The participants of a seminar have stressed the need for inculcating public awareness in order to fight desertification in Pakistan. The event was held in connection with 'World Day to Combat Desertification' which is observed globally under the aegis of the 'United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).' The Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP) and Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University (PMAS AAUR), Rawalpindi, jointly organized the seminar to commemorate the World Day on Wednesday.
They said that millions of Pakistanis depend on agriculture regarding their livelihoods. With almost 80 percent of the country's area consisting of arid or semi-arid land and much of Pakistan's agricultural land is vulnerable to desertification, the process by which arable land becomes desert are drought, deforestation, inappropriate agricultural practices, the effects of climate change, or a combination of all of these.
As Pakistan's population grows and the effects of climate change take hold, desertification has become a major source of concern for the country's fragile ecosystem.
Desertification is a global phenomenon, affecting the livelihoods of 900 million people across the five continents and representing a third of worldwide threats to biodiversity. It requires global attention and local action, the speakers said.
Addressing the seminar, Deputy Inspector General of Forest, Ministry of Climate Change, Dr Raja Omer informed the audience that the ministry is leading the efforts to combat desertification in the country by executing the Sustainable Land Management Program in 14 dry land districts of all four provinces. He appreciated the provincial governments and their all aligned departments for taking lead in their respective provinces to fight land degradation and desertification. He said that National Programme Director of SLMP and Inspector General of Forests, Syed Mahmood Nasir has stepped up coordination efforts with provinces for more effective implementation of the programme.
Vice Chancellor PMAS AAUR, Prof Dr Sarwat N Mirza highlighted and acknowledged the efforts by the Ministry of Climate Change, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for supporting Sustainable Land Management Program (SLMP) for on-the-ground efforts to combat desertification in the country. Mirza highlighted the role university is playing a role for climate change adaptation in the country. He emphasized that such collaborative activities must be strengthened and taken forward to combat desertification in Pakistan.
Expert Policy Reforms and Capacity Building (SLMP) Nadeem Shaukat briefed the audience about World Desertification Day and SLMP approaches and interventions for better land management in Pakistan. He said, "The implementation of the program will bring considerable financial benefits for the poor in dry land communities through sustainable management of their land resources."
Expert Land Use Planning and Implementation, Fawad Mir thanked the audience and other participants of the seminar for according importance to the critical issue of desertification and hoped that collaboration between academic and research institutions with specialized institutions like AAUR, UNDP, Ministry of Climate Change and SLMP will go a long way in combating desertification in the country. The event culminated with tree plantation by the DIG Forest and by the vice-chancellor of the university.