First National Report Of Pakistan to the Convention on Biological Diversity Ministry of Environment Government of Pakistan Contents
Source: Rafiq, 1998
Although adequate data is not available about medicinal plants that require conservation, there is overwhelming agreement among experts in the country that the most threatened ecosystems are the alpine and temperate Himalayan forests in the north of the country. There is also agreement that almost all the forests of Pakistan have been exploited heavily during the last two decades (including the medicinal plants).
To initiate conservation efforts, Pakistan has established reserve areas, mainly national parks covering about 10% of the total land. Please see chapters 4 and 5 for further details. Ex-situ conservation of medicinal and aromatic plant seeds has recently been initiated at the Plant Genetic Resource Institute (PGRI) at NARC in Islamabad, where a special department called the Hakim Mohammad Saeed Chamber has been established.
No specific national target in accordance with the 2010 target has been established but more than 20,000 accessions related to agricultural biodiversity have been preserved in ex-situ collections. As there are no comprehensive lists of threatened plant species this target has not been addressed in the official plans.
Protected Area (PA) planning includes the assessment of rare / endangered / threatened plant species. All development projects related to natural habitats have to undertake EIAs that report on the conservation status of plant species.
Pakistan has a number of institutions involved in research and development work on medicinal plants. However, except for a few, the majority are either inadequately equipped or do not have the human and financial resources required for the assigned work. The institutions engaged in research are listed in Appendix C.
For in-situ conservation, better management of National Parks and other reserve areas is required. Lists of internationally threatened species hardly reflect the ground situation. While there are little data available to demonstrate the decline of species’ populations in Pakistan, the accelerating loss and fragmentation of natural habitats clearly implies such a decline is occurring. Habitat fragmentation isolates populations, exposing species to a higher rate of genetic loss and to a greater risk of extinction.
So far as plant species are concerned very little has been done to protect the threatened species. There are few reports available which have indicated the conservation status of some plant species. Chaudhry and Qureshi (1987) reported 709 species as threatened. These studies are primarily based on the herbarium material only. Oldfield et al (1998) reported only two endangered trees from Pakistan. These reports contain merely preliminary data and have no categorization based on the criteria laid down by IUCN i.e. Extinct (Ex), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Lower Risk (LR), Data Deficient (DD) and Not Evaluated (NE). In fact, earlier works of listing threatened species of plants is either fragmentary or out dated and lying with different agencies which need to be re-evaluated and updated. The use of these earlier lists as a conservation tool is limited by the fact that the status of many species remains unclear, particularly of threatened species. It is therefore, very important to have a comprehensive survey of the important vegetation zones particularly of national parks, to evaluate the conservation status of different endangered species. It is important to prepare National Red Data lists of threatened plant species based on recent IUCN categories. Such lists would include species which are nationally rare and declining; those which are nationally rare, not declining, but otherwise at risk e.g. from population fluctuations, natural catastrophes, persecution, etc.; those which are highly localized in distribution; and those which are still widespread and common but suffering significant decline.
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