Despite challenges, mangrove cover is increasing in the Indus Delta

Posted on 26 July 2021

Karachi, 26 July: ‘As a result of joint efforts of government departments, non-profit organizations and corporations, mangrove forest cover in the Indus Delta has increased from 86,000 hectares in 2005 to over 130,000 hectares in 2021. These forests are the lifeline of the Indus Delta and play a critical role in climate change adaptation and protecting the local population against sea storms and cyclones. They also act as highly effective carbon storage sites’. This was stated by WWF-Pakistan in a press release issued on World Mangroves Day 2021. Despite challenges of reduced flow of water, climate change, and water pollution, the Sindh Forest Department, with the support of WWF-Pakistan, IUCN Pakistan, and local communities, has contributed significantly to improve the mangrove cover in the deltaic region.
According to WWF-Pakistan, mangrove forests are one of the most productive ecosystems and around 500,000 people directly rely on the mangroves services in the Indus Delta. Earlier, Pakistan was home to eight species of mangroves which are currently reduced to four due to multiple threats, mainly inadequate freshwater flow downstream Kotri Barrage. However, with improvement in the forest cover, local mangrove species such as Aegicera corniculatum and Ceriops tagal are being revived in the Indus delta. 
Commenting on the occasion, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan appreciated the efforts of the Sindh Forest Department and other organizations which have helped to improve the mangrove cover. He said that these forests support a healthy and productive ecosystem that benefits not only people but biodiversity as well. He also said that mangroves are the first line of defense against cyclones, strong surges, tsunamis, and other natural calamities impacting the coast and the deltaic region. He urged that the required flow of freshwater should be released into the Indus Delta so that mangroves could be fully restored, and the lost glory of the Indus Delta can be revived. 
With mangrove rehabilitation, fish stocks are reviving, and the livelihood of local people is improving. To enhance the resilience of local communities on climate change and promote sustainable management of mangroves in Indus Delta, WWF-Pakistan, with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and WWF-Germany, have initiated a 3-year project. Through this project, more than 3,000 hectares of mangroves have been restored and over the last decade or so, nearly 14,000 hectares have been rehabilitated through various projects. Moreover, local women have been engaged in plantations and have set up mangrove nurseries that provide alternative income generation opportunities to them. 
Pressure on the mangroves due to exploitative activities by humans can have negative impacts on mangrove forests, particularly the disappearance of mangrove species and the degradation of their habitat. WWF-Pakistan appealed to the public to help revive the Indus Delta’s natural landscape and protect these mangroves biomes.
Mangrove plantation by WWF-Pakistan and Sindh Forest Department in the Indus delta.
© WWF-Pakistan