Knowledge-based proactive governance must for ecosystems restoration

Zubair Qureshi

Participants of a regional webinar on Sunday urged reforms in governance and integrated regional approaches towards identifying the challenges and threats confronting the ecosystems of the region from mountains to the coastal areas and deserts.

The webinar titled “Ecosystem Restoration – learning from the case studies” was organized by The Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) and DTN.

The participants said the governments around the world had to increase public funding in the ecosystems conservation and repair of the degradation done.

We need to tag a price to the ecosystem services so that the people who were the actual beneficiaries should know how valuable the ecosystems are for human life on earth.

The panel of experts included Senior Advisor (Science) EVK2CNR Ashiq Ahmad Khan, ICIMOD (Nepal) Regional Programme Manager Dr Ghulam Rasul, World Resources Institute (India) Chief Economist Dr. Madhu Verma, biodiversity expert from Maldives Selvam Rabindranath, Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed, and Research Fellow Desert Resource Centre (India) Tatsama Motilal.

Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed while introducing the subject said: Environmental degradation is going on unchecked in Pakistan that has turned to be a graveyard of policies sans implementation. It is indeed a great movement that Pakistan hosted the international event of the World Environment Day while climate impact is rising and environmental degradation.

Deforestation, change of land-use and implementation of policies and governance reforms. Countries need to look into the causes and community-based governance models for ecosystems.

Dr Ghulam Rasul said climate change is fast impacting the mountain resources and habitats.

Communities in mountain regions face unique challenges, including a fragile ecology, natural disasters, and long distances to markets, educational facilities, and healthcare as well as high unemployment. Tourism brings benefits and potentially novel risks.

Many communities have aging populations with out-migration of youth. Communities adapt to these challenges with diverse strategies, including engagement with traditional ecological knowledge, history, and narratives valuing landscape and social relationships.

Ashiq Ahmad Khan said the main issue is governance. We need dedicated professionals and bureaucrats to work on it. We need to enhance understanding of mountain ecosystems and the conservation of its biological and cultural diversity, and sustainable development.

Ensure that mountain ecosystems are understood in relation to the communities who rely on them. For the ecosystems’ restoration, we need to generate knowledge and guidance that is respectful of existing traditional ecological knowledge systems and which emphasizes the centrality of local communities to successful ecosystem management.

Dr Madhu Verma, Chief Economist at the World Resources Institute, said India, who is basically an Ecological Economist, shared her experiences of working on forest conservation in India in Uttarakhand Forest, Sixteen Tiger Reserves and 13th, 14th and 15th Finance Commissions of India.

Through her estimates of forest resources valuation and incorporation of various indicators of High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) both for degradation and conservation, she was able to inculcate this knowledge across the entire set of stakeholders, specially the policy makers.