In an interview with The News on Monday evening, Jerker Tamelander, Head, Coral Reef Unit, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), talked about the importance of mangrove plantation, coral reefs and the role they play as a habitat for many fish species.
Tamelander is based in Bangkok and have been visiting Pakistan. He is here to attend the Ninth Regional Committee of the Mangroves for the Future (MFF), which is being held here under the auspices of the IUCN.
Q: Mangrove plantation in Pakistan is commendable since it helps fight tsunamis and are nurseries for fish and prawns, but some people complain that the species being planted in Sindh are originally from Balochistan and do not suit the former. Would you comment?
A: There have been a lot of efforts to restore mangroves in Pakistan and this is indeed an activity that is needed, but often mangrove restoration or replanting is so difficult. In reality there are many challenges. For example, where the hydrology of a coastal area has been altered it may make it more difficult to successfully replant mangroves and by this I mean both the supply of fresh water from rivers and the tidal flooding. And on top of that some mangrove species are easier to grow in nurseries whereas a natural mangrove system is usually composed of several different species in different zones. The point I am making is that there are many reasons for failures in mangrove restoration but there are also many examples where it has been carried out very well and by learning from these experiences and following best practice, mangrove restoration in Pakistan will continue to yield benefits.
Q: I have seen coral reefs in Astula Island in Balochistan. Would you comment on the importance of coral reefs?
A: The interesting thing about Pakistan’s coral reefs is that comparatively little is known about them. In the last few years there have been some surveys to document the reefs, but their diversity and their importance for the ecosystem services they might provide have not yet been studied in detail and further work is needed in Pakistan.
Q: What services coral reefs provide?
A: Coral reefs provide an important habitat for many fish species but we currently don’t know how important this is for the coastal fishery and the fishing community in Pakistan. There may also be a case to assess the adequacy of current marine and coastal management in protecting coral reefs.