freshwater and existence of the wetlands. He also supported the resolution of the community for establishment of the proposed Qurumbar National Park.

Addressing the gathering Mr, Ahmad Said, Site Manager briefed the participant about the aim and objectives of celebrating world wetlands day. He highlighted the theme of the day and the role of the community for providing protection to the Forest resources and the connected wetlands ecosystem in the area.  He mentioned that the proposed  Qurumbar National Park will also pave way for the establishment of inter provincial Trans- boundary National Park with adjoining Broghil valley, which already enjoy the same protected status.

Mr. Gulam Muhammad DFO wildlife represented wildlife department. He delivered a speech on wildlife biodiversity and the benefits attached to it in the form of Trophy Hunting program in the valley. He supported the proposal of the community and stressed that due to this enhanced protection in future, the existing community Control Hunting Area could be turned as a safe habitat of Ibex population in the area, which could further increase the hunting quota and associated benefits for the communities.   He also linked the National Park establishment to the socio economic uplift of the area.

While concluding the ceremony, the Chief Guest, Mr. Abdul Hamid, Secretary Forest, Wildlife and Environment (Gilgit-Baltistan) appreciated WWF-Pakistan for its long lasting conservation efforts in the valley since 1993. He also encouraged the community on their proposal to establish the Qurumbar National Park and assured to extend all possible support from him and his department to declare and notification the Qurumbar as National Park, after fulfilling the needful codal formalities. He thanked and appreciated the organizers for their hard work to organize the event.

At the end of the programme an awareness raising walk was held to mark the National Park proposal and to celebrate the World Wetlands Day, 2011. All the participants including local community, representatives of Government departments, NGOs, CBOs, School kids, Press and electronic media participated in the walk. The walk was led by the Chief Guest.

See relevant photographs in the “News in Pics” section.

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