Srinagar, 11.12.2020:Webinar on International Mountain day was organised by Institution of Engineers (India) J&K State Centre, Srinagar, in collaboration with Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department, J&K Mountaineering & Hiking Club and J&K State Emergency Operation Centre, Srinagar today. The webinar was inaugurated by Chief Conservator of Forests Kashmir, Syed Farooq A Gillani, who appreciated the participants for showing keen interest towards conservation of biodiversity of forests and mountains and its resources. He said that mountains are the repositories of resources. He called the mountains “Jewels of Nature” and “Water Towers” but said that these resources are under constant threat by indiscriminate activities of humans. He spoke about the Policies that Govt has framed for conservation of mountains and said that its time to act now otherwise in the near future we may be overwhelmed by various catastrophic impacts if we don’t act now. He said that Biodiversity registers are being maintained so that all plans are aligned towards preservation of biodiversity.
Prof. Shakil Romshoo, Dean Research, Univeristy of Kashmir in his key note address said that Himalayas are our pride and we reside in the most beautiful part of the Planet. He said that snow and glaciers provide water to over 300 million people for and implored that it’s our collective responsibility to preserve this important resource.
Chairman IEI, Er Aamir Ali welcomed the participants and said that 11th December is observed every year as International Mountain Day and this year the theme is Protecting Mountain biodiversity. He said that the great Sufi Saint, Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani, Rehmatullah had said in the 14th Century that “Ann Poshi Teli Yeli Wann Poshi”, meaning that the survival of mankind is dependent on co-existence of the Forests and its bio-diversity. He said that Biodiversity includes all the ecosystems, species & resources in the mountains and that more than 15% of the world’s population lives in the mountains, including in Jammu & Kashmir. He said that mountains provide freshwater, but unfortunately, its eco system is under constant threat from climate change and overexploitation. He said that as the global temperatures rise, the mountain diversity is struggling to survive and the rising temperatures also mean that our glaciers are melting at alarming rates, which will not only affect the freshwater supplies but also result in unseasonal floods and disasters. He pointed out that improper land use change, encroachments in forest areas, deforestation, climate change, unsustainable farming practices, commercial mining, and illegal poaching of wildlife are the main factors responsible. He urged that necessary measures be taken by all, to prevent this and reduce our carbon footprints and preserve our forests and biodiversity for the sake of our children and future generations.
Honorary Secretary, IEI JKSC Er. M. Aaquib Sultana Waheed Deva moderated the programme. Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, Rashid Naqash spoke about Wildlife Protected areas being the repositories of mountain biodiversity. He said that mountains are the largest laboratories of knowledge and provide us with immense resources from food to medicines. A young Mountaineer and Rescuer, Nawab Moazan Khan, from JKMHC, who has been selected to scale the Mount Everest in 2021, spoke on how to involve youth in mountain biodiversity. He said that youth is the most important resource and they have the capabilities to be enthusiastic and understand that the mountain is an important resource. Conservator, Forests Irfan Ali Shah, said that during any developmental activity in the mountains, the Forest Department ensures that there is minimum disturbance to the forest ecosystem. The Valedictory function was chained by Director Industries and Commerce Kashmir and President JKMHC Mahmood Ahmed Shah. He said that the Govt and people can together contribute to preserve biodiversity of the mountains and that it is necessary to educate people and spread mass awareness about the importance, benefits and purpose of mountains and its biodiversity, in our lives. The webinar was coordinated by Mohmmad Suhail Wani and Bilquees Dar, Consultants Disaster Management, who also presented the vote of thanks.