MITHI: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) through the latter’s subsidiary, Thar Foundation, have launched a first-ever survey of flora and fauna in Tharparkar district, according to a statement issued here on Tuesday.
The partnership agreement between the SECMC and IUCN was signed in a ceremony which was attended by the representatives of IUCN-Pakistan, planning and development department, wildlife department, elected representatives from Thar, SECMC, Thar Foundation and an NGO, Baanhn Beli.
Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi of the SECMC highlighted importance of the survey and linked it to the ongoing conservation efforts currently under way through the SECMC-IUCN partnership in Thar. “The data gathering activities about the fauna and flora will immensely benefit in assessment of the animal and plant species for appropriate action,” he said.
Providing an overview, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema of the IUCN-Pakistan said that the survey would assess the existing state of biodiversity and produce a fauna and flora inventory of the target area with occurrence, distribution, relative abundance and diversity of species along with their conservation status. “It will cover birds, reptiles, amphibians, small and large mammals, insects and vegetation. The data collected will lead to the identification and GIS-based mapping of wildlife hotspots and ecologically sensitive areas, he added.
Tharparkar MPA Qasim Siraj Soomro highlighted the need for such initiatives contributing to the sustainable development of Thar.
He said Tharparkar had been historically home to rich biodiversity; it was made of fertile drylands swathes, sand dunes and sandy tracts, mountains where communities had been practicing rain-fed agriculture and livestock rearing.
Former senator Javed Jabbar appreciated the initiative and highlighted the social diversity of Tharparkar, which is a hallmark of communal harmony in Pakistan. He emphasised on engaging local communities to benefit from their folk knowledge about the biodiversity of the region.
Ecologist Z.B. Mirza explained through his presentation that each habitat and landform in the desert ecosystem supported distinctive plants and animals and the food chain for human survival. Thar’s ecosystem was home to a variety of physical, biological and cultural resources that had significant conservation value for the national and international community, he added.
Javed Mahar, chief conservator of the Sindh wildlife department, said that to assess the fauna population and species diversity on such a scale, robust methods were required for each habitat type.
Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2020