ISLAMABAD- The 12th National Children's Mountain Conservation Meet begins near Shimla Hills in Abbottabad, on Tuesday with oath taking by 128 children of age group 11-14 years.

The 12th batch of young eco-guards pledged to take on to nature conservation and play their role in improving the environmental conditions around them, both at school and home. These children have gathered here in Abbottabad from all parts of the country to go to the wild lands in the Ayubia National Park to understand mountain environment and its importance downstream, and to conduct nature conservation activities.

The 10-day long nature conservation meet is an annual feature of the Adventure Foundation Pakistan that aims to inculcate love for nature among the children.

Speaking on the flag handing over ceremony, the Adventure Foundation Pakistan founding president Brig (r) Jan Nadir said the total number of young eco-guards crossed 1,300 with the oath-taking of this batch. Even the hardships cannot stop the children coming to the highlands from the urban as well as far-flung areas of Pakistan.

"This year we felt pride in welcoming five children including females from Nepal," he added, hoping to have more participation from neighboring countries in the years to come.

The incumbent AFP President Bring (Retd) Muhammad Akram asked the children to take full advantage of the opportunity to learn about the nature and its role in our lives. He said, "Each one of you is the most privileged child who is selected out of millions without any discrimination of caste and creed and geographical bias." 

Dr Kishwar Nazir gave a lecture on the basics of the biological diversity in the mountain regions and its link to natural habitat that she said should remain intact for the eco-system services to the people living in the natural environment and downstream.

Talking to this scribe, one of the team leaders Shaaref Munir said, "The Meet is the best outdoor classroom that inspires the soul of nature lover to become a shield for it. Three years back, I came as a participant and took oath as 'eco-guard' and now I am leading a group and transferring my knowledge and skills to other young fellows. It is my pride to protect environment all around me, and aspire to inspire others." From Wednesday onward, the participants of the meet will visit different parts of the Ayubia National Park and conduct nature conservation activities under the supervision of the environmentalists and nature conservationists.  All the participating children will take part in the National Children Mountain Forum on July 3, 2013 at Islamabad. At the forum, the children will make presentations about the theme of the meet and share their experiences of camp activities with the audience. They will also make recommendations to the concerned Ministry and departments to address environmental issues.

Muhammad Ikram, National Coordinator of the NCMC Meet, while giving a presentation to the young eco-guards said that the project was launched on the occasion of International Year of Mountains in 2002 with a view to create awareness among children about the mountain ecosystems and to involve them in meaningful activities using mountains' environment as an open classroom.

He said following the procedure adopted in the previous years, as many as 123 children were selected from different parts of the fur provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jummu and Kashmir through a process of merit.