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Frequently Asked Questions

Q 1. What is G200?

Ans. G200 Ecoregions is a global initiative undertaken by WWF internationally, together with organizations such as UNEP, Birdlife International and National Geographic Society to identify and reflect the ecological significance and representation of Earth’s biodiversity. Indus Ecoregion is amongst the forty priority ecoregions of the world. WWF-Pakistan has helped develop a 50 year Vision for the Indus Ecoregion, in consultation with relevant stakeholders with the aim of establishing a joint action programme.

Q 2. What is an Ecoregion?

Ans. “An ecoregion is defined as a large area of land or water that contains a geographically distinct assemblage of natural communities that

(a) share a large majority of their species and ecological dynamics;
(b) share similar environmental conditions, and;
(c) interact ecologically in ways that are critical for their long-term persistence.”

Q 3. Is there any specific criterion on which an area is designated as an ecoregion?

Ans. An ecoregion is selected on the following criteria
• species richness (how many species occur in the ecoregion)
• endemism (how many plants or animals are unique to the area or to the habitat)
• higher taxonomic uniqueness (e.g., unique genera or families, relict species or communities, primitive lineages)
• extraordinary ecological or evolutionary phenomena (e.g., extraordinary adaptive radiations, intact large vertebrate assemblages, presence of migrations of large vertebrates)
• global rarity of the major habitat type

Q 4. What is an Ecosystem?

Ans. A physical environment where a community of diverse groups of living organisms interact with each other and the surroundings through a system befitting to that environment is called an ecosystem.

Q 5. What are the different types of ecosystems?

Ans. There are hundreds of ecosystem types in the world, depending on factors such as precipitation, climate and the type of fauna inhabiting them. However there are eight main classifications known as ‘biomes’ that exist across the globe. Most ecosystems fall under one of the biomes listed below

1. Coniferous Forest
2. Deciduous Forest
3. Tropical forest
4. Desert
5. Savannah
6. Tundra
7. Freshwater
8. Ocean

Taking the example of the Indus For All Programme Sites, dominant ecosystem types are bracketed alongside the four Programme sites, revealing that a single wetland may contain multiple ecosystems: Keenjhar (freshwater, agricultural, rangeland, forest); Keti Bunder (deltaic – in which mangroves and coastal flats are prominent; agricultural); Chotiari (rangeland, brackish water, freshwater, forest, agricultural); Pai (forest, agricultural, rangeland).

Q 6. How significant are the natural ecosystems for humans?

Ans. The natural ecosystems are equally significant for humans as they are for the different species inhabiting in those systems. We all know that an ecosystem is defined as a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their physical environment.

The ecosystems provide a lot of services to human beings. They provide a number of plant and animal species that are beneficial for us as they not only provide us food resources but are also used in a number of other ways such as medicines, fuelwood, etc. But the basic thing we have to keep in mind is that they should be used sustainably. Unsustainable use of the resources found in the ecosystems would not only destroy the nature’s gifts to us, but we would also be depriving our own generations of the means of survival.

As per their type and the specific characteristics, different ecosystems are important for the humans in different ways. The coastal ecosystems and mangroves not only support various fish, shrimp, crabs, birds and animal species for us, but they also protect the area from destruction against cyclones, flooding and sea intrusion etc. The degradation of these ecosystems would mean not only loss of food and livelihood resources but would also make the entire human population vulnerable to natural calamities. Similar examples can by given about other types of ecosystems on which the humans are equally dependant as it is the case with coastal ecosytems.

Q 7. Why should we be concerned about the ecosystems?

Ans. Ecosystems play an important role in the survival of mankind. In their entirety or as components, the ecosystems support natural based products such as agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Ecosystem also support systems which can keep in wildlife populations balanced, freshwater systems free from contamination and the air we breath free from poisonous chemicals. Without healthy ecosystems it is very unlikely that we could grow food from the land or catch fish from the rivers or oceans. Once an ecosystem breakdowns it is very hard to rehabilitate it and ultimately the loss is to mankind.

Q 8. What is the Indus ecoregion?

Ans. The Indus Ecoregion is a collection of different ecosystems adjoining the Indus River. It lies towards the southern part of Pakistan in Sindh province and constitutes the lower Indus River Basin.

The following major habitats are present in the Indus Ecoregion;

• Main river course
• Freshwater lakes
• Main delta region
• Riverine forests
• Brackish and Salt lakes
• Mangrove forests

Each of these habitats supports various ecosystems with their own associated biodiversity.

Q 9. Has it any specific boundary/limited area?

Ans. The Ecoregion partially or fully covers 18districts of Sindh including Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Dadu, Nawabshah, Sanghar, Khairpur and Umer Kot.

Q 10. What is the Indus for All Programme?

Ans. Indus for All Programme is the first five-year phase of the overall Indus Eco-region Conservation Programme developed by the WWF in close collaboration with the Planning and Development Department Government of Sindh and other stakeholders. The programme aims to conserve the rich biological diversity of the Indus Eco-region (IER) by improved livelihoods of the local communities; enabling policies and effective decision making; improved capacity and effective networking of the relevant stakeholders at micro, meso and macro levels. The programme has obtained generous financial support fromthe Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Pakistan. The implementation phase of the Programme has been initiated since April 2007.

Q 11. What is the Indus Ecoregion Conservation Programme?

Ans. The Indus Ecoregion Conservation Programme is a long term Conservation Programme and Vision (for 50 years) developed to overcome the threats to biodiversity of this Ecoregion. Objectives of the programme are:

• Maintenance of viable population of selected species.
• Representation of all distinct natural habitats within protected networks with a size large enough to be resilient to large-scale disturbances and long-term challenges.
• Maintenance of ecological and evolutionary processes that sustains biodiversity and its productivity.
• Provide for sustainable natural resource use that contributes to conservation and healthy livelihood.

Q 12. How does the Programme envisage to achieve its objectives?

Ans. The programme aims to conserve the rich biological diversity of the Indus Ecoregion by improved livelihoods of the local communities; enabling policies and effective decision making at the government level through engaging the concerned departments; improved capacity; and effective networking of the relevant stakeholders at micro (local and community level), meso (district levels) and macro (provincial and federal levels).

Q 13. In what way is the Programme going to simultaneously improve livelihood and the natural resources conditions?

Ans. The Programme will use existing linkages between poverty and environment in the four sites to improve the Programme’s own interventions as well as garner support for livelihoods and conservation interventions by specialized partner agencies and other Programme stakeholders. Linkages between poverty and environment work in the following sense: it has been empirically observed that as real incomes decline there is an intensification of activities that are damaging to the environment. In this manner, as the environment is degraded in one area, such activities invariably expand to other ecologically fragile areas. Once specific linkages are observed within clusters of villages and ecosystem types, the Programme will act at several levels. First, the Programme’s own interventions will be better targeted, e.g., provision of fuel efficient stoves where they are most urgently needed. Second, designs for interventions will be refined, as will Programme activities within the relevant intervention. Third, the Programme will use information about linkages, including simplified information in the shape of Poverty-Environment indicators, to clarify resources and roles (including those of partners) to achieve Programmatic objectives.

Q 14. Does the Programme involve different stakeholders in the initiatives?

Ans. As already stated, the Programme is being implemented with the approach to establish effective networking of all the stakeholders at different levels. In this connection, while the communities are taken on board at appropriate phases of the initiatives, the local, provincial departments or their representatives are also engaged in key initiatives.

At the top level, the Programme is being monitored and supervised by the Indus Ecoregion Steering Committee (IESC) headed by Planning and Development Department, Government of Sindh and having the representation of all the key stakeholders belonging to government and civil society organizations. To assist the IESC, a Sub-committee of the Indus Ecoregion Steering Committee for the assistance of the Steering Committee is also functional.

As for the district level, three District Coordination and Advisory Committees (DCCs) have been established in Thatta, Nawabshah, and Sanghar districts to involve the district/local governments in the site level interventions.

The purpose of the DCCs is to develop a networking mechanism between government, civil society organizations, intellectuals, public representatives, and academia. DCCs are headed by the respective District Coordination Officers with members varying from government officers to representatives from academia.

Q 15. Does the Programme support any institutional capacity building of the stakeholders?

Ans. While implementing the proposed activities at the site level, the Programme envisages to build the capacity of key stakeholders to effectively manage and conserve the natural resources in the ecoregion.

Thus, in order to assess the overall organizational capacity and ascertain the specific training needs of the individuals working in the key stakeholder organizations at macro, meso and micro levels, the Programme has been conducting Training Needs Assessment (TNA) exercises. In this connection, a proper mechanism and templates to assess the capacity-building needs of the organizations has already been developed and as result, few training activities for some identified partners have already been carried out while a lot more is in the pipeline.

Q 16. How you would describe the biodiversity found in the Indus Ecoregion?

Ans. Most of the Indus Ecoregion is arid with the exception of the coast which is tropical. Though arid ecosystems are usually inhabitable, the Indus Ecoregions is very rich in biodiversity, largely because of the River Indus which supports an array of habitats – the riverine forest being on of the more important ones. Mammals such as wild boar, hog deer and porcupine inhabit the riverine belt in the Ecoregion whereas hares and chinkara can be found in the deserts. One of the most famous mammals belongs to the River Indus – the Indus Blind Dolphin, which is endemic to Pakistan and is successfully recovering from a population crash. The ecoregion is rich in fish with many species being endemic to the region and also includes the Palla or Hilsa, a prized fish renowned for its taste so much so that it is the national fish of Bangladesh. Nearly one third of all birds recorded in Pakistan are found in the Indus Ecoregion including some of the most endangered species such as Marbled Teal and Sindh Warbler. Thousands of migratory birds visit the Ecoregion each year, many of them wintering before returning to their breeding grounds. Other important wildlife species such as Marsh Crocodile are also present in the ecoregion along with other interesting reptiles and amphibians.

The area is rich in floral biodiversity. According to the detailed vegetation survey conducted by the Indus for All Programme during 2006-2007, the area harbours about 359 plant species belonging to 71 families. Out of those, 13 species are either newly recorded or rediscoveries after a long time. Three new-for-science species have been found in the two of the four implementation sites of the Indus for All Programme. The studies also reveal that historically there had been ten plant species reported as endemic to Sindh, out of which two species have unfortunately become extinct.

Q 17. Who should I contact for any queries about the Indus Ecoregion or the Indus Ecoregion Conservation Programme?

Ans. You should contact at: mzkhan@wwf.org.pk

Q. 18. What is the Friends of Indus Forum?

Ans. Friends of Indus Forum is a policy-advise and advocacy platform of conservation activists, intellectuals and passionate persons to nature who want to protect collective natural heritage, biodiversity and the resources associated to River Indus. The Forum aims to address the multiple factors that have generated diverse threats to the natural ecosystem in which the survival of the species is increasingly becoming difficult and people who depend on biodiversity and natural resources are pushed to poverty and despair.

The vicious cycle of the destruction of natural resources and the resulting poverty in the ecoregion has exacerbated in the recent years. This trend has further necessitated the need to work first to put a check on poverty and then reverse current status of natural resources through preserving the ecological biodiversity and richness of the ecoregion. The task is gigantic, challenges are enormous, actors are diverse and threats coming from nature itself, human beings and those stretch from local to national and international. But journey needs to be started before it is too late. In this backdrop, the Friends of Indus Forum has been established with the following principles.


• Volunteerism: This will be an entirely voluntary forum, based on the interest and passion of the individuals.
• Passion: Conservation objectives and outcomes are time consuming and require sufficient degree of a combination of passion and patience.
• Community’s Right: Communities dependant on resources have innate right to use and protect them. External forces must respect their right.
• Equality & respect: All the members and participants in this forum would enjoy equal rights, responsibilities and be treated with respect without class, caste, religion, gender and ethnicity.
• Balancing act: All the living organisms are essential component of natural creation and must be preserved for balancing the ecosystem and healthy environment

Conservation Charter
1. Endeavour to reduce the threat to natural resources, biodiversity and essential habitats.
2. Raise voices for the revival of lost habitats, species and resource-base in collaboration with all the concerned citizens
3. Provide policy/advice, to the government of Sindh and organizations working for conservation, based on customary laws, traditional knowledge and experiences
4. Mobilize larger community support, awareness and lobbying for nature conservation.
5. Document, publicize and demonstrate successes in biodiversity conservation
6. Serve as an advisory body for the provincial and federal governments and any other interested group for the revival of environment in Sindh.
7. Promote traditional conservation systems and methods.

Q 19. Is there any online or web-based platform of the Friends of Indus Forum?

Ans. Yes, there is such a platform on this website. With a view to promote healthy online interaction and healthy debates about the Indus ecoregion, the Friends of Indus Forum web-portal has also been developed. The online forum provides a good platform to the interested people, who are eligible to become members of the forum, get themselves registered as the “Friends of Indus” and interact with other like-minded people on the issues pertaining to the ecoregion.


Q 20. Is there any particular requirement to be a member of the Forum?

Ans. Yes, there is actually some kind of a criterion for registration to the forum. The Forum is open for membership to the people who are above 18 years of age and have interest in the conservation of natural resources in general and the Indus Ecoregion in particular. If you fulfill the criterion, you are welcome to register in the forum.

Q 21. How one can register as a member of the Forum?

Ans. There are two ways of getting oneself registered in the forum. One of way of registering is online, whereas the other is through correspondence to the postal address of the Forum. For online registration, just go to the relevant link of the forum and follow the instructions, or contact:

Muhammad Zafar Khan
Manager Communications and Environemntal Education
Indus for All Programme, WWF – Pakistan
Tel: +92 21 4544791
Fax: +92 21 4544790
E-mail: mzkhan@wwf.org.pk

For the membership through correspondence or any further queries about the Friends of Indus Forum, please contact:

Nasir Ali Panhwar
C/o WWF-Pakistan
606-607 Fortune Centre,
Block-6 P.E.C.H.S.,
Main Sharae Faisal,
Karachi, Pakistan.
Phone: +92 21 4544791
+92 21 4544792
Fax: +92 21 4544790.

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