World Wetlands Day 2022 - Message by, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan
Today is the World Wetlands Day. The theme for this year is Wetlands: Action for People and Nature which highlights the importance of actions required to conserve the wetlands and to use them sustainably. This day is celebrated worldwide to raise global awareness about an important role of wetlands in the world. These wetlands are source of fresh water and breeding grounds for Aquatic wildlife and fisheries.
Photo: IUCN Pakistan
With increasing population, industrialization, urbanizations, unplanned development and increased agriculture we are using more freshwater than nature can replenish, and are destroying the ecosystem that water and all life depend on most – Wetlands. It is estimated that around 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands.
It is a high time that collective and individual efforts are made to save the world’s wetlands from disappearing and to restore those we have degraded.
In the recent past a key milestone has been achieved was the designation of Astola Island as Pakistan’s first Marine Protected Area – this was a unique initiative which reflects the unanimous recognition of wetlands as highly valuable and rich nature resources.
IUCN Pakistan has worked towards conservation of wetlands in Pakistan. It has assisted in formulation of the National Wetlands Policy and Action Plan in 2011, and played an active role in designation of 8 new Ramsar sites in Pakistan, (Indus dolphin reserve, Nurrili lagoon, Jubbo lagoon, Hub dam, Miani Hor and Sirinda lake, Ormara turtle beaches, Astola, Jiwani turtle beach and the Mangrove forests). It also provided guidelines for the artificial releases from reservoirs to maintain downstream wetland ecosystem and dependent livelihoods in 1999. In 1997, it conducted the environmental assessment of the Haleji Lake.
Presently, IUCN Pakistan is implementing various joint initiatives in collaboration with Government of Sindh, Government of Balochistan and various private sector institutions for restoration of mangroves along the coast of Pakistan.
In addition to this, IUCN is working with key donors, including the private sector, to build coastal sustainability which is truly lasting and creates livelihood options for millions living along the coast. This is because coastal resources have always been and will continue to be a great source of natural reserves and livelihoods for millions dwelling along the coastal zones.
In partnership with Karot Power Company Private Limited, IUCN Pakistan is implementing Biodiversity Management Plan of 720 MW Karot Hydropower Project. The reservoir created on Jehlum river at Karot will gain high importance in future as one of the ecologically important wetlands, which will be managed for fish and aquatic biodiversity conservation.
As the themes recommends let us act together to ensure sustainability of the wetlands for sustainable future of our future generations.
Mahmood Akhtar Cheema
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
70-A, Main Nazimuddin Road, Sector F-7/4, Islamabad, Pakistan