Govt asked to declare Bundal Island marine protected area

Published February 17, 2021
The ecology of the island is being disturbed because of alarming increase in forest cutting. — Dawn archives
The ecology of the island is being disturbed because of alarming increase in forest cutting. — Dawn archives

KARACHI: Sharing his observations and documentary evidence and highlighting threats to mangroves lying off the city’s coast, particularly those existing in and around Bundal Island and Khiprianwala Island, noted architect Tariq Alexander Qaiser on Tuesday made a passionate call for their protection, urging the government to declare Bundal as a marine protected area.

Illegal cutting of forests on Bundal Island, he pointed out, had increased dramatically over the past few months to an extent that it had disturbed the island’s ecology.

This emerged during a webinar titled ‘Karachi’s Hidden Forest on the Edge of Delta’, organised by Aga Khan University’s Sixth Sense Forum.

“The island of Bundal is extremely important as it has dense forests. In recent winter, we found the whole island resounding with the noise of chainsaws, scaring migratory birds away. It needs to stop,” said Mr Qaiser, also an avid photographer, writer and nature conservationist.

He acknowledged, though, locals had been using mangrove wood for a long time in a sustainable manner and there had been times when tree cutting either increased or slowed down. But, now there was too much pressure on the forests as the wood was apparently being used for industrial purposes.

The ecology of the island is being disturbed because of alarming increase in forest cutting

He emphasised that the city of Karachi needed green spaces like these islands located off the city’s coast that should be preserved to act as carbon sinks.

“If we are to live in this city with a certain quality of life and breathability of life then these are the very places [we should invest in for ourselves and future generations],” he noted.

The topography of Bundal Island, he observed, was such that it could be used to create a very vibrant and large mangrove forest.

“I feel so strongly that we have an opportunity to make a difference. If there is a will within the establishment and government, we can create a green, ecologically friendly place. It’s an opportunity that needs to be grabbed,” he said.

Tale of abuse

Earlier, the programme started off with the introduction of the guest by Kulsoom Ghais and Sami Sadrudin, representing the AKU’s organising committee.

Mr Qaiser has authored two books, Baltistan — Apricot Bloom and Sumandar Par, both a beautiful compilation of poetry, photographs and essays.

He, the audience was told, is currently working on a four-volume book and documentary on the ecology of Karachi’s forests titled Karachi-Korangi Creeks — Edge of Delta.

It’s about the beauty, quantum and density of Karachi’s mangrove forests, their amazing ecosystems and the author’s experiences and interactions with the locals who come to work on these uninhabited islands.

Sharing how he developed an interest in exploring mangroves, Mr Qaiser said his focus turned to the forests when his ‘fishing career’ sort of ended due to a steep decline in the fish stocks in early 2000. This was the time when the government allowed foreign trawlers to sail in its waters that caused enormous loss to marine ecology.

Over the years, Mr Qaiser documented how mangroves and their associated biodiversity was being lost and felt that this issue must be raised and discussed at all forums.

“These ecosystems are incredibly vibrant and have adapted to live with the abuse that we give. The stories of their decay need to be told and discussed,” he said, calling for stronger advocacy for their protection.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2021

Opinion

Diverging paths
Updated 15 Apr 2021

Diverging paths

It seems that Imran Khan is feeling the pain of the adjustment that he has had to undertake.
Judging the judges
15 Apr 2021

Judging the judges

In the end, like Joan of Arc, they were made to pay with their blood.
People to people
Updated 15 Apr 2021

People to people

By facilitating access, the governments of India and Pakistan can start to build trust and understanding between the two publics.
Hostage to extremism
Updated 14 Apr 2021

Hostage to extremism

Once again, the TLP has succeeded in bringing the administration to its knees.

Editorial

Afghanistan exit
Updated 15 Apr 2021

Afghanistan exit

Afghanistan has suffered for decades as powerful local players have refused to compromise and have insisted on hogging power.
15 Apr 2021

New census

EARLIER this week, the Council of Common Interests approved the controversial National Population and Housing ...
15 Apr 2021

With no place to go

No matter where one looks, one can’t escape the heartrending sight of scores of children of all ages begging, ...
TLP protests
Updated 14 Apr 2021

TLP protests

For the good of the country, and its image as a nation where extremism has no place, such groups must be strictly reined in.
14 Apr 2021

PPP’s formal exit

THE PPP’s formal resignation from all offices of the PDM comes as no surprise after weeks of tension and public...
14 Apr 2021

Natanz attack

AS the P5+1 and Iran try to breathe life back into the JCPOA, as the nuclear deal is officially known, it appears...