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Pakistan attends biodiversity congress in Colombia


July 27, 2017

CARTAGENA, Colombia: Pakistan is among 74 countries participating at the global forum to tackle conservation challenges and to promote biodiversity as a continuation of the country’s commitment to balance environmental protection with sustainable economic development.

The 28th International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB 2017) will be concluding on Thursday (today). 

The Society for Conservation Biology hosted the conference. Theme of the event, held bi-annually, is ‘Insights for Sustaining Life on Earth’. The conference’s prime objective is to respond to the need for conservation science to help create a better tomorrow for both biodiversity and people who depend upon it.

Around 2,000 scientists, conservation professionals and students, policy experts and government officials from 74 countries including Pakistan are attending the congress. 

Some of the key topics were under discussion during the moot included illegal wildlife trade and traffic, resource extraction, climate change, human-wildlife conflict, regional and national conservation policies, post-conflict conservation plans of the Colombian government, consistent decrease in habitable areas for wildlife and use of modern technology like drones, acoustic devices, camera traps and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) bar codes for wildlife conservation.

Colombia was selected as a venue for the ICCB 2017 for its biologically mega-diverse nature. It is the second richest country in the world after Brazil in terms of biodiversity and is claimed to have more bird species than anywhere on earth and one-fifth of all known types of orchid.

Luis Gilberto Murillo, Colombia’s minister of environment and sustainable development said it is time to set limits on the extent they could go for economic development at the cost of nature. 

Murillo, who has a background in mining engineer, said the protected areas have been increased in Colombia and a ban imposed on issuance of mining and oil exploration there.

Besides, he said efforts have been scaled up to check illegal trafficking of species. “A stronger international collaboration is needed to tackle this challenge due to its trans-boundary nature and involvement of international rings.”

Pakistan, blessed with a wide array of flora and fauna, is seeing an increased number of endangered species due to illegal wild life trade, said a leading independent conservation organisation Wildlife Fund for Nature, Pakistan (WWF). 

“The destruction caused by illegal wildlife trade around the world is also extending to Pakistan where biodiversity and ecosystems are already at high risk with a number of endangered species being targeted for this illicit trade,” said WWF Pakistan. The organisation has enumerated multiple factors behind the flourishing of wildlife trafficking. 

“Firstly, inadequate implementation of legislation and weak penalties are ineffective deterrents for smugglers,” it said. “Secondly, bodies responsible for enforcing legislation often lack the equipment, technology and capacity to successfully spot smugglers, who often use calculated and sophisticated techniques.”

Illegal wildlife trade is not only causing huge revenue losses to national exchequer, but also disturbing the ecosystem in the country leading to climate change, various deadly diseases and socioeconomic problems.