KARACHI - The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Barclays Bank PLC, Pakistan, signed an agreement on Saturday at the office of Barclays Bank. The agreement was signed by Shah Murad Aliani, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan, and Arslan Nayeem, Head of Commercial Bank, Barclays Bank PLC. In a joint press statement issued the other day, it was said the IUCN Pakistan will raise a mangroves plantation of over 25 hectares along the Karachi coast. The area selected for plantation is densely populated and highly degraded. Over a period of 60 years the selected coastal strip has degraded due to over exploitation, pollution and neglect. Besides creating a green belt, the plantation will also constitute a barrier to protect communities from coastal calamities as well as enhance fisheries potential in the immediate vicinity, said Shah Murad Aliani. IUCN began its efforts to restore degraded mangroves forests in Pakistan in the early nineties and these efforts are still ongoing. For several years restoration was carried out in Sindh and Balochistan and over 30,000 hectares have been restored and restocked. Under this afforestation programme many exotic and indigenous species have been re-planted on an experimental basis throughout the coast. Arslan Nayeem mentioned that Barclays Bank has been continuously supporting a number of CSR programmes in partnership with various non-governmental organizations, humanitarian agencies and local people. This first initiative with IUCN Pakistan focuses on mangrove plantation for ecosystem restoration and job opportunities for the locals, including the flood affected people from Keti Bunder and Karo Chann areas. This agreement manifests Barclays interest in environmental sustainability and the agreement has set a standard for the private sector to follow to recognize the value of ecosystems in coastal infrastructure, said Arslan Nayeem. The role of IUCNs Business and Biodiversity programme is to influence the private sector in realizing their responsibility towards environment, ecosystem values and sustainable development.