Restoring mangroves in Balochistan

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Mangroves forests are a group of trees and shrubs that grow in the coastal intertidal zones around the seas and oceans. There are around 80 different species of mangrove, all of which grow in areas of low-oxygen soil where there is slow-moving water that allow sediments to accumulate providing nutrients to the trees. In Pakistan, mighty belts of mangroves are located mainly along the delta of the Indus River found on the extended coastline of Balochistan and Sindh.

The mangroves located along the coast of Balochistan are limited but significant. A research study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in collaboration with Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) generated the stock map of Mangroves of Balochistan through satellite derived information, according to which the total mangroves forest are 4058.36 hectares along the coast of Balochistan (latest stock taking in Miani Hor, Kalmat Hor and Jiwani in 2003). A detailed distribution pattern of mangroves in Balochistan is elaborated below.

 

SUPARCO (2003) Distribution of Mangrove vegetation along the coast of Balochistan
Site Acres Hectares Percentage
Milani Hor 8479 3431.36 84
Kalmat Hor 479 194.00 5.1
Gwatar Bay 1070 433.00 10.9
Total 10028 4058.36 100

 

Mangroves are essential part of the coastal environment that act as kidneys for the coastal waters. They are important fishing grounds for different types of fish and offer protection against coastal erosion. However, over the years they have been used domestically as a source of wood for construction; source of fodder for livestock; and lastly (and most importantly) a source of fuel which is amongst the leading causes of deterioration in mangrove population. Another important factor contributing to decline of mangroves counts to be oil spills in the seas and oceans.

Recent environmental studies had shown a decrease in the population of mangroves along the Balochistan and Sindh coast hence, restoration research, activities and awareness campaigns about mangroves are now being religiously carried out to conserve and regrow the mangroves along with multiple awareness activities carried out with the collaboration of IUCN Pakistan, World Wide Fund (WWF) Pakistan & National Rural Support Programme (NRSP).

Mangrove restoration activities have continued to increase the population of mangroves across the Indus Delta and Balochistan coast. In 2004, the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) had restored 2345.00 hectares of mangrove in both regions while in 2005 IUCN, Department of Fisheries, Government of Balochistan (BFD) and the Netherlands Embassy (RNE) had planted a total of 1000.00 hectares.

Another significant restoration campaign is the ‘Pakistan Navy – Mangroves Plantation Campaign 2018’ which aims to accomplish plantation of two million mangroves in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan. IUCN Pakistan and Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) also planted mangroves in the month of September in an area compromising of 8 kilometres at Shabbi Creek, Gwadar. However, to restore the functionality and sustainability, more plantations are required and recommended by the IUCN.

According to further quantitative studies by IUCN in Pakistan, the restored mangrove ecosystem often does not equate with natural mangroves. These studies emphasize the need for developing clear restoration goals that incorporate the mangrove ecosystem, its functions, growth and health of trees. After which, monitoring for long term survival are recommended for which three strategies are suggested by the IUCN that include replantation, assisted by natural regeneration and restoration of an alternate site to provide similar habitat for the mangroves.

Mangrove sites in Balochistan

A mangrove nursery at Jiwani Gwadar

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Zara Arshad is a medical undergrad student from Quetta, Balochistan. She has an experience of around 2 years in blog writing. Her areas of interest are health journalism, women empowerment, education and health for all.

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