Devcom webinar suggests nature conservation emergency in Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD -- Speakers at a webinar have urged the government to impose emergency for nature conservation to protect green and agricultural lands for safeguarding 260 million people from climate impact, water and food insecurity.

They said that the unsustainable housing policies and timber mafia were the biggest threats to the green and agricultural land of Pakistan, causing immense threats to ever-rapidly decreasing forests and biodiversity.

The webinar on 'The State of Pakistan's Forests and Biodiversity and the way forward' was organized by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) on Saturday, said a news release.

The keynote speakers included Pakistan's well-known and oldest biodiversity scientist ZB Mirza and WWF-International Senior Expert on Area-based Conservation Rab Nawaz. Other guest speakers were Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed, Director Cholistan Institute of Development Studies (CIDS) at Islamia University Bahawalpur Dr Muhammad Abdullah, AJK conservation expert Aftab Hussain Bokhari, marine biodiversity expert Moazzam Khan, eco-conservation expert Azhar Qureshi and National Defense University graduate Mahrukh Khan.

ZB Mirza said: "Pakistan's water resources are depleting fast with degradation of forests and biodiversity despite several conservation efforts and best practices. The conflicts between the stakeholders have added to the vulnerability of the natural resources. Timber foresters and ecologists need to resolve their conflicts on sustainable approaches. The depletion of forests is causing soil erosion, diminution of microbes, reduced fertility, and subsoil water and biodiversity."

Rab Nawaz from WWF, commenting on the Pakistan's progress on the Convention of Biological Diversity, said that there had been some great successes in bending the curve such as the Indus Blind Dolphin where the population is recovering slowly but surely.

The national animal of Pakistan, the Kashmir Markhor had been brought back from the verge of extinction, he added. "This is only possible when departments, civil society organizations and communities come together and join hands," he noted. Highlighting the challenges, Rab pointed out that though some species were doing well, there were a few that are dangerously close to extinction such as the Great Indian Bustard and the Arabian Humpback Whale.

Munir Ahmed said Pakistan's all ecological zones were suffering because of rapid urbanization and unsustainable...

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