Country’s first MPA needs prescribed action for its biodiversity conservation

Astola Island, the first and the newly designated Marine Protected Area (MPA) of the country is in urgent need of prescribed actions for conservation of its key biodiversity resources.
Experts addressing a consultative session on Astola management plan held here under the aegis of IUCN Pakistan under its Mangroves for the Future (MFF) Programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change emphasized the need for steps towards its conservation and collaborative management.
The purpose of the session was to discuss the development of Management Plan for the Astola Island, besides mapping stakeholders’ interest, potential threats and presenting the ecological findings of a baseline study of Astola undertaken by IUCN.
The management plan preparation process was registered to entail a participatory process including a defined vision, key management objectives for the MPA, filling gaps in knowledge on the biological and social resources of the area, identification of threats to the site and prescribing a co-management regime with differential responsibilities for various stakeholders.
Khizar Hayat Khan, Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change on the occasion appreciated the role of IUCN Pakistan and especially the MFF Programme in supporting and facilitating the declaration of Astola Island as a Marine Protected Area and its continuous support towards development of a Management Plan for the island.
He also lauded the achievements and efforts of the National Coordinating Body (NCB) in this regard. The NCB has also supported various coastal studies, including an economic valuation of the coastal ecosystem.
“This was long overdue following the declaration of Astola as Pakistan’s first Marine Protected Area,” said Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan.
He mentioned that IUCN Pakistan initiated a comprehensive ecological and resource use baseline of Astola Island MPA with the support from experts from various relevant government and academic organisations.
This baseline survey, he said is intended to serve as the foundation for the development of a management plan for Astola Island MPA—APP

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