(Web Desk) – For the past one decade, throughout the world city skylines and landmark buildings plunge into darkness for one hour on March 24 to mark the Earth Hour.
Earth Hour is a symbolic call for climate change where many major countries in the world participate in an initiative started by the World Wildlife Fund.
In Pakistan, Earth Hour has been celebrated since 2010. Commenced by the WWF-Pakistan, the initiative has been executed on a massive national scale rallying extensively for the private, government, environmentalists, schools and universities for their participation for one-hour blackout to conserve energy and protect the environment.
This year’s Earth Hour theme is Climate Change and Biodiversity in Pakistan.
According to WWF- Pakistan, the organisation has selected ten key wild life species and five eco-regions in Pakistan that have major importance in conservation and are in dire need of attention.
The list of animals are categorised according to the severity of their conservation. These include endangered, critically endangered or vulnerable species found in Pakistan. Markhor, a wild goat and national animal of Pakistan, which has been enlisted as endangered due to many external threats such as hunting, is also included in the list.
Brown Bear found in Deosai National Park, is one of the only unique bears found in this region which are enlisted as critically endangered due to the threats of habitat degradation and fragmentation of environment due to human activities.
Snow Leopards are enlisted as vulnerable due to illegal hunting, global climate change.
Indus Blind Dolphins, which are also enlisted as endangered have faced many threats due to the construction of water regulatory barrages affecting most of their movements in the river streams.
Common Leopard, enlisted as critically endangered despite provincial laws protecting the animal, are endangered due to illegal hunting.
White Backed Vultures are critically endangered and are one of the most important birds ecologically because they consume dead animals and clean the environment. The main threats for these unique birds are due to the steroidal drugs used in livestock, which causes kidney failures.
The list also includes Marine Turtles, Whale Shark, Indo-pacific Humpback dolphins which has faced serious threats of water pollution, entanglement in fishing gears and high human population density.
For this year’s Earth Hour theme, WWF-Pakistan has selected some of the unique and endangered eco-regions in Pakistan, which have been affected by severe pollution and lack of preservation.
Indus Ecoregion, which is one of the richest ecoregions in the world, has a large number wildlife species suffering from external threats such as habitat loss, water scarcity, vanishing of key species, destruction of forests and disappearance of migratory birds.
Arabian Sea, home to many diversified eco-system, has mangroves, delicate coral reefs, sea grass beds which is home to many marine life and breeding grounds for many fishes, is affected by residential and commercial development, effluent discharge affecting species composition in many areas.
Chilghoza Forest is also enlisted as threatened by the environmental pollution and human intervention, where it provided home to many animals and a credible source of income to many homes, the deforestation and cutting of trees has affected and threatened wildlife species dependent on the forest.
Rann of Kutch, which was once home to many unique animals and birds, has been threatened due to cattle grazing, tree cutting, and vehicular traffic. This region had many endemic animals, which are now enlisted in endangered list.
Central Indus Westlands Complex, another listed as one of the places which has been highly affected by the rural pollution, farming, and human induced threats in the conservation of the ecosystems in the region.
Speaking to Dunya News, Asma Ezdi, Head of Communications and Marketing, WWF-Pakistan said that this was the ninth year that Earth Hour was being celebrated in Pakistan. “And this voluntary act has gained popularity in the country,” she said.
This year, she said, various organisations and individuals who wanted to step forward and organise Earth Hour events in their towns and offices approached them.
“We also approached numerous corporate organisations, partners, academic institutions and others to support WWF-Pakistan,” added Ezdi.
“We were happily surprised that most of these had already planned to commemorate the hour. This just goes to show that people have become more environmentally aware and responsible than previously, and that such campaigns do have an impact on the public.”
“Most landmarks across the country will be turning off their lights.”
Commenting on the participation of the government on Earth Hour, Ezdi said the government is a partner in promoting this initiative. The Ministry of Climate Change, Senate, and the national and provincial assemblies support WWF-Pakistan and have taken the Earth Hour pledge, added Ezdi.
“Further, the Climate Change Act, which was passed in 2017, is evidence that the government is stepping up to play its part,” she added.
Earth Hour will be observed at 8:30 pm local time throughout the world with major buildings turning off their lights for one hour.