The theme for celebrating 2nd February 2012 was “Wetland Tourism” to highlight the importance of wetlands as tourism spots. The wetlands and their wildlife are considered as the key parts of the global tourism.

In 2010, the number of international tourists reached 940 million and it is forecasted to grow to around 1.6 billion by 2020. The global economic activity generated by travel &tourism is around 5% of GDP and an estimated 6-7% of the world’s jobs. The half of international tourists traveled to wetlands of all types but particularly to coastal areas.

The global economic activity generated by travel &tourism is around 5% of GDP and an estimated 6-7% of the world’s jobs. The half of international tourists traveled to wetlands of all types but particularly to coastal areas.

With their natural beauty and biodiversity, the wetlands make ideal locations for tourism. The income can be significant and support livelihoods locally and nationally. Wetlands provide other services too, such as water, food, water purification, erosion control etc. The income generated by tourism for national and local economies in and around wetlands can be substantial.

Wetlands provide other services too, such as water, food, water purification, erosion control etc. The income generated by tourism for national and local economies in and around wetlands can be substantial.

Pakistan is also blessed with a variety of wetland ecosystems. There are nineteen Ramsar sites, covering an area of 1,343,627 hectares (3,320,170 acres) in Pakistan.  Among these,2 wetlands fall in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 3 Punjab, 4 Baluchistan and 9 in Sind Province and 1 is shared by Sindh and Baluchistan province.

The Indus Delta is an important coastal wetland of Pakistan and home to the largest arid mangrove forests in the world. Indus River Delta is an important region for migratory water birds and rich in freshwater and marine fauna and endangered species. Indus Delta was designated as a Ramsar site on November 5, 2002.

Mangrove forests are one of the most abundant ecological communities of the delta, but they have declined over the years. In past, they inhabited an area of 600,000 ha along Sindh’s coastline and were believed to be seventh largest mangrove forests in the world.

Mangrove Species Status
Avicennia marina Present
Rhizophora mucronata Present
Ceriop tagal Present
Ageceras carniculatum Present
Ceriops roxburgiana Extinct
Bruguiera congugata Extinct
Rhizophora apiculata Extinct
Sonneratia caseolaris Extinct

These forests used to harbor eight species of mangroves in past, only four remain now: Aegiceras corniculatumAvicennia marinaCeriops tagal, and Rhizophora mucronata. The Fan shaped Indus Delta is the fifth largest delta in the world. Freshwater reduction, deforestation, pollution, and overfishing are some of the major threats faced by the surviving Indus delta.

Four mangrove species became extinct and disappeared by 1965. It is believed that after diversion Indus River Waters upstream water quality changed in Indus Delta region. These four freshwater species disappeared with modern development.  Rhizophora mucronata become extinct from Indus Delta and was successfully reintroduced during 1985-90.

 

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Rhizophora mucronata

 

 

Reduction in freshwater, deforestation, pollution, illegal nets, governance, scientific management, poverty, erosion, sea intrusion, climate forced migration, health & hygiene  literacy, less priority, the absence of planning  & investment, invasion of the migrants and overfishing are some of the major threats faced by Indus delta.

Under project titled “Sindh Coastal Community Development Project”  Sindh Forest Department restored mangroves on an area of 8,000 ha and IUCN Pakistan  rehabilitated more than 300 Ha of degraded mangroves through community participation.

Shah Bundar, Thatta is the ecologically, environmentally, naturally rich important tourist spot and tourism potential of the deltaic area has increased by the manifold with the current interventions. Stakeholders are actively engaged as to raise the awareness among the communities, civil society, NGOs, Government agencies, and masses . Much care and efforts are needed to appreciate the nature’s value, protect and sustainably use the wetlands ecosystems for tourism while protecting the wetland fauna and flora.

2nd February each year is celebrated as World Wetlands Day globally. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. This is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.  Each year government agencies, non-governmental organizations, conservation organizations, and groups of citizens and communities celebrate the day to raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands.

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