International conference suggests strengthened research on biodiversity

STAFF REPORT MUZAFFARABAD: An international conference recently held in Muzaffarabad while highlighting the factors causing the loss of biodiversity, spread of severalt epidemics and climate change in the region, suggested to strengthen the network of researchers, industry practitioners, managers, policy makers, volunteers and students for biodiversity conservation by probing the ways for integration of scientific research explorations.

The International Conference on Himalayan Biodiversity and Climate Change (ICHBCC-2014) was organized by the Faculty of Sciences, University of AJK, titled “Himalayan Biodiversity and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities”.

It is to be mentioned here that the state of AJK is a land of wonders blessed with unparalleled natural beauty with diverse ecology including its breath-taking landscapes, high mountains blanketed with green grass and covered with towering trees, the snow-capped peaks forming a stunning back-ground, the meandering rivers curling through mountains, the naturally formed cascades and lakes cast a spell on the beholder.

Objectives of the event were to share stock of the latest contributions in the field of regional and global biodiversity conservation issues and their remedial measures and strengthen the network of researchers, industry practitioners, managers, policy makers, volunteers and students for biodiversity conservation.

The conference shared the stock of the latest contributions by eminent scientists in the field of regional and global biodiversity conservation issues and their remedial measures.

Syed Mahmood Nasir, Inspector General Forests Pakistan, was the Chief Guest and Prof. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Chaudhary was guest of honour in inaugural session.

Prof. Dr. Zabta Khan Shinwari described various factors which are causing the loss of biodiversity, spread of several epidemics and climate change and encouraged the youth to behave responsibly for the ethical and legal implications of research for making the conservation of biodiversity possible.

Ecosystems and biodiversity conservation, impact of climate change on biodiversity, glaciers and floods, natural resource management and sustainable energy options and statistical/ computational/ mathematical modeling studies for biodiversity conservation were focused issues on the occasion.

The speakers suggested that further progress in reducing biodiversity loss will come through greater coherence and synergies among sectoral responses and through more systematic consideration of trade-offs among ecosystem services or between biodiversity conser­vation and other needs of society.

They said that some drivers of biodiversity loss are localized, such as overexploitation and others are global, such as climate change, while many operate at a variety of scales, such as the local impacts of invasive species through global trade. Most of the responses assessed here were designed to address the direct drivers of biodiversity loss. However, these drivers are better seen as symptoms of the indirect drivers, such as unsustainable patterns of consumption, demographic change, and globalization.

The experts noted with concern that key challenges facing citizen science included non-recognition of scientific value, maintaining scientific rigour and data quality, involvement of citizen scientists representing a broad spectrum of society, political and financial guarantees for action on findings. On the other hand, they summarized opportunities like timely data from disperse sources, power to address large knowledge and funding deficits and educating public about environmental policy issues such as biodiversity.

The interactions between ministries and research organizations show clearly that ministries acknowledge the role and importance of research organizations. However, the research services rendered by research organizations do not meet the prevailing demands mainly due to lack required capacity.

Though not adequate, a one percent of GDP pledged by the government recently is a big step forward. However, more funds still need to be sourced to finance research institutions in the country. This will ensure that research institutions is well facilitated to contribute in developing big and long term competitive research projects.

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