Forests are primary source of livelihoods for thousands of local communities and currently they were diminishing due to multiple threats. This was stated by speakers on occasion of World Forest Day observed by WWF-Pakistan under its Building Capacity on Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Areas of Pakistan (CCAP) project at Baghan town near Keti Bunder, Thatta.
Speakers urged for conservation of forests across country particularly Sindh. The event was well attended by hundreds of local community people, NGOs representatives, academia, students and media persons. Speaking on the occasion Ali Murtaza Dharejo, an environmentalist and author, said that 1.6 billion people are directly dependent on forests for their livelihoods.
He further said that the forests are the biggest sinks of carbon dioxide which decrease air and sound pollution to a greater extent. Around 3.1 per cent annual decrease in forest cover has been observed worldwide which is very alarming. He further said that environmental degradation is costing around 1 billion rupees per day. Forest land covers one third of our planet and it is home to about 80 per cent of total living species found in the world. Forests are useful for fish nurseries including shrimps and crabs. In addition, they are important source of fuel and wood. Mangroves are very significant in the sense that one hectare of mangroves produce one hundred kg of fish, 25 kg shrimps, 15 Kg of crab meat and 40 kg of sea cucumber annually. On average single tree is home to about one hundred organisms and one acre of forest absorbs the amount of carbon dioxide which is equivalent to the emissions caused by a vehicle covering 41842 km distance.
He said that major threats to forests in Pakistan include illegal occupation, non-availability river water, reduced rain fall and drastic climate change impacts. He warned that if new dams and barrages are constructed it would further exacerbate the situation.
Muhammad Tahir Abbasi, Site Co-ordinator CCAP, WWF-Pakistan, said that Pakistan’s total forest cover is about 1,902,000 hectares but unfortunately due to rapid deforestation we are losing 41100 hectares annually. He informed that they had planted mangroves on more than 10000 hectares in coastal area of Keti Bunder. He further said that this year they have planned to plant 800 hectares of mangroves. He also remarked that project strives to promote renewable energy to decrease pressure on vanishing forests in the area.
Rukhsana Memon Community Development Officer CCAP, WWF-Pakistan informed that local communities have been engaged in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts by rehabilitation and plantation of mangroves. She further said that mangroves provide not only sustainable livelihoods but play vital role in safeguarding coastal communities from cyclones and other natural hazards.
On this occasion, students from The Citizen Foundation (TCF) and government schools of Baghan, Kharo Chann and Keti Bunder participated in various activities related to importance of forests, such as tableau’s, painting and speech competition. Shields and prizes were distributed among students.
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