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Saturday November 27, 2021

A pledge to sustain biodiversity

By Ali Basit
June 05, 2020

World Environment Day is being organized under the auspices of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to spread worldwide awareness on environmental issues. The Day is celebrated every year on 5th June since 1974 and it has become a dynamic platform for promoting progress on the environmental dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals. Almost over 150 countries participate each year in the event along with other major corporations, non-governmental organizations, and civil societies to take action on critical environmental challenges facing the planet. The theme for this year’s World Environment Day is biodiversity — a call for action to synergize global efforts to combat the species loss and degradation of the natural world.

A Biodiversity is a degree of variation of living things that makes up life on Earth. It comprises of 8 million or more species on Earth ranging from plants and animals to fungi and bacteria and also encompasses the ecosystems which houses them. Healthy ecosystems along with rich biodiversity are fundamental to human existence as it sustain the environment in countless ways by cleaning up air, purifying water, ensuring the availability of nutritious foods and reducing the occurrence of disasters. Unfortunately, we have not taken care of nature the way we needed to do and therefore, the world is witnessing unparalleled bushfires, locust invasions, and the death of coral reefs - an underwater ecosystem. Human pressures have already transformed the majority of the world’s ecosystems by destroying and degrading marine and other aquatic habitats and undermining the services they used to provide.

According to a latest report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) stated that around one million plant and animal species are facing extinction. The result of this extinction may increase the losses in biodiversity thus, encouraging the spread of infectious diseases and viruses. According to a 2019 report by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “natural forests are declined by 6.5 million hectares per year between 2010 and 2015 (in total, an area larger than the UK) and natural wetlands declined by 35% between 1970 and 2015.”

The report further noted that “over 30% of corals are now at risk from bleaching, and 60% of vertebrate populations have disappeared since 1970.” These significant changes are driven by land-use change, over-exploitation of natural resources including plants and animals, pollution, invasive alien species (threaten biodiversity by crossbreeding with local species and bringing diseases) and climate change. According to an estimation by OECD, the biodiversity services are worth an estimated US $125-140 trillion per year, more than one and a half times the size of global GDP. However, due to the continuous decline in biodiversity, it reducing nature’s capacity to contribute to people’s well-being.

Apprehending the importance of issue in hand, Pakistan Navy is going an extra mile by stimulating its efforts for preventing biodiversity loss and preserving nature for country’s future. Pakistan Navy celebrates World Environment day every year by arranging a number of activities on this Day to limelight the significance of environment in Pakistan. These activities include various lectures and seminars on the importance of the day to promote public awareness, cleaning campaigns in Harbours and Coasts, environment awareness walks, social media campaigns and displaying of environment protection banners at various public places.

In addition, in align with the Federal Government’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP) and PM’s Green initiatives (GI), Pakistan Navy annual tree plantation campaign has been a regular feature. In a leap forward, Pakistan Navy Tree Plantation campaign 2020 encompasses; fifth consecutive mangrove plantation campaign in coastal and creeks areas, reviving of forests in Margallah hills of Pakistan and plantation of trees in green belts, Moringa Orchards and Fruit Orchards. Resultantly, not only mangroves but plantation of hundreds of sapota, guava, coconut, banana and date palm trees and indigenous sowing of seeds of pipal, siras, swanjna, jangli jaleebi, badaam, African gladia and other environment friendly species will take place under various seasonal drives and other ‘Sur Subz’ initiatives. During the campaign, the plants are not only planted but also being nourished and protected in the numerous nurseries. Furthermore, special Reed Bed Wetland Systems are being maintained in order to grow thousands of cuttings (Qalms) and to provide thousands of gallons sewerage treated water per day for irrigation.

Being whole of a nation effort, Pakistan Navy has been coordinating with different agencies for various environment related initiatives. PN Mangroves Plantation Campaign (MPC) has been continued in coordination with IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Pakistan and provincial Forest and Wildlife Departments Since 2016. Since then PN has already planted nearly 7 million mangroves saplings. This year PN is planning to grow atleast 3 Million mangroves along the coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan. To extend the cooperation further, recently a MoU has been signed between PN and Sindh Forest department regarding provisioning of mangroves plants /seeds and technical assistance to PN. A similar sort of MoU between PN and other provisional forest departments are also under consideration. Alongwith government departments, civil society including Karachi Relief Trust (KRT), Thalassemia affected kids of Kashif lqbal Thalassemia Care Centre (KITCC) and nationwide education institutes are participating in PN’s campaigns related to beach cleaning, tree plantation etc.

The initiatives illustrates Pakistan Navy cognizance to the dynamicity of global climate change and its impact on our lives. On this year’s environment day also, the Pakistan Navy reaffirmed its resolve to preserve national environment in its area of responsibility in close collaboration with Ministry of Climate Change and other national as well as International organizations; especially against air and marine pollution which directly affects the quality of life. As a whole nation we have a role to play in preventing biodiversity loss and preserving nature for our future. If we have to change the course of destruction, we must first LEARN about what we can do; SHARE that knowledge with our communities on World Environment Day; and ACT on the things we need to change.