A lot needs to be done

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While the province houses a number of wetlands, ranging from natural wetlands like Jubho Lagoon – a combination of brackish, coastal and inland lagoons and mudflats – to the artificial perennial freshwater lake like Haleji, apart from the protected Indus delta, desert water bodies and internationally important sites like the Rann of Kutch, the government and the international organisations seem less and less interested in working for the conservation of these sites. Judging by the prevalent situation on the World Wetlands Day on Thursday, it has to be said that these internationally important wetlands of Sindh need special attention. Every year on 2 February, nations around the world observe the wetlands day to mark the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on the same day in 1971. Pakistan is also a signatory to the “Convention on Wetlands” popularly known as the “Ramsar Convention”, which describes wetlands as: “Areas of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static, flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which does not exceed six metres at low tide and also ponds, water storage areas, seasonal flooding agricultural lands as well as marine, riverine and estuarine.” According to the Pakistan Wetlands Programme, there are around 225 significant artificial and natural wetlands in the country covering approximately 10 percent of the total land area. Pakistan already has 19 Ramsar sites – 10 in Sindh alone, including the Indus delta – with a total surface area of 1,343,627 hectares. Nature conservationists say many other wetlands in Sindh, like the desert wetland complex in Achhro Thar in Sanghar district, are also potential Ramsar sites, but due to lack of interest shown by government and conservation organisations, these sites are not being highlighted. Though some organisations arrange programmes, the events are limited to a few wetlands and just for the sake of publicity. Still, a lot has to be done for the conservation of these ecologically important sites and to identify more potential Ramsar sites; determine the impact of climate changes on wetlands; highlight the causes of pollution and the impact of reduced freshwater flows to wetlands.