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May 18, 2020

PN’s mangrove plantation campaign: sustaining the sustenance

Karachi

May 18, 2020

The implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal-14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development requires global action towards the protection, conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of mangrove ecosystems.

Mangrove forests are some of the most productive and biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. They deliver incredible ecosystem services that play a critical role in supporting human well-being through climate regulation, disaster risk reduction, food security, and poverty reduction. Mangrove ecosystems provide protection from the impacts of climate change, often for some of the world’s most vulnerable people, by attenuating wave energy and storm surges, adapting to rising sea levels, and stabilising shorelines from erosion. Mangrove ecosystem are also an incredible source of carbon sequestration and storage, giving them an important role in climate mitigation.

The blue economy has been termed the one which is sustainable. Sustainability does not only mean reducing or minimising the impact of a process on environment amid its various steps, it is also more about developing a system which is both eco-focused and environmentally conscious and cyclic and can sustain.

A sustainable process is not always the most economical one, but it should be more encompassing, demanding more activities on a collaborative front of any desired, social, economic and environmental growth. To capitalise fully on the blue economy one requires a sustainable marine ecosystem and mangrove plantation plays a vital role in this regard by procuring the marine habitat and providing essential ecosystem services ranging from climate mitigation to biodiversity.

Pakistan, in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals pertaining to the blue Economy, has been actively participating in mangrove tree plantation for a couple of years. The role of the Pakistan Navy in this regard has been appreciable. For the last four years, the Pakistan Navy has taken bold initiatives in reviving mangrove forests all along the coast and has planted about six million mangroves, all along the coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan. This year too, in line with the government vision of Clean and Green Pakistan, the Pakistan Navy has launched its fifth consecutive mangrove plantation campaign along the coastal areas.

Moreover, it is expected to plant some three million mangrove plants this year too. Since 2016, the navy has planted more than two million mangroves along the coast, from Shah Bandar to Jiwani.

It has demonstrated its commitment to protect Pakistan’s unique ecosystem through its partnership with Mangroves for the Future (MFF) since 2011. MFF’s partnership with the navy has evolved from localised actions to more strategic policy-level engagement: from a small-grant project in 2011 that focused on raising environmental awareness among navy personnel, to supporting the designation of Pakistan’s first Marine Protected Area. Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a partnership-based regional initiative which promotes investment in coastal ecosystem and conservation for sustainable development. The initiative uses mangroves as a flagship ecosystem, but the MFF is inclusive of all types of coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs, estuaries, lagoons, sandy beaches, sea grasses and wetlands. The MFF is co-chaired by the IUCN and the UNDP, and is funded by Sida, Norad, Danida and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Thailand.

In a nutshell, the disquieting decline rate of mangroves has affected biodiversity of coastal areas and degraded the marine ecosystem. Therefore, it is imperative to forestall deforestation through well-conceived policies and integrated institutional measures for economic sustenance and growth. Reiterating the Pakistan Navy’s commitment to play its role in preserving mangrove forests, it is also imperative for the government departments, industrial community and individuals to join hands in this undertaking for the benefit of marine ecology and preserving the nature for future generations.

Ubaid Ahmed has a Master's in Defence and strategic studies.

He can be reached at [email protected]