Sindh-Balochistan coast under environmental pressure: report
KARACHI: Environment experts have called for incorporating scientific principles of protecting the coast in development projects being undertaken along it, as coastal erosion according to them has aggravated in the areas where unplanned construction has been undertaken.
There was a need for a policy to deal with the situation, they said while speaking at a national consultative workshop organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in collaboration with the Climate Change Division under the federal government.
The programme was held to discuss and debate the draft of a national assessment report on coastal erosion in Pakistan. It was part of a two-year regional project, Strengthening the Resilience of Coastal Communities, Ecosystems, and Economies to Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Erosion, funded by the Mangroves for the Future (MFF) Initiative.
Sharing the findings of the report, the speakers said the coast of Sindh and Balochistan was under environmental pressure due to development activities being undertaken for the construction of harbours and ports, dredging, land reclamation, disposal of solid waste and sewage. These activities, they said, had made the coast vulnerable to erosion.
The beaches along Balochistan coast that used to be stabilised until the late 1980s had now been facing massive erosion at Kund Hub, Gadani, Damb, Pasni, Gwadar, and Jiwani, due to development of structures in the coastal zones, they said. At some areas, they added, erosion was so strong that seawater had found its way to enter the residences of the local community. Shah Bundar, Jati, Kharo Chan, Keti Bundar, Ghorabari, Bundal were the areas in Sindh facing fast erosion due to sea intrusion, they said, warning that the process would speed up on account of climate change and there was a need for future planning.
The speakers strongly recommended to the authorities concerned that coastal development authorities of Sindh and Balochistan should set up a task force to monitor and control the coastal erosion.
They also appreciated the mangroves conservation and plantation along the coast, as these trees presented a natural solution to save the coast.
“Given the scale of the adverse impacts of climate change, intensive collaborative efforts are needed to promote sustainable management of coastal resources, as no single initiative or agency can address all of these issues single-handedly,” said Sindh Chief Secretary Sajjad Saleem Hotiana in his keynote address.
He expressed the hope that the report on coastal erosion would help draw the attention of coastal stakeholders and policy makers to the emerging problem and strengthen regional collaboration.
Dr Wong Poh Poh, a consultant to the coordinating body on the Seas of East Asia, United Nations Environment Programme, said the national assessment report would not only address the coastal erosion but would also be a major document and reference in the development of new plans, policies, strategies and programmes on integrated coastal management.
Aban Marker Kabraji, the IUCN Regional Director for Asia, highlighted efforts of her organisation that she said had planted a large number of mangroves along the vulnerable coasts across the region as mangroves acted as a major protection against sea level rise in low-lying inland areas.
She also underscored the need for conducting studies on the extent of tree-coverage required along the coasts prior to the plantation of mangroves.
Earlier, IUCN Pakistan Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema in his welcome address said the organisation had been taking necessary steps towards promoting institutional collaboration at the national and regional levels and was actively engaged in the conservation of coastal mangrove ecosystem in collaboration with provincial forest departments of Sindh and Balochistan contributing to minimising the negative impacts of climate change – such as coastal erosion and sea erosion.
The Mangroves for the Future (MFF) Initiative focuses on two countries – Thailand and Pakistan – and is being implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Coordinating Body of the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) in collaboration with national partner institutions in Thailand and Pakistan.
In Pakistan, Climate Change Division, Islamabad is acting as the National Focal Agency for supervising and guiding the implementation of the project activities through the IUCN, Pakistan.