By Paras Ali

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH), a subsidiary of Pakistan Science Foundation, Ministry of Science and Technology and Beijing Museum of Natural History (BMNH) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the areas of natural history.

PMNH Director General Dr. Syed Azhar Hasan and BMNH Director Prof. Meng Qinjin signed the MoU on behalf of their respective Museums. Counsellor (Technical Affairs), Embassy of Pakistan, Beijing, China, Zameer Ahmad Awan, was also present on the occasion.

The areas of cooperation covered under this MoU will include joint scientific research activities, exchange of researchers, students, scientific publications and collection of specimens, reciprocal information and cooperation in exhibition.

Talking with Technology Times Dr. Hasan said under the MoU PMNH will arrange an exhibition of Pakistans endemic species in China this year and later on Beijing Museum will arrange a similar exhibition in Pakistan.

Dr. Hasan further said that this MoU will help both the countries to work on trans-boundary biodiversity. As a healthy trans-boundary ecosystem provides great value to both countries, a scientific assessment of biodiversity status, threats and needs is essential, he added.

This collaboration between Pakistan and China will further enhance the endeavours to the UNESCOs Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, which an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme is aiming to set a scientific basis for the improvement of the relationships between people and their environment globally, Dr. Hasan said.

MAB is concerned with problems at the interface of scientific, environmental, societal and development issues, MAB combines natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and safeguard natural ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that is socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.

Biodiversity resources help in building the resilience and adaptation of local communities to the impacts of climate induced natural disasters such as droughts, floods and low productivity. The biodiversity of Pakistan remains threatened by the growing population, rise in poverty, poor governance and the dependence of the local communities on the ecosystem for goods and services to meet their livelihood needs.

A number of international initiatives exist for the sustainable management of Pakistans natural resources, establishing biosphere reserves through UNESCOs Man and Biosphere Reserves programme has not been fully tapped mainly due to weak implementation and enforcement at national level.

It is worth mentioning that at present China Biosphere Reserve Network has 141 members, including 28 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves; the Indian government has established 17 Biosphere Reserves, including 7 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves; while Pakistan has established only one Biosphere Reserve, “Lal Suhanra” declared in 1976 as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which still has ambiguity.

It is needed to take larger Pak-China trans-boundary initiatives to protect the biodiversity not only in combined Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindukush regions but also to transfer of technology and expertise. It is hoped that this MoU will develop coordination between both countries to preserve the biodiversity of the region.

The current visit of PMNH officers to BMNH was an arrangement under Pakistan-China 17th Science and Technology Protocol to find out the areas of cooperation between the two Museums.  This interaction between the two museums will greatly help in up-gradation of research and public education standard. Delegation of DG, PMNH, Dr. Syed Azhar Hasan and Senior Operational Manager, Muhammad Akhtar Javeds also visited several other museums in Beijing.

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