Pakistan's freshwater and marine ecosystems are of great significance as they serve as critical breeding, rearing, staging and wintering grounds for a number of globally important species. During the migration season, over one million waterfowl from 108 species use the extensive deltas, shallows and other wetlands. As Pakistan is a predominantly arid and semi-arid country, these ecosystems have a significant economic value, as people, livestock and wildlife are dependent on them for their livelihood and survival.
With global warming on the rise, these essential wetlands are drying up. Every year less freshwater reaches the Indus delta; freshwater that is essential for the survival of the mangrove ecosystem, which in turn is vital to the continued existence of countless human communities, their livestock and the wild animals, including birds, who live around the mangroves.
WWF - Pakistan works to ensure the active participation of all stakeholders in making decisions on the protection and management of marine and wetland ecosystems. Partners in conservation include local communities, line departments and other NGOs.
Astola Island is the biggest offshore island in the Arabian Sea. Possessing a unique habitat, it has been identified by WWF - P as part of a Global 2000 eco-region. Astola Island requires urgent conservation efforts as the natural ecology is being damaged due to the introduction of feral cats by local fishermen. The main interventions will be raising community awareness, carrying out a natural resource inventory, assessing the economic value of resources and exploring avenues of sustainable use which can benefit the local community.
A few fishermen and their pet cats on a trip to an island. Hardly a life-threatening situation? Don't be deceived. They unwittingly managed to almost destroy an entire ecosystem. On finding a small island ideal for fishing, fishermen from Balochistan decided to bring their cats along to their place of discovery in order to rid it of its resident vermin. What they didn't realise was that by doing this, they would trigger a change of events that would lead to devastating changes in the island's habitat.
Located 25 km southeast off the Balochistan coast, Astola is the largest offshore island in the Arabian Sea with an extremely high rate of endemism. A simple unit isolated from the mainland, the island is characterised by a mixture of rocky and sandy habitats. For a while a mystery destination, Astola housed a unique and pristine ecosystem, until the all too familiar damaging footprint along with this pet's paws fell upon it. WWF-P plans to initiate an awareness raising programme in Astola Island as a first step towards a community-based conservation programme to reverse the degradation of the Island's unique biodiversity.
Jiwani lies to the extreme west on the Makran coast, close to the Pakistan - Iran border. Being free from pollution, Jiwani is reminiscent of a South Sea island, with vast streches of sandy beaches giving onto the clean, clear green waters of the Arabian Sea.
For the same reason, Jiwani is rich in biodiversity.
Recently, WWF-Pakistan established the Jiwani Conservation and Information Centre (JCIC). The aim is to contribute towards the conservation of biodiversity in the area, through information dissemination.
Located at a site overlooking the Arabian Sea, the JCIC contains facilities for seminars, meetings etc. It has exhibits/displays related to the surrounding biodoversity.