MFF National Coordinating Body 17th Moot Discusses New Protected Areas after Astola Declaration

The 17th meeting of National Coordinating Body (NCB) of Mangroves for the Future Programme (MFF) Pakistan was organized by IUCN Pakistan on 15th September, 2017 at the HEJ - Institute of Chemistry.  The meeting was chaired by Federal Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, Mr. Abu Ahmed Akif, and attended by relevant government officials, coastal authorities, Pakistan Navy, representatives of the provincial government agencies of Sindh and Balochistan, the private sector, NGOs, academia and research institutions.

MFF National Coordinating Body 17th Moot Discusses New Protected Areas after Astola Declaration

In his opening remarks, Mr. Abu Ahmed Akif, Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, highlighted key successes the Ministry achieved jointly with IUCN and other stakeholders as well as brought focus on numerous coast related issues.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan, resented the background and context that led to the creation of the Mangroves for the Future programme (MFF), and how the National Coordinating Body was ut together and the mandate it served. “NCB is a coordinating body and the only platform that brings together all relevant coastal stakeholders to discuss issues pertaining to coastal sustainability.” He highlighted the declaration of Astola as Pakistan’s first marine protected area, “achieved through the support of the Ministry of Climate Change as well as the provincial government of Balochistan, with technical support provided by IUCN.” He urged climate change and genera sects be brought into consideration for future initiatives pertaining to the coasts. He highlighted the GCF project that IUCN was targeting for another five-year programme along the coasts of Sindh and Balochistan.

NIO, using different maps of Sindh and Balochistan coasts, explained that a survey was in the process of being launched along the coast to obtain further data. The focus, it was noted, was to assess tidal inundation and sediment monitoring to gauge land subsidence. “Research confirms that human interference is sinking deltas four times faster than the rise in sea level,” NIO added.

The representative of the National Institution (NIO) quoting various studies observed that “Most deltas around the world are sinking as they are unable to grow rapidly enough to keep pace with the rising sea level –the Indus Delta faces a similar issue, only coupled with numerous other factors, including human.” The NIO has conceived a project to conduct various scientific studies on the same lines to gather data to ascertain the causes and impacts of the sea intrusion in the coastal areas of Pakistan.

Representatives of the Balochistan Forest Department explained the process that led to the declaration of Astola as an MpA, and said they were in the process of developing a management plan for the island – urging organizations such as IUCN, the Ministry, NIO, to assist. “IUCN is organizing a workshop on Astola management planning and will draw support from its regional and global technical expertise, using a scientific approach and capitalizing on best practices from other parts of the world.

Mr. Ghulam Qadir Shah, National Coordinator MFF Programme presented details of the progress made under MFF in Pakistan and the programme’s future plans – citing key achievements such as the massive million mangroves plantation campaign jointly underway with Pakistan Navy, and the support provided in getting Astola declared as Pakistan’s first marine protected area. He said efforts were also being made towards getting Churna and Miana Hore declared as protected areas.

He informed that the MFF Programme was greatly contributing to capacity building of government, civil society, the private sector and local communities and promoting investment in coastal resources conservation through its grants program. MFF, a regional initiative, which came about after the 2004 Tsunami, left many countries vulnerable to the rapid depletion of coastal resources.

MFF activities in Pakistan are being implemented through small and medium grant projects, which is unique in a way because it is open to a vast segment including, governmental organisations, civil society, the media and the academia, that are interested in implementing projects along the Pakistani coast. Though MFF uses mangroves as a flagship ecosystem in recognition of the destruction caused to mangroves by the tsunami, MFF is inclusive of all coastal ecosystems, including coral reefs, estuaries, lagoons, sandy beaches, sea grasses and wetlands.

In Pakistan, the Ministry of Environment acts as the National Focal Agency for supervising and guiding the implementation of project activities through IUCN Pakistan.

 

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

Mr. George Sadiq, Programme Officer, Education Communication and Outreach

Cell: 0345-2006612, email:  [email protected];
 

The Mangroves for the Future (MFF) programme is a regional initiative operating in eight countries including India, Indonesia, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. MFF aims to strengthen the environmental sustainability of coastal development, and to promote the investment in coastal ecosystem management. In 2011, under the MFF programme, nine organisations were awarded small grants to work on several unique projects in Sindh and Balochistan.

 

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