Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ministry prepares draft to protect environment

Noor Aftab

The Ministry of Environment as part of its endeavours to outline future plans for protection of fast-damaging natural environment has prepared a National Rangeland Policy after in-depth review of current environmental scenario in the country, a high-level official of the ministry told this scribe here on Friday.

The draft of the policy available with this correspondent showed that the national policy revolves around enhancement of productivity, promotion of rangeland enterprises, conservation of rangeland biodiversity, mitigation of negative impacts of global warming and climate change, improvement of skills and capacity building of the key stakeholders and conducting applied and action research on key problems of the rangelands.

The official said that working group on range management elaborated the key policy guidelines for implementation and formulation of the national rangeland policy that has been prepared keeping in view various UN Conventions including UN Convention on Biodiversity, UN Convention on Combating Desertification and UN-FCC.

Currently, the rangelands are under the administrative control and management of the respective provincial forest department. Thus the policy directions have been mainly derived from the National and Provincial Forest Policies.

The main thrusts of the policy include rangeland resource assessment and monitoring, integrated rangeland resource planning, increase in forage availability on the non-rangelands, promotion of rangeland enterprises, regulation of sustainable water flow, reduction of sedimentation in downstream, rehabilitation of ecosystem for biodiversity conservation, generation of financial resources and coordination and linkage development.

The background data given in the draft stated that rangelands provide feed to livestock, however due to the increase in population pressure there is corresponding increase in the demand for food and energy, the need for forage and other resources will also increase. In addition as major source of forage for the livestock, ranges provide water, recreation, wildlife, and fish habitat.

The statistics provided by the environment ministry to this correspondent show that the total number of livestock in the country is in the tune of 154 million benefiting around 35 million people earning around 40 per cent of their income from rearing of livestock. More than 60 per cent livestock fulfil their requirements through rangelands that also carry significance in various parameters encompassing ecological, social and economical aspects.

The environment ministry and provincial forest departments would provide required funds for implementation of the policy and coordinate to develop monitoring framework with certain indicators and bench marks in order to follow up on the operationalisation of the policy. The federal and provincial committees will be responsible for its monitoring, but the role of the federal committee will also include coordination, capacity building, undertaking research and international organisations.

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