LAHORE - WWF-Pakistan celebrated International Day for Biological Diversity at Virtual University (VU) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

An awareness raising seminar was organised to sensitise students on pressing biodiversity issues of Pakistan and the world.

Warda Javed, Senior Officer, Small Grants Programme, WWF-Pakistan gave an overview of WWF-Pakistan and the role of the organization in conserving biodiversity while Hassan Ali, Assistant Manager, Conservation, WWF-Pakistan shared an update about the biodiversity of Pakistan.

The event was followed by a screening of a documentary on the common leopard. The programme ended with a detailed question and answer session. The faculty and the students appreciated the conservation efforts of WWF-Pakistan and pledged to become involved in conserving and protecting the biodiversity of Pakistan.

Dr Kauser Abdulla Malik, chief guest on the occasion also gave a talk on the importance of biodiversity and Naveed A Malik, Rector, Virtual University thanked WWF-Pakistan. He also appreciated the efforts of organizations working to conserve the biodiversity of the planet.

According to Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan, ‘The International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated each year to raise awareness of biodiversity issues. This year’s theme biodiversity for sustainable development stresses the need to promote sustainability at large. Recently a WWF report titled The Living Planet Report 2014 also highlighted that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined by 52 per cent in a 40 year period.

The report also confirms that humanity's demand on the planet is more than 50 per cent, more than what nature can renew, meaning it will take 1.5 Earths to produce the resources necessary to support our current ecological footprint. We need to change our consumption patterns so that biodiversity is not threatened.’

Humanity’s fate is tightly linked with biological diversity and biodiversity is essential for sustainable development and human well-being. This year’s theme reflects the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of sustainable development goals. International Day for Biological Diversity gives an important message to every country to adopt environment friendly solutions keeping in view existing threats to ecosystems. These solutions are extremely important as critical wildlife populations have declined due to increases in anthropogenic activities.

According to Uzma Noureen, Coordinator, Indus River Dolphin Conservation Project, WWF-Pakistan, ‘Despite the global trends, an increase in the Indus river dolphin population is noted due our partnerships with the Sindh Wildlife Department and the capacity building of local communities. Due to our conservation initiatives the population of Indus river dolphins has increased from 1,200 in year 2001 to 1,452 in year 2011.’

Pakistan is home to the most spectacular biodiversity, such as snow leopards, common leopards, Indus river dolphins, marine cetaceans, turtles and hundreds of migratory birds and important plant species including hundreds of medicinal plants. Some of our rich biodiversity is threatened by illegal wildlife trade. Smuggling of freshwater turtles, pangolins, and black scorpions and increasing human-wildlife conflict are a growing concern. Increasing deforestation has contributed to increased threats to species such as the common leopard by destroying the natural prey base for the species and bringing settlements closer to leopards.