Aiming at long-term biodiversity conservation in an ecologically rich region of Thar, the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) through Thar Foundation and Pakistan’s top environmental body International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has launched a first ever survey of the fauna and flora of Tharparkar.
The survey will assess the existing state of biodiversity and produce a fauna and flora inventory of the target area with the occurrence, distribution, relative abundance, and diversity of species along with their conservation status. The survey will also cover birds, reptiles, amphibians, small and large mammals, insects and vegetation. The data collected will lead to the identification and GIS-based mapping of wildlife hotspots and ecologically sensitive areas.
The partnership agreement was signed in a ceremony which was attended by the representatives of IUCN Pakistan, Planning and Development Department, Sindh Wildlife Department, elected representatives from Thar, SECMC, Thar Foundation, and BaanhnBeli
Speaking on the occasion, Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SECMC and Thar Foundation highlighted the importance of such a survey and linked it to the ongoing conservation efforts currently underway through a SECMC-IUCN partnership in Thar. “The data gathering activities about the fauna and flora will immensely benefit in assessment of the animal and plant species for appropriate action,” he hoped.
Providing the overview, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, IUCN Country Representative the survey would assess the existing state of biodiversity and produce a fauna and flora inventory of the target area with the occurrence, distribution, relative abundance and diversity of species along with their conservation status. It will cover birds, reptiles, amphibians, small and large mammals, insects and vegetation. The data collected will lead to the identification and GIS-based mapping of wildlife hotspots and ecologically sensitive areas, he added.
MPA from Tharparkar Muhammad Qasim Soomro highlighted the need for such initiatives, which contributed to the sustainable development of Thar. He appreciated the role SECMC was playing in Thar and assured the company of any support required. He said that Tharparkar is historically been home to rich biodiversity, made of fertile dryland swathes, sand dunes and sandy tracts, mountains where communities had been practicing rain-fed agriculture and livestock rearing.
Former Senator Javed Jabbar appreciated the initiative and highlighted the social diversity of Tharparkar which is a hallmark of communal harmony in Pakistan. He emphasized engaging local communities to benefit from their folk knowledge about the biodiversity of the region. Renowned ecologist Z B Mirza explained through his presentation that each habitat and landform in the desert ecosystem support distinctive plants and animals and the food chain for human survival. Tharparkar’s ecosystem is home to a variety of physical, biological and cultural resources that have significant conservation value for the national and international community, he added.
Javed Mahar, Chief Conservator, Sindh Wildlife Department said that to assess the fauna population and species diversity on such a scale, robust methods are required for each habitat type. He added that to ensure that any future development is responsible, ecological aspects must be factored into such developmental planning at early stages. It is therefore imperative, he added, that a comprehensive Ecological Baseline of Thar’s flora and fauna be carried out, with a view to providing a strong basis for long-term developmental planning.