STAFF REPORT IBD: Pakistan is fast heading towards developing the Karakoram Pamir Biosphere Reserve situated in Gilgit-Baltistan which would be the third Biosphere Reserve in Pakistan having a tremendous potential for scientific research on climate change, mountain livelihood and ecosystems. However, the local communities would have to play an important role in biodiversity conservation.
Earlier, Pakistan has only two Biosphere Reserves – The Lal Sohanra National Park located in Cholistan Desert which was approved by UNESCO in 1977 and the second one is the Juniper Forest of Ziarat, believed to be the second largest juniper forest of its kind in the world, which was approved in May 2013.
Recently a two-day 5th meeting of the South and Central Asia Man and Biosphere Network (SACAM) has been organised by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and UNESCO in Islamabad.
On the occasion, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid, who was the chief guest, highlighted the primary theme of the meeting Harmonising Community Livelihood with Biodiversity Conservation. “We have to use the most suitable and appropriate method of harmonising biodiversity conservation by fulfilling the need of the local communities,” he maintained.
About the second theme of the meeting Biodiversity and Emerging Global Issues in Biosphere Reserves, the minister warned about the global warming and resultant climate change which is a very serious phenomenon the whole world is facing, affecting all the socio-economic sectors, including agriculture and food production, water resources, ecosystem, biodiversity, infrastructure and human health.
He particularly mentioned that Pakistan being a developing country is in a similar but critical situation. It is ranked at 135th position in carbon dioxide emissions which damage the environment. Yet, it is faced with severe climate changes and has been ranked third in the list of most vulnerable countries to climate change, he explained.
Fresh studies reveal that glaciers in the eastern and central regions of the Himalayas appear to be retreating at rates that have accelerated over the past century.
The minister said that he was certain that the recommendations of the experts will be of great benefit to the government of Pakistan in implementing plans for the management of its Biospheres Reserves. This would also be in line with the national agenda being implemented by the Ministry of SandT for the establishment of a sound and sustainable science and technological research base.
Speaking at the occasion, Federal Sectary for SandT Kamran Ali Qureshi highlighted the importance of the event. He appreciated the role of the national and international organisations for the public awareness regarding the global issues of climate change and global warming.
In his address, Co-Chairman National MAB Committee/Chairman PSF Dr. Khalil Ahmed Ibupoto said that the world community has recognized that without the change of direction towards sustainable development, life would not be worth living for future generations.
Dr. Ibupoto said that the National MAB Committee in collaboration with stakeholders has been able to reactivate the MAB Programme in Pakistan.
He said that in one year it has been able to get designation of one biospehere reserve, i.e. Ziarat Juniper Biosphere Reserve, from UNESCO, submitted nomination of another biosphere i.e. Karakoram Pamir Biosphere Reserve and reviewed status of already declared Biosphere Reserve, the Lal Sohanara Biosphere Reserve.
The PSF Chairman said this shows the commitment and engagement of PSF in finding solutions to these complex questions through modern approaches.