Planning and land-use decision-making of wetlands conservation agencies at all levels is enhanced through the provision of comprehensive, current wetlands information, decision support systems and tools utilising spatial and other data from the Wetlands GIS Database.
A Wetlands Survey Programme Section (WSPS) is set up within the PMU under the overall direction of the NCCW.
The Project’s envisaged WSPS involves the recruitment of a broad range of specialists to carry out an integrated series of nation-wide wetlands surveys. Using specialised services and equipment, survey teams will consist of staff from participating government agencies, NGOs, local communities and the private sector.
A core WSPS will be established under the leadership of a technically qualified and experienced co-ordinator. The Co-ordinator, Survey Programme will design a broad, long-term survey programme with quarterly work plans which, with the accompanying budget, will be reviewed by the NPD before approval and execution.
A national wetlands survey programme is designed and implemented. Activities will include but not limited to the following:
(a) the determination of accurate, geo-referenced polygons for the boundaries of all significant wetlands greater than 10 ha in extent, their associated buffer zones and catchment areas; (b) a complete investigation by analysis of satellite images of the geographic occurrence and extent of alpine wetlands in areas above 3,500 m in Pakistan; (c) the development of standard, repeatable population survey programmes, such as Distance® Version 4, for all key wetlands vertebrates, especially those that are reliable, responsive, indicators of wetlands environmental health; (d) the development and implementation of an appropriate water quality monitoring programme for selected wetlands sites; (e) the design and implementation of a national programme to co-ordinate provincial/territorial regional surveys of endangered freshwater and marine reptiles, resident and migratory waterfowl, and freshwater and marine cetaceans; (f) the development of indicators and mapping of socio-economic information including demography, settlement, livelihoods and natural resource-use and (g) the identification of wetlands resources appropriate for the implementation of conservation measures developed in the Project Demonstration Sites.
Principally as a consequence of technical and financial constraints, wetlands surveys by government and private conservation agencies in Pakistan are, at best, sporadic. They consist of irregular counts and estimates of the more significant species in selected, easily accessible wetlands. Little effort is made to co-ordinate survey work between various agencies and provinces, even in the case of endangered species such as the Indus River dolphin. As a consequence of these realities, there is limited ability to detect and respond with any level of sophistication to positive or negative small or large-scale trends in wetland environments.
The basic approach to this component will be to close gaps in the knowledge of the geographic position and quality of wetlands in the remoter areas of the country such as the western deserts of Balochistan and the alpine highlands. A comprehensive, on-going programme of exploratory surveys of uncharted wetlands will be launched in order to enhance baseline information. As jurisdictional and land tenure issues are often at the root of inappropriate use of wetlands, a concerted effort will be made to fix the seasonal and permanent boundaries of significant wetlands and, if appropriate, the associated catchment areas. This will be supplemented by regular seasonal biological and water quality surveys of those wetlands for which basic cadastral information exists. It is anticipated that, by the end of the Project, the annual survey programme will be recognised as a vital component of wetlands management and that government financial support for the agencies involved will be restored to a level that is adequate to sustain the programme. Increased awareness, both in the public and private sector, of the importance of wetlands conservation is also likely to mitigate in favour of improved financial support of the survey programme (Output 5).
The Pakistan Wetlands Geographic Information System (W-GIS) Database is enhanced and deployed to conservation agencies.
Prior to the implementation of the PDF (B) Phase of the PWP, almost all recorded, retrievable information on wetlands in Pakistan was in the form of unpublished departmental and Project reports, a superficial list attached to the draft Wetlands Action Plan (2001) and the details recorded in the Directory of Asian Wetlands (1989). These data sets range in complexity from information on easily accessible wetlands in south central Sindh and in isolated sections of the lower Indus Basin to superficial coverage in the more remote northern alpine areas of the country. Little data is available on associated socio-economic conditions, human population and livestock densities. The general format of these data sets does not facilitate cross comparisons with important parameters such as income levels, poverty indices, human or livestock densities, etc., all of which are significant descriptors of anthropogenic influences on wetlands.
This component of the Project will consist of the following steps: (a) alignment of Pakistan’s Wetlands GIS (W-GIS) with the Asia Wetlands GIS, once it is complete, in order to facilitate data exchange, comparison, and ease of updating; (b) installation of a full-scale updated version of the W-GIS in the offices of the MoE’s NCCW during Project Year 1. A Project technical advisor will be seconded to the NCCW staff for the duration of the Project to maintain, update and facilitate the use of this resource and to train a GoP counterpart to independently operate the Database; (c) provision of working copies of the W-GIS to all six provincial and territorial government conservation agencies with a comprehensive supporting package of computer hardware and software; (d) provision of copies of the W-GIS to key agencies involved in wetlands surveys and biodiversity inventory work; (e) revision of the W-GIS by Project specialists on behalf of the NCCW and various conservation agencies and (f) provision of training material on GIS operation and application in decision-making as well as the training courses in Output 4.