These articles were posted on several elists during 2005/2006.
Now politics of Water???
Some Pro-Kalabagh Dam/Anti-Federation Super-Geniuses residing in Islamabad termed that quite a good quantity of wtaer is wasted every year through periodical floods which goes unchecked into the sea passing through Indus Delta and this was even declared by Il Prseidente General Musharraf and his Capo Regime Prime Minister Mr Shaukat Aziz recently to support KBD whereas as per leading Water/Ecological Expert Peter Meynell,
"In discussing the impact of the Water Accord of 1991, IUCN's Peter Meynell bluntly stated that the Indus Delta was already on the "brink of ecological disaster" (PASSP Seminar Proceedings, 1992). This bleak assessment led him and other experts to recommend a minimum flow of around 30 MAF downstream of Kotri barrage. As former Senator Abdul Majid Kazi has argued time and again, historical records of WAPDA establish that total availability of Indus flows cannot satisfy committed allocations. In consequence, any additional upstream reservoir such as Kalabagh will either lie empty in 60 out of 72 years, or the Indus delta will be lucky to get even a measly 10 MAF of water in only 12 of 72 years. After the 1991 Water Accord and the 1997 National Finance Award it should be obvious who will be made the sacrificial goat by Islamabad. "
Waters of Strife
Sun, 19 Jul 1998 15:26:57
They damn care about the Fisherfolk living around Thatta, Badin and Karachi and they damn care about the Ecological Disaster and destruction of Wild Life which is already taking place in the coastal area of Sindh. Read a detailed report below:
Sustainable management of mangroves in the Indus Delta, Pakistan Peter John Meynell and M. Tahir Qureshi
The Indus Delta is about 200 km long and 50 km wide and extends over an area of some 600,000 ha on the border between Pakistan and India. It is a typical fan-shaped delta built up by the discharge of large quantities of silt washed down the Indus river from the Karakoram and Himalayan mountain ranges. It consists of about seventeen major creeks and extensive mudflats; recent satellite imagery indicates that about 160,000 hectares of the delta are covered with mangroves. The Indus Delta mangroves are perhaps unique in being the largest area of arid climate mangroves in the world. They are almost wholly dependent upon the freshwater discharges from the River Indus and a small quantity of freshwater from run-off and discharge from domestic and industrial effluent from Karachi. Average annual rainfall is very low at 221 mm and in some years virtually no rain falls during the monsoon season (April-September).
The Indus Delta mangrove ecosystem is dominated by a single species Avicennia marina (over 95% of the trees), although a few stands of Ceriops tagal, Bruguiera conjugata and Aegiceras corniculatum exist. Previously, Rhizophora mucronata used to grow in the delta but it is thought to have died out due to selective over-exploitation and degrading conditions.
Human benefits and stresses on the mangrove ecosystem
Perhaps the greatest direct economic importance of the mangroves comes from the fisheries which they harbour. The creeks and mangroves provide excellent nursery areas for young fish, especially shrimps. Shrimps are a major export commodity, making up 68% of the US$100 million which Pakistan earns in foreign exchange from fisheries exports. A large proportion of the fish caught in Pakistan's coastal waters spend at least part of their life cycle in the mangroves, or depend on food webs originating there. Whilst there is apparently room for expansion of some parts of the fishery, shrimps, the most valuable species, are seriously overfished and have begun to decline following several years in which the estimated maximum sustainable yield has been exceeded.
The mangroves are also used by coastal villagers for fuelwood and fodder for domestic animals. Although Avicennia does not make such good fuelwood as the other mangrove species, e.g. Rhizophora, it is still used extensively by local people. It is rarely sold outside the coastal areas. Nevertheless, within the project area along the northern edge of the Indus Delta there are about 100,000 people who take a total of about 18,000 tonnes of mangrove firewood each year.
However, Avicennia leaves make excellent fodder for animals and are collected regularly by villagers. In addition to cattle, sheep and goats kept in the villages, it has been estimated that at certain times of year about 16,000 camels are herded into the mangroves. This activity places considerable pressure on the stands of mangroves nearest the villages, to such an extent that many mature stands are stunted from overgrazing, browsing and lopping.
One of the most important benefits of the mangrove ecosystem is the protection which they afford the coastline from wind and ocean currents. The Indus Delta is low-lying and bears the full force of the southwest monsoon. The natural protection provided by the mangroves is shown by the siting of Port Qasim, Pakistan's second-largest port, some 30 km within the Korangi-Phitti Creek system. Without the mangroves, it is unlikely that Port Qasim would have been located there in the first place, for the engineering measures necessary to protect the coast and port would have been prohibitive.
Mangroves also assist maintenance of the port by reducing dredging needs. Since the port was built in 1977, no further maintenance dredging has been required within the creeks, although some is carried out each year in the approach channels outside the mangrove areas.
Environmental stresses on the mangrove ecosystem
The severest environmental stress which the mangroves face results from the reduction in freshwater flows down the Indus, and the reduced loads of silt and nutrients. Whilst mangroves, especially Avicennia, are able to survive in saltwater without regular freshwater input, it is unlikely that they will thrive indefinitely.
The estimated available freshwater flow of the Indus is about 180 billion m3, carrying with it some 400 million tonnes of silt. Over the last 60 years man has built dams, barrages and irrigation schemes to such an extent that the annual flow reaching the delta is now less than 43 billion m3. Further development proposals indicate that the flow may be further reduced to about 12 billion m3. The quantities of silt discharged are now estimated to be 100 million tonnes/year, reducing to about 30 million tonnes (IUCN 1991a).
The reduced flows in the Indus mean that the already high salinity of the creek and soil pore waters will increase. It is not unusual to find salinity in excess of 40-45 parts/thousand in some areas, well above normal saltwater. This tends to have a stunting effect upon the growth of both trees and animal life. It will also have a significant impact upon the mangrove forests, and already there are signs of poor recruitment in some areas. What little rainfall there is takes on even greater significance in this context. It appears that the mangroves take advantage Ð through increased growth rate and seed setting Ð of years in which rainfall is high, and just survive in years of low rainfall.
The reduction in silt flows take on an even greater significance when sea-level rise as a result of global warming is considered. It has been estimated that mangroves with significant land discharge can maintain themselves by accumulating deposited silt when sea-level is rising at rates as high as 2.5 mm/year. Without significant land discharge, mangroves will have difficulty in maintaining themselves above sea-level rises of 1.2 mm/year. It is probable that the Indus Delta may be moving from the former position to the latter. Over the last 100 years the sea-level near Karachi has been rising at a rate of 1.1 mm/year and this may increase in the future. In the short to medium term, however, it is probable that sea-level rises will enhance mangrove survival by increasing the tidal area available for mangrove colonisation (IUCN 1991b).
Apart from these longer-term threats to the survival of the mangroves, there are pressures from overgrazing and lopping for fuelwood and fodder which result in stunted trees. Within the vicinity of Karachi there are other pressures resulting from the steady growth of a major industrial city of over ten million people. Apart from untreated domestic sewage which flows into the rivers, streams and creeks, there are significant industrial discharges from major industries such as steel mills, refineries and power stations, as well as from tanneries and textile mills. Tanneries represent perhaps the most immediate source of pollution, since the waste has a high heavy metal content and comes from a number of different sources which are less easy to control (IUCN 1987a).
The effects of pollution on the mangroves themselves are probably slight; they are able to survive and may even flourish in the localized discharges of freshwater and high nutrient wastes, as is shown by the apparently healthy growth of mangroves within Karachi harbour, the most grossly polluted body of water along the coast. However, many of the faunal populations will be seriously affected and contaminated. This may have an indirect effect upon the mangroves in reducing the efficiency of breakdown of mangrove leaf litter and changing the character of the soils. Such pollution also introduces contaminants into the food chain when fish and crustacea are caught from the creeks for human and animal consumption. The high nutrient content of these waters has caused eutrophication in some creeks, resulting in excessive growth of algae which can smother the young mangrove seedlings.
In 1977, Pakistan's second-largest port, Port Qasim, was built, capable of taking ships up to 50,000 tonnes. It is principally a bulk cargo port for grains and molasses, with plans for an oil terminal and expansion to take ships up to 75,000 tonnes. The area surrounding Port Qasim is being developed as an industrial area, at present dominated by a vast complex of steel mills and a thermal power station.
Before the end of the century it is expected that major new developments in the recreation and tourism sector will have opened up in the areas adjacent to, and including, the mangrove areas. The creeks represent an important resource for recreation, water sports and eco-tourism for a city which has relatively few such resources nearby. Such development will change the relationship between the local people and the mangroves, and will add to the existing stresses on the environment unless developments are planned sensitively. Preservation of the area for viewing wildlife, such as migrating waterfowl, dolphins and mangrove jackals, is being discussed to some extent, as is the idea of a mangrove protected area.
The Korangi Ecosystem Project was set up to develop a management plan for the two major creeks adjacent to Karachi, to be used as a model for sustainable management in the Indus Delta as a whole. The approach is multi-sectoral with a focus upon the mangrove forestry which characterizes the whole ecosystem. The entire project area (one tenth of the total area) has been mapped by satellite imagery at a scale of 1:50,000, with the aim of identifying zones for different uses, e.g. local management for fuelwood, fodder and browsing, protected areas for wildlife and a possible national park, and for fishing.
The first phase of project began in 1987 with a series of studies designed to assess the levels and impacts of pollution in the two northernmost creeks of the Indus delta, the Korangi and Phitti Creeks, those nearest to Karachi. These studies included a rapid assessment of the industrial wastes entering the creeks, a marine pollution survey and a baseline survey of the social and public health conditions in the coastal villages. The conclusions of these studies indicated that industries such as tanneries, which discharge untreated wastes into the storm drains, were perhaps the most damaging. They were also more difficult to control than the large single industries such as refineries, steel mills and power stations because of the large number of small units (IUCN 1987a).
The marine pollution study showed that Karachi Harbour was very polluted with oils, organic matter and heavy metals, but that levels of pollutants decreased with distance from shore. Thus, more southerly creeks are relatively unpolluted and it would seem that Korangi Creek effectively acts as a buffer against pollution for the rest of the creek system. Analysis of the fish and molluscs caught in the area showed that levels of persistent organochlorines and heavy metals were slightly higher than normal, but were not worryingly high (IUCN 1987b).
The sociological survey of the coastal villages showed that over 50% of the population were involved in the fishing industry and that a large proportion of the villagers depended upon the mangrove trees for fuelwood and fodder for their animals. Freshwater supply, sanitation and education were highlighted as the major needs of these villages. The survey also provided insight into the attitudes of the villagers to the natural resources on which they depend. They did not, for instance, recognize the threats to the mangrove ecosystem, considering that they were "God-given" and would always be there, even though signs of ecosystem degradation were evident to them. The survey showed that the reasons for the poor response to a two-month shrimp trawling ban were primarily due to lack of alternative income opportunities during that time, and a poor appreciation of the need for such a ban to protect stocks. The public health survey showed the usual diseases due to inadequate water supply and sanitation, but nothing unusual such as heavy metal poisoning which they might get from regularly eating contaminated fish (IUCN 1987c).
Developing the coastal management plan
Following these studies, the second phase of the project started in 1991 and aimed to develop a working plan for sustainable management of the mangroves in the Korangi-Phitti Creek. The name 'creek' is misleading. At its mouth, Phitti Creek is several kilometres wide and, for about 30 km up to Port Qasim, is navigable by ships of up to 50,000 tonnes. The area was chosen partly because it is the most extensively studied area in the Indus Delta, and partly because it represents a microcosm of the whole delta, with the combination of environmental stresses and opportunities. The Korangi-Phitti Creeks cover about 60,000 ha and have some of the densest growths of mangroves near the largest concentrations of people (100,000) living along the northern edge of the delta.
The project's Coastal Management Plan could only be drawn up through an understanding of the stresses upon the mangroves and how to manage them sustainably. Since these stresses and opportunities cut across many different aspects, the approach of the project has been multi-sectoral.
The Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Organization (SUPARCO) prepared maps of the area at a scale of 1:50,000, based on satellite imagery. These show the creeks, mudflats and sandbanks, and the distribution of dense, normal and sparse mangrove stands. They are the base maps on which management plans are being plotted. Overlays showing the environmental constraints and opportunities are being prepared.
These include pollution sources, pressure from browsing and lopping, areas protected by the presence of Port Qasim, fishing grounds, and proposed industrial and tourist developments. The maps will be used to suggest zones for different uses, such as forest management for fuelwood and fodder production, browsing areas, recreational areas, and wildlife protection areas.
The maps will also provide the information required for the selection of protected areas. A mangrove National Park has been proposed but, because of the multiple uses already going on in the area, such as wood gathering and grazing, as well as port and industrial developments, this may not provide the right structure to protect the mangroves adequately.
The project's principal partner is the Sindh Forest Department (SFD) which is replanting barren areas in the northern part of the delta with mangrove species, especially Rhizophora mucronata. This is an attempt to increase the ecological stability and biodiversity of the area by reintroducing an indigenous species from stock taken from the Makran Coast to the west of Karachi. Trial plantations carried out under a previous UNESCO project showed that the Rhizophora stock can thrive in the Indus Delta conditions, producing flowers and propagules after about five years.
In conjunction with the replanting of other species, including Avicennia marina, SFD are studying the problem of survival of seedlings, which appears to be very patchy. Avicennia, with its radiating root structure and numerous pneumatophores (aerial roots) protruding from the mud, is most useful for stabilising the soil and encouraging accumulation of sediments. In places where Avicennia has been clear-felled, soils have become harder and less amenable to mangrove recolonization. Mixed stands of Avicennia and Rhizophora will be maintained because of the different soil stabilisation characteristics of their root structures (pneumatophores and prop roots respectively).
A continuing decrease in the discharges of freshwater and silt down the River Indus, due in part to freshwater abstraction to meet the demands of a rapidly increasing population, will result in higher soil and water salinity in many parts of the delta. This will cause the young mangroves to be less dense and more stunted than before. For successful management of the mangrove resource, it is therefore important to identify those sites which receive inputs of freshwater and nutrients (e.g. from irrigation drains, domestic and industrial effluents); even though they may be polluted, these areas can act as nodes of more profuse growth and can be actively planted.
The third component of the forestry programme is social forestry. This has the objective of taking pressure off the mangroves by providing alternative trees for fruit, fodder and fuelwood for local villagers. However, in coastal villages where the soils are rather saline, production of fuelwood and fodder from mangroves may be higher than from alternative trees; this is especially relevant since villagers claim not to have enough freshwater for themselves, let alone for watering seedlings. Hence, the social forestry programme will also encourage management of village mangrove plantations: Avicennia for fodder and Rhizophora for fuelwood. This is a new venture in Pakistan and a number of factors need to be addressed beforehand: e.g. security of access to the resources (which lie on Government-owned land), management control of the mangroves by the villagers, and training in all aspects of mangrove management.
The forestry programme is backed-up by studies designed to improve knowledge of the mangrove ecosystem. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has a role in identifying the gaps, commissioning the various studies and coordinating their implementation by Government and non-governmental agencies.
The Botany and Geology Departments of the University of Karachi are assessing mangrove biomass and soil conditions in stands of mangroves exposed to different environmental stresses Ð exposure to winds and currents, areas with higher soil salinity, exposure to pollution and pressure from lopping and browsing. At the same time the Zoological Survey of Pakistan are surveying the distribution of benthic organisms associated with these different mangrove stands, and the distribution of bird populations (IUCN 1992 a,b).
The full importance of mangroves to Pakistan's fisheries is unknown. It is assumed that because they are nursery areas to many commercial species, these species will decline if the mangroves disappear. Various means of controlling fishing have been attempted Ð e.g. a two-month ban on shrimp trawling, and increased mesh sizes Ð but all have proved ineffective. The project is developing a study on the value of the mangroves to the fishing industry as a means of increasing awareness of the problem, and preparing a fisheries management plan. Vested interests in the fishing industry are so high that it may be difficult to achieve very much. However, since very little is known about where fish breed and whether there are areas in special need of protection, it is important that such investigations are carried out, and these are planned for 1993-94.
As fish catches decrease, so fishermen will seek other means of income, initially from fishing and secondly from employment close to home. Shrimp aquaculture in the mangroves offers some possibilities but the shortage of freshwater may be a limiting factor. Elsewhere in the world, shrimp farms have created enormous environmental problems in mangrove areas, but a simple approach, which uses mangrove trees to stabilize pond banks at the back of the fringing mangroves, may be more environmentally sound. The falling mangrove leaves would be used to feed the shrimps. The project will link in with the present Asian Development Bank Aquaculture Development Project to explore these possibilities, within the context of sustainable use of the mangroves.
Shirkat Gah, the NGO which carried out the original social studies, has recently finished a resource use study asking detailed questions of particular groups making use of the ecosystem's resources Ð fishermen, fuelwood collectors and sellers, fodder collectors and camel herdsmen. This has produced some fascinating information about the patterns of use and insights which will become important as the community programme develops (IUCN 1992c). For instance, there appears to be circumstantial evidence of the importance of mangroves to fisheries, since the preferred creeks for fishing are those with the highest density of mangrove cover.
Coastal community development
Any sustainable ecosystem management initiative must have the support of the local population which depends upon the resource. Alongside the forestry programme, therefore, a community development programme is being set up as part of the Korangi Ecosystem Project. The prevailing attitude towards the mangroves has been rather fatalistic even though there are clear signs of degradation of the environment. Changing community awareness about such problems is difficult without establishing the confidence of the local people. First steps are geared towards addressing pressing environmental needs close to home; for example, water supply and sanitation.
Once the confidence of the local communities has been gained, proposals concerning the sustainable management of the mangrove ecosystem can be introduced. It is important that such proposals are socially and economically attractive to the villagers. One example, which the project is currently testing, is the production of mangrove honey. If honey production in the mangroves is viable during the flowering season, which occurs at the same time as the slack fishing season, an alternative source of income can be promoted. This will have two benefits: (a) it will increase the awareness of the usefulness of the mangroves, and (b) pressure on fish stocks may be reduced.
Changing awareness requires a subtle approach through both formal and informal education, so care will be taken over the introduction of scientific information confirming the degradation of the mangrove environment. The project will provide basic environmental training to some of the teachers in the villages. It has also commissioned the development of an environmental street theatre to prepare and perform a play relating to the coastal environment.
Domestic and industrial wastes from Karachi are discharged untreated into the creeks around the city. Pollution control is very expensive and is beyond the scope of the Korangi Ecosystem Project. However, the role of the project in this area is to act as a catalyst for action, to provide objective information and to advise on the technical and institutional means of achieving pollution control. It can even bring together polluting industries and the international donors who can assist with the financing. With the help of the Dutch Embassy, the project has been able to begin this process by holding a consultative workshop on the treatment of tannery wastes. Such workshops, newspaper articles and assistance promotes public awareness and increases the demand for action (IUCN 1992d).
Since prevention is better than the cure, the project is engaged in carrying out an environmental review of the activities in Port Qasim, such as dredging, berthing arrangements, and loading and unloading, as well as its accident and oil spill contingency plans. Future developments near the port include a major industrial area, and the review will suggest environmental protection byelaws which the Port, as the landowner, can impose on incoming industries. This will have the advantage of setting standards of environment protection which are not yet legally enforceable in Pakistan. Similarly, guidelines and byelaws will be suggested for tourism developments in the area controlled by the port.
Freshwater, silt, nutrients and sea-level rise
Early on it became clear that the fundamental issue about the long-term survival of the mangroves in the Indus Delta is the availability of freshwater, silt and nutrients from the River Indus. At about the same time the Government announced the Indus Water Accord, which apportioned the use of the Indus waters between the four provinces of Pakistan. While this accord recognized for the first time the need to allow some freshwater discharge into the delta to safeguard the ecosystem, it set a minimum of 12 billion m3, which many consider too low. In accordance with its aim of increasing awareness at different levels, the project published an issues paper highlighting the problem and the importance of the mangroves in a national and provincial context (IUCN 1991a).
As a follow-up to this, the project is developing a study to investigate freshwater balances in several different creek areas in the Delta and compare the mangrove cover and density. This may help to answer the fundamental question of how much freshwater the mangroves need.
A study has been carried out on the related issue of the impact of sea-level rise upon the mangroves in the Indus Delta. The management plan should incorporate measures to enable the mangroves to keep pace with sea-level rise (IUCN 1991b).
The most effective way of influencing decision makers to consider plans and projects which will have a direct or indirect impact upon the environment is to provide them with reliable information on the cost of further degradation of the mangrove resource. Such information can then be built into economic cost-benefit analyses.
The process of environmental economic evaluation is still in its infancy, especially for wetland areas. However, the project is developing a methodology for such a study in the Indus Delta.
Although these are early days in the life of the project, the replanting of mangroves appears to have become well-established. In 1991, about 100 ha of Rhizophora were planted and a 90% success rate recorded. A further 400 ha were planted in 1992. This consolidates the experience gained earlier by the Sindh Forest Department, and is a stepping stone to more extensive plantations under the World Bank project. Mangrove planting is planned around the mouth of the Left Bank Outfall Drain, carrying irrigation water out of waterlogged agricultural lands, will serve to stabilize the drain and act as a nodal point for future mangrove growth.
Within Government there has been a gradual understanding of the importance of the mangrove resource. Recognition of the need to release at least 12 billion m3 of freshwater into the Indus Delta is a significant step forward. Similarly, Government has commissioned consultants to study the hydrological aspects of the downstream flows below Kotri, the lowest barrage on the Indus. The freshwater issue is perhaps the major national issue for the future, especially in a country which has such low rainfall overall. This debate is just beginning.
Public awareness has been increased through newspaper articles and television programmes, and increasingly many of these have been independently written. The project has also been involved in public exhibitions and has responded to unsolicited requests to plant mangroves.
Similarly, awareness about particular pollution hazards, in particular what to do about tannery wastes, has taken a significant step forward, although the difficult institutional and financial questions are still to be resolved.
Awareness in coastal villages is a much slower process, and this requires long-term commitment and the continued presence in the villages of the project staff involved with this aspect.
Despite the limited achievements so far, there are a number of lessons for wise use projects which have emanated from this project.
1. Wise or sustainable use of natural resources depends upon people; the villagers, those who buy resources from them, those who discharge their wastes into the surrounding environment, and those making decisions about areas without ever having visited them. Wise use projects must attempt to work, directly or indirectly, with all these different levels of people. The most important people to convince of the necessity to conserve the environment and the natural resource are the local people whose livelihoods depend upon them.
2. It is important to provide local users with non-destructive economic uses of the resource; e.g. honey production, fuelwood production, appropriate shrimp culture, and wildlife tourism, as well as encouraging the use of alternative sources of fuelwood and fodder.
3. Wise use projects should attempt to involve the different sectors affected by, or influencing, the natural resource. (It should be recognized that direct action may not always be possible and that a project's role may be more facilitative.) Balances between the different interest groups must also be struck; e.g. use of freshwater upstream must be balanced against use of the resources in the delta, or against using the creeks as a sink for industrial pollution.
4. It has to be recognized the environmental stresses are inevitable. In the context of the Indus Delta, the reality is that the Indus is not the river it once was. Population pressures will further increase the demand for drinking, industrial and agricultural water supplies. The project should therefore look towards developing a strategy with this in mind; e.g. by planting species or strains which appear to have greater salt tolerance, and by concentrating planting efforts in areas where there is likely to be more freshwater and nutrient availability.
5. Sea-level rise needs to be incorporated into long-term management planning. This may mean planting species with a greater capacity to cope with rising sea levels; encouraging the accumulation of sediments amongst existing mangrove stands so that they can raise the levels of their substrate at the same rate as sea-level rise; and identifying, preparing and replanting areas which will become progressively inundated by the tide.
6. Wise use projects should attempt to guide and channel tourism developments so that the environment is protected, but made accessible. Interpretation of the natural environment, especially one often regarded as a wasteland, is a very important aspect in gaining protection for it.
7. In terms of managing relatively pristine environments, this is no longer possible in Pakistan. The ecosystems represented are still significant and unique, both in terms of size and in the ecological services they provide, but they are nevertheless stressed by natural and man-made forces. Under such circumstances, 'wise use' means finding ways and means of mitigating such forces, and 'helping' the ecosystem to adapt without losing its essential character.
P.J. Meynell, Coastal Ecosystem Unit, IUCN Pakistan Office, 1 Bath Island Road, Karachi 75530, Pakistan.
M. Tahir Qureshi, Divisional Forest Officer, Forest Department, Government of Sindh, Pakistan.
The Ramsar Library
Towards the Wise Use of Wetlands
Edited by T. J. Davis (Ramsar, 1993)
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
Under-represented wetland types in the Ramsar "List of Wetlands of International Importance"
Mangroves and the Ramsar Convention