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Conservation efforts reverse decades-long decline of critical mangrove forests: 'The lifeline for the fishing community'

Conservation efforts like this one are critical to the region because of devastating extreme weather events.

Conservation efforts like this one are critical to the region because of devastating extreme weather events.

Photo Credit: iStock

Mangrove forests have been declining for decades worldwide — but not in Pakistan. 

Thanks to increased planting, conservation efforts, and public awareness campaigns, Pakistan's mangroves nearly tripled between 1986 and 2020, as Mongabay reported. 

Researchers who conducted a 2022 analysis using geospatial techniques concluded, "It is because of the constant endeavor by government and NGOs."

Mangroves are important because they protect the coast from rising sea levels and worsening storms, provide wildlife habitats, and reduce carbon in the ecosystem. Common threats to mangroves include illegal camel grazing and wood harvesting. 

Pakistan's fishing communities benefit from the mangrove expansion, which protects valuable fish stocks from the effects of changing temperatures. This is an especially crucial issue in Pakistan following the devastating floods of 2022, which scientists deemed 75% more intense because of the changing climate. 

Fortunately, policymakers are paying attention and supporting climate resilience projects like the National Adaptation Plan, Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, Protected Areas Initiative, and Living Indus Project

Meanwhile, public engagement has been essential to protecting these mangroves and Pakistani communities from illegal activity so that future generations can continue to depend on the mangroves for food, water, and jobs.

A young fisherman named Akbar, who refers to the mangroves as timar trees (as they are called in the local language), told Mongabay, "These timar trees are the lifeline for the fishing community. We have fishes, shrimps and crabs, which are a source of our livelihood. These are in abundance where timars are present."

Conservation efforts like this one are critical in Pakistan because of devastating extreme weather events. We can apply the lessons learned in Pakistan to communities worldwide to study the benefits of mangroves and restore critical mangrove populations to benefit entire ecosystems and the families who call them home. 

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