Endangered Mangrove forest of Pakistan

Pakistan is fortunate with rich and varied natural reserves, mangrove ecosystem is one of them. Mangroves forests of Pakistan in Indus delta and along Arabian Sea coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan. The mangrove swamps of the Sindh coastal zone are extensive, covering 243,000 hectares (ha) compared with 7,400 ha along the Balochistan coast. At times, over 600,000 hectares of Pakistan’s coastline was under mangrove forestation. But today, as per estimates, mangroves are 129,000 hectors in the Indus delta, and over 3,000 hectors in Miani Hor, Kalmat Khor and Gwadar bay areas; probably the tenth largest in the world. The mangroves forest not only act as shield against disastrous cyclones and hurricanes, but mainly are hatchery for marine life. They have their own economic value to the coastal zones and their significance in soil conservation, fuel, fodder is evident. But, for several years in the past, mangrove forests remained ignored and their potential continued neglected. A number of schemes i.e. ‘Environmental protection and management project’, ‘Mangrove plantation for rehabilitation of Korangi-Phitti creek system’, ‘Development of mangrove forests in the Indus Delta’, ‘Working Plan of Mangrove Forests of Indus Delta from 1985-86 to 2004-05’ with the bilateral and regional cooperation in the UNDP/UNESCO/IUCN/ADB and many other agencies’ regional projects have been planned for the restoration and rehabilitation of mangroves, but, deterioration is higher than restoration. Various national and international agencies have been reported a substantial reduction in the extent of mangroves, both in area and density. National Commission on agriculture reported in 1988 that no category of forest has suffered and seriously threatened by anthropogenic activities than the mangroves forests. The Department of Forestry and Fisheries is accountable for the management of mangrove forests in Pakistan. Mangrove forests were declared ‘protected forests’ in 1958 under the Pakistan Forest Act of 1927, and water channels were declared ‘wildlife sanctuaries’ in 1977 under the Sind Wildlife Protection Ordinance of 1972. More than five decades, mangroves forest has been subject to exploitation because of massive population. In 1965, a survey by Pakistan Forest Institute concluded that 400,000 ha covered by mangroves, but by 2001, this figure was reduced to 158,000 ha. Thousands of people directly or indirectly depends on the mangrove ecosystem for living and are therefore worsening rapidly in the quantity as well as quality. In Pakistan, economic importance of mangroves mainly depends on the fishery resource that they harbor. About 80 per cent of fish caught in coastal water spent part of their life cycle within the mangroves ecosystem. Shrimp fishery is the major marine export of mangroves, accounting for 68 per cent of the $100 million of the foreign exchange for Pakistan. The main rationale of mangrove restoration in Indus Delta and along Baluchistan coastal line by Pakistan Navy is to maintain a contribution to national economy. The navy has also undertaken similar campaigns in the past. Estimated contribution of mangroves to shrimp and fishery industry was 8.8 billion rupees in 2003. In the circumstances where earth nature is being damaged by so called human progress and industrial revolution which certainly causing severe and ruthless harm to the nature, we need to protect it by putting some valuable efforts or at least not letting our existing environment destroy.

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