Tuesday April 23, 2024

Youth carry out clean up activity at Trail V

By Afshan S. Khan
December 04, 2022

Islamabad : More than one hundred university students and nature lover participated in the hiking and clean up drive at Margalla Hills Train-5 after an interactive session on wildlife and biological diversity of the Margalla Hills here on Saturday.

The daylong event was organized by the Development Communications network (Devcom-Pakistan), DTN and Islamabad Wildlife Management board (IWM) in connection with ongoing two-week long 12th Pakistan Mountain Festival. Pakistan Mountain Festival is the annual flagship event of Devcom-Pakistan to commemorate the UN’s International Mountain Day (IMD) that falls on December 11.

The students of CS Adventure Club of the Comsats University Islamabad Campus, SZABIST Islamabad Campus, GBC Council participated in the event. Before the nature walk and cleanup, the IWMB chairman scientific committee ZB Mirza briefed the participants about the biological diversity and natural heritage of the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP). ZB Mirza said the Margalla Hills National Park has been quite neglected since it was established in 1980. Though, it is the third-largest national park in the world with an area of 17,386 hectares (42,960 acres) under the foothills of Himalaya.

In the recent decade, its importance was realized after seeing the impact of unwanted haphazard constructions and movement of vehicles more than its carrying capacity. Many initiatives has been taken so far to protect the wildlife and biological diversity including awareness raising among the communities living in the habitats. Mirza urged the youth to respect diversity of species, and help manage wildlife and human beings live together. The park is rich in biodiversity, especially rich in Sino-Himalayan fauna, most notably grey goral, barking deer and the Leopard. Combined MHNP is home to around 600 plant species, 402 bird varieties, 38 mammals and 27 species of reptiles. IWM Deputy Director Umme Habia said under the new management recently the IWMB has taken many steps for the protection of the Park and visitors. Many cases of woodcutting and forest fires were averted. The renovated IWMB nature education centres are the hub of activities and awareness raising sessions, and community engagement.

Speaking on the occasion, Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director and founder Pakistan Mountain festival said the Margalla Hills National Park increasingly becoming focus of visitors and illegal constructions. Solid waste management and littering have increased manifold despite many interventions y the IWMB and civil society organisations. The environment unfriendly practices have damaged the natural resources in all three parts of the National Park including hills, Rawal Lake and Sharkarparian because of their irrational policies. Ahmed said we shall encourage youth for environment friendly outdoor pursuits. It is good for their mental and physical health besides making them a responsible visitor to the nature.

Several youth engagements are in pipeline for the 12th Pakistan Mountain Festival including 8th Pakistan Mountain Youth Forum and cultural shows, and a conference. We need to work out a joint action plan for the promotion of mountains and its communities, culture art, and heritage instead of individual and scattered efforts.