Conservation of Chotiari’s biodiversity may be possible now


KARACHI – The Chotiari Conservation Information Centre (CCIC) established by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Pakistan under its Indus for All Programme was inaugurated on Friday in Chotiari, Sanghar district. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Netherlands embassy’s First Secretary (Environment and Water) Jan Willem Cools said that all segments of the civil society need to play their due part in preserving, conserving and protecting natural resources and biodiversity of the province that are grappled with different risks because of unchecked environmental degradation and unsustainable use of the natural resources.
Cools hoped that the CCIC would raise awareness about the threat to local biodiversity and natural resources while sensitising the local community and social networks for joining the efforts of WWF-Pakistan for biodiversity conservation.
“The province is replete with unique wildlife species and abundant natural resources but their illegal hunting and indefensible use, respectively have seriously harmed the system,” he said.
Lauding the efforts of Indus for All Programme for going an extra mile in conservation and protection of biodiversity in and around the Chotiari Reservoir, the Netherlands embassy’s secretary said that he was impressed by various initiatives launched by the programme around Chotiari that have proved helpful in discouraging illegal hunting and promoting environment-friendly lifestyle.
Earlier, WWF-Pakistan Director Rab Nawaz appreciated the support provided by the Sindh government and the civil society organisations for implementing the programme in four priority areas.
Speaking at length about the aims and objectives of the CCIC, Programme Coordinator Nasir Ali Panhwar described it a great facility for teachers, students, researchers and other members of civil society to increase their knowledge on different aspects of local wildlife, forests, vegetation, lakes and other natural resources.
Talking about WWF-Pakistan’s role in raising environmental awareness, Panhwar told the participants that so far the organisation has set up eight such information centres, four of which are in Sindh, namely Wetland Information Centre at Sandspit Beach in Karachi; Indus Dolphin Centre in Sukkur; Keenjhar Conservation and Information Centre; and CCIC.
“The CCIC holds promising economic potential and will help to promote ecotourism, which will open new avenues of livelihood for the locals. Besides, a tuck shop has also been established in the centre to help promote local handicrafts at a larger level and strengthen local artisans’ income sources,” said Panhwar. Eminent educationist Prof Qalandar Shah Lakyari pointed out that besides industrialisation, which speeded up the pace of unplanned urbanisation, the increasing population has put enormous pressure on natural resources. He underlined the need for environmental-friendly urbanisation and urged that urban planners, both in government and private sectors, should introduce plans that do not conflict with the rural lifestyle and environment.
Chotiari Conservation Forum’s Majeed Mangrio said the Indus for All Programme has also taken local community-based organisations as partners in conservation and protection of natural resources of the area. Terming environmental education for students as imperative, Environmental writer Ishtiaque Ansari hoped that the CCIC will contribute significantly towards creating awareness among students as well as the masses. Prof Amar Leghari said the information centre would help people to connect with nature, adding that universities should also come forward for using this facility to conduct research on the ecology of Chotiari.
Aziz Ranjhani, Nawaz Kumbhar, the programme’s Keenjhar site manager Hafeez Gambheer, Keti Bunder site manager Ghulam Rasool Khatri, Pai Forest site manager Usama Anwar, Ishtiaq Ansari, environmentalist and others also spoke on the occasion. Earlier, tableau and cultural dances were performed by the students from local schools to deliver messages meant for raising awareness and educating the programme participants about environmental degradation due to human activities.