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Climate change affecting desert ecosystem, livestock: experts

Climate change and conservation experts said on Sunday that climate change has adversely affected the desert ecosystem in Pakistan, and harsh weather conditions are making lives of the desert people and livestock more difficult.

Talking to APP, the experts said that climate change was affecting Thar and the Cholistan deserts the most due to changes in its patterns, resulting in a large number of deaths of livestock and a wave of migration.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Country Representative, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, said that a wide variety of ecosystems and habitats ranging from the Arabian Sea in the south to the second highest peak in the world K-2, in the north, all hosting a broad diversity of species.

“Four of these ecosystems are considered some of the most biologically outstanding eco-regions in the world,” he added.

“These ecoregions are on the verge of collapse due to climate change,” he added.

He said that livestock was a vital part of agriculture, which constitutes 12 per cent of the GDP of the country and rural population, ranging between 30 to 35 per cent, was attached with this sector.

“The farming community is persuaded to use modern methods of investment in the areas which are prone to climate change,” he added.

Responding to a question, Cheema said that good fodder and availability of food must be ensured on a top priority basis for livestock.

He said that information should be provided to people about fodder and food, adding that the farmers must be persuaded to grow grass for livestock in hilly areas.

Cheema said that Pakistan’s share in global livestock trade market worth $1,000 billion, was negligible and an eye-opener for scientists, livestock experts, and official policymakers, who should take the matter seriously.

Conservation World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan Manager Humaira

Aysha said that livestock in Pakistan was suffering from a deficiency of energy protein, especially minerals.

She said that emphasis should be placed more on south Punjab region, Thar, Cholistan, and Barani areas. She said that feedback of diseases relating to metabolic disorders and mineral deficiencies should be reported from various districts, where such researches had not been performed yet.

In the Cholistan and other fodder-deficient areas, urea, molasses and mineral blocks should be prepared to overcome the deficiency of nutrients, Humaira added.

She said that in Tharparkar district of Sindh, some 200 sheep had died due to a shortage of fodder.

UVAS Vice Chancellor Dr Talat Pasha said that Thar desert, spread over an area of 19,623 square kilometers, was the rich source of livestock, with 1.6 million population and the number of livestock estimated to be 6 million, was facing serious climate change threats.

“Climate change is also responsible for increased desertification and a shortage of water, which is happening due to cutting of trees, unplanned development projects and utilisation of land for agricultural purposes,” he said.

Dr Pasha stressed the need for building small reservoirs to store rainwater, installation of small reverse-osmosis plants, solar powered pumps, and planting of drought-resistant trees in order to cope with the harsh climate challenges.

Tanveer Arif, an official of the Society of Conservation and

Protection of Environment (SCOPE) Pakistan, was of the view that droughts in Thar and Cholistan were not merely a coincidence, but a result of climate change, which would make droughts a regular feature in the area in the coming years.

He said that creating awareness and providing training to cattle-farmers to deal with weather changes could be helpful in coping with the situation.

Meanwhile, a senior official in Ministry of Climate Change told APP that the ministry has directed the provinces to take steps to counter the negative fallout of climate change with particular reference to agriculture and livestock.

APP. Climate change affecting desert ecosystem, livestock: experts. Pakistan Today, July 31, 2017.

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