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Daily Times

Published Date: Jun 8, 2012

DRASTIC CLIMATIC CHANGES HURTING GB, SEMINAR TOLD

Speakers at a consultation have demanded the conservation of ecosystem of Gilgit-Biltistan’s Central Karakoram National Park (CKNP). They also demanded a steering committee of relevant stakeholders under the preview of Ministry of Climate Change to protect biodiversity in the region.

The “Consultation on Climate Change and Ecosystem Assessment of the CKNP Region”, here on Thursday, was organised to share findings of an assessment study carried out by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Italy’s Ev-K2-CNR to assess the impacts of climate change on ecosystem and socio-economic conditions in the CKNP region.

The study explored the options available to inhabitants to adapt to the climate change, and also to develop pilot projects in the near future. It highlights drastic changes in climatic conditions in the region and reveals that the CKNP region has become warmer with increased rainfalls, changed snow patterns and less intense winter season. Also, the land use patterns have changed with the focus shift from agriculture to services and increased urbanisation. The study also says that fauna and flora of CKNP is under threat with loss of plant species, less fruit production, and threat to endangered species mostly because of human interferences and deforestation.

Ex-UN assistant secretary general and retired ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel said that impacts of climate change are likely to exacerbate in the region. “We must act fast to cope with challenges and conserve both natural and built-up environment, improve quality of life, preserve culture and biodiversity of CKNP whose plant and animal habitat is of global importance.”

UNEP Programme Officer Haruko Okusu said that CKNP region has rich natural biodiversity and cultural heritage. She said, “The CKNP region is highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change and efforts must be made to improve the quality of life of local communities and the conservation of environment, architectural and cultural heritage of the region.”

SDPI Research Fellow Dr Vaqar Ahmed criticised the authorities concerned for ignoring the devastating impacts of climate change on the ecosystem of the northern areas. He said, “There is a need for an integrated study for the CKNP region. It should explore issues and remedies through a social, economic and environmental appraisal.” Environmental appraisal of projects in the region, he said, must be ensured because currently no elaborate environmental appraisal is being carried out regarding projects like Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Bungi Dam, or the public sector development programmes in the region. He informed the gathering that China was planning to invest over $100 billion in neighboring Xinjiang province during the next five years.

Global Change Impact Study Centre’s (GCISC’s) Munir Ahmad underlined the need for considering green economy for environmental protection, social equity and sustainable development. He said, “Indigenous agricultural practices must be combined with scientific innovation for a sustainable growth.”