IUCN, SECMC Sign Agreement to Mainstream Biodiversity Conservation in Thar

Karachi (Muhammad Yasir)  IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) formalized a joint collaboration to undertake biodiversity conservation in Thar at a ceremony today.

The first initiative under this partnership aims to protect endangered vulture species in the region through both in-situ and ex-situ methods of conservation over a period of three years. The project entails establishment of a Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre (VCBC) as well as training to Thari communities on preserving and protecting vultures in their natural habitat. External factors which have contributed to the steep decline in the vulture population, such as the administration of harmful drugs like Diclofenac to livestock, will also be addressed.

The ceremony was attended by the Ministry of Climate Change, officials from the Sindh Forest and Wildlife Department, private sector representatives, conservation experts, academicians, as well as civil society.

Speaking as Chief Guest on the occasion, Mr. Shahrukh Nusrat, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, while commending SECMC’s commitment to acting as a socially and environmentally responsible corporation, expounded on the benefits vultures bring to the ecosystems where they thrive, and assured the participants that the initiative had the full support of the Ministry. He also added that the Government of Pakistan has established a National Vulture Recovery Committee to enhance cooperation at the national and regional level to provide safe habitats for vultures.

 Mr. Naseer Memon, General Manager CSR, SECMC explained that while the company was devoted to addressing the energy needs of the country, it was equally mindful of its impacts on the environment and biodiversity, and recognized the importance of striking the right balance between development and conservation.

Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan gave a brief overview of the vulture conservation project. Furthermore, he applauded SECMC’s efforts to preserve their environment, adding that the company’s decision to partner with IUCN for environmental conservation, and with other organisations like Indus Hospital in the health sector, contributed to a number of SDGs, especially SDG 17, which encouraged strong partnerships across the public and private sectors and civil society to further the cause of sustainable development. This commitment to strong partnerships is further exemplified in the fact that IUCN and SECMC will also be taking Baanhn Beli, a Thar-based NGO, onboard to contribute to several of the project’s community-related components.