Wetlands at the heart of conservation: IUCN Pakistan marks World Wetlands Day 2023
World Wetlands Day was celebrated in Azad Pattan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir today with a focus on the conservation and restoration of wetlands in the region. The day is observed annually on 2nd February to raise awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and the planet. The theme for this year is “It’s Time for Wetlands Restoration,” which highlights the urgent need to prioritize wetland restoration.
Wetlands are unique ecosystems that provide a wide range of environmental, economic, and social benefits including water purification, flood control, carbon storage, and habitat for wildlife. Despite their importance, wetlands are facing significant threats globally, including habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change.
IUCN Pakistan organized an event at Azad Pattan, AJ&K to mark the occasion and highlight the significance of wetlands in this fragile region. The event included an interactive session on wetlands conservation and restoration which was followed by a conservation walk.
In a statement, Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan, said, “Wetlands play a critical role in the health of our environment, providing essential services and support to communities and economies. However, these valuable ecosystems are facing numerous challenges, and it is crucial that we take immediate action to conserve and restore them.”
“The observance of World Wetlands Day provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of wetlands and to promote conservation and restoration efforts in the region,” he added.
In his keynote speech, Mr. Asim Jamal, Project Manager Karot BMP implementation, highlighted the importance of wetlands and role of IUCN Pakistan, government departments and local community in protection of biodiversity, wildlife and fisheries in the area of Panjaar, Azad Pattan and Beor Punjab which are the focus areas for 720 MW Karot Hydropower Project being developed and operated by the Karot Power Company Limited.
The celebration of World Wetlands Day in Azad Jammu and Kashmir was attended by government officials, experts, students, and members of the general public. The events aimed to create a platform for dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders and to mobilize action for the protection and restoration of wetlands in the region.
“Wetlands are under threat, but they are also our best hope for the future. By working together, we can ensure that the rich biodiversity and essential services provided by wetlands are protected and restored for future generations,” Mr. Cheema said in conclusion.