An inaugural ceremony of Pakistan Navy Mangroves Plantation Campaign 2017 was organized by the Pakistan Navy in collaboration with IUCN Pakistan’s Mangroves for the Future Programme (MFF), Ministry of Climate Change, and the provincial Forestry departments of Sindh and Balochistan on 14th August 2017 at PNS Himalaya Firing Range, Manora Island in Karachi.
Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah NI(M), Chief of the Naval Staff was the chief guest on the occasion. The event was attended by senior command officials of Pakistan Navy, the Federal Secretary of Ministry of Climate Change, senior officials of the Sindh Forest Department, civil society organisations, the private sector, students and members of local fisher folk community.
In his address Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah pledged to plant a million mangroves saplings in the year 2017 and declared the campaign as the national mangrove planting drive. He said that mangrove conservation was a national cause, which required collaborative efforts by all the relevant stakeholders and assured Pakistan Navy’s full commitment to this national cause. He thanked and congratulated all the partners and Naval Flag Officers for the successful achievement of previous year’s targets. He especially appreciated the support of IUCN, Sindh Forest Department, Balochistan Forest Department and the Ministry of Climate Change in the mangrove plantation drive and protection of the mangroves forests.
Walking down memory lane, the naval chief recounted how he frequently encountered dolphins in the channel of Karachi harbour in the early years of his naval service during the 1970s, as the coastal waters used to be pollution free. He expressed concerns over the rising pollution in the shores of Karachi coast which has now displaced marine life and turned the coastal waters into a cesspool. He mentioned that “with the support of MFF programme of IUCN, Pakistan Navy has taken modest initiatives to create awareness among its ranks and established biological wastewater treatment plant at Manora and the same model has been replicated in 10 other units of Pakistan Navy based on successful results.”
Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change congratulated the Pakistan Navy on successively following mangrove planning initiative since 2016 and assured full cooperation and support of the Ministry of Climate Change in honouring the fresh pledge made by the Naval Chief on the auspicious occasion of the Independence Day of the Country. He informed that the ministry has proposed inclusion of environment category in civil awards so that the efforts of nature conservation stalwarts are appropriately acknowledged. He applauded the leading role of Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, IUCN Regional Director Asia towards the nature conservation not just in Pakistan but also in the Asia region.
In his welcome remarks, the Commander Coast, Rear Admiral Abdul Aleem welcomed the participants of the Inaugural Ceremony of the PN-Mangroves Plantation Campaign 2017. He presented his special thanks to Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah for gracing the occasion as the chief guest, and the importance he attached to valuing ecosystems such as mangroves.
Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, IUCN Pakistan Country Representative, congratulated the Naval Chief over the mangrove plantation initiative and applauded Pakistan Navy’s support in getting Astola island declared as Pakistan’s first ever Marine Protected Area. “This declaration has created a positive image of Pakistan in the world.”He stressed upon the important role of the private sector in mangroves restoration and addressing coastal pollution issues. He appreciated the role and support of the Ministry of Climate Change in addressing the environmental issues in the country.
At the close of the ceremony, the Chief Guest and participants planted mangrove saplings at the Himalaya Firing Range, Manora, to officially launch the mangrove plantation drive.
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