UN-IMD 2014

Serious Threats Concerning Hydro-Toxification of Subsoil Water Reserves Highlighted by the UNESCO-CIMR Conjoint Observance of International Mountain Day 2014

Inter-disciplinary academicians from different institutions incorporated their vision towards an integrated strategic approach for addressing the key issues concerning ecological sustainability, biosafety, water resources prservation, biological safeguarding and the left behind communities populated in the remote areas of mountains. CIMR, PU made recommendations for a sustainable and progressive 'Mountain Farming'.


Lahore, Punjab -- (ReleaseWire) -- 12/14/2014 --United Nations' General Assembly has designated December 11 as "International Mountain Day". The specific day is celebrated worldwide each year since 2003 and is observed with a different theme pertinent to sustainable mountain development.

University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan, has celebrated a 4-days "International Mountain Day IMD-2014" from 8th Dec. to 11th Dec. 2014, at its Centre for Integrated Mountain Research (CIMR).

About The 'International Mountain Day'
The 'International Mountain Day' is meant to provide opportunities to raise awareness on the importance of mountains to life; to highlight opportunities and constraints in mountain development; and to build partnerships for positive change in mountains and highlands.

The theme of this year's mountain day was "Mountain Farming". Family farming encompasses all the activities within the realms of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, pastoralism and aquaculture that are predominantly reliant on family labour.

This occasion was observed by the senior scientists, researchers and professors from Centre of Excellence in Water Resources (CEWRE), University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore; Soil Survey of Pakistan; Institute of Agriculture Science, (IAGS); Climate Change, Alternate Energy and Water Resources Institute (CAEWRI), NARC. Students from CIMR and other disciplines also participated actively in it. M.Phil. and Ph.D. scholars of the CIMR presented different presentations related to the theme of this year.

Academician from diverse disciplines incorporated their vision towards an integrated strategic proceeding for addressing the key issues concerning ecological sustainability, biosafety, water resources prservation, biological safeguarding and the left behind communities populated in the remote areas of mountains.

A gathering of officials, faculty, researchers, students and participants from the civil society concerned in eco-conservance, environmental sustainability and development, organized multidisciplinary awareness sessions to highlight the 'Mountains' Role in Eco-sustainability' and conveyed an obvious message to public that resource depletion, food, energy and most important water dearth will be crucial in the future due to ever increasing climate change.

Professor Emeritus Dr. Zaki, Prof. Dr. Ch. Ashraf, Mr. Mohammad Ikram, and Prof. Dr. Saleem Haider, Lt. Col. Mir Pervez Khurshid, Rana Atif , Dr. F. M. Bhatti, were among the distinguished partakers of the event. Keynote theme speakers of the UN-IMD concluding session were, Prof. Dr. Malik Muhammad Ehsan and Prof. Dr. Aurangzeb Hafi.

The chief guest, Prof. Dr. Ehsan Malik, expressed his views and emphasized that the mountain day's observance must not be viewed upon in an isolated perspective, but rather should be given a considerate responsiveness in a totalistic perspective. He elaborated further that the urban life is entirely dependent upon the people as well as the diversity found in the mountains. The vegetables we eat, the water we use for the irrigation purpose, the fruits we consume all of their major part come from the mountain areas. Prof. Malik also pondered on the word 'integrated' and realized its significance in broader contexts.

Renowned multidisciplinary fabled arch-researcher of Pakistan Prof. Qadhi Aurangzeb Al Hafi expressed his views regarding the sub-soil hydro toxicology. In this regard, he vigorously criticized the prevailing sewage drainage systems of the urban areas that unnecessarily use to pose an unfair and disproportionate toxic burden on the soil of remote areas. In turn, when the soil eventually becomes incapable to cause the chemical breakdown as well as to process, the un-processed contaminations' leachings in their due course, ultimately cause severe toxification of under-ground water reserves. On account of the human wastes, inorganic waste as well as the industrial wastes, the remote area's soil is constantly burdened with a perplexing scale everyday, pointed Prof. Hafi.

Dr. Khalida M Khan paid special thanks to the Vice-Chancellor PU, Prof. Dr. Mujahid Kamran for his consistent patronage of CIMR to undergo its goals and mission. She also complimented the senior academicians, officials and other supporters who have played pivoting roles to further the development of the neglected communities of the mountainous areas, and thus, have strengthened the CIMR's objectives. Holder of the UNESCO Chair at PU welcomed the participants and highlighted about the event activities. She briefed about the rapid transformation of family farming in mountain region driven by population growth and economic globalization, among other factors.

An interactive sharing regarding Satoyama Initiative and sustainable development was piloted at the University of Punjab, Pakistan.

Seventeen technical presentations on this year's theme of mountain day i.e. "Mountain Farming" were presented and discussed. These presentations were focused on rainwater harvesting technologies for small scale rainfed agriculture in arid and semi-arid areas for the mountain region, Lands of Pakistan and best use of mountains for sustainable farming, mountain farming for resource conservation and sustainable agriculture, sustainable agriculture farming in mountain regions of Pakistan, application RS and GIS in mountain farming etc. Aside by the technical sessions, two field demonstrations regarding precision leveling and rocks identifications were also given.

Main recommendations of the Mountain week are as under:

1.Mountains are non-renewable, so we should be very careful regarding their exploitation and management.

2.The strip cropping system should be adopted instead of conventional agricultural practices. The fallow land should be put under vegetation.

3.Farmers' Organization should be developed for water conservation and management in command areas.

4.Women should be empowered in order to be enabled to play an active role in mountain farming.

5.Agricultural machinery should be provided by the Govt. to the farmers of the mountainous areas.

6.Training programs should be initiated to create awareness in the farmers about advance irrigation systems and soil types of the area.

7.Sustainable mountain family farming produces ecosystem services that are vital for downstream areas and for which farmers should be compensated. Such services include sound watershed management for the provision of freshwater, conservation of biodiversity including vital genetic resources of locally adapted crops and livestock, and attractive cultural landscapes for tourism and recreation.

8.Context-specific policies must be shaped for promoting family farming in mountain regions.

9.To ensure food security, productivity of irrigated and rain fed areas should be enhanced. Livestock sector should be given more attention.

10.Landuse plans of these areas should be prepared to avoid the misuse of land and utilization of soil according to its potential.

11.A strong linkage between professionals/service providers with stake-holders should be developed for improving the most deprived mountains and its communities

12.Rationalized cropping patterns should be devised according to future water management strategies. Furthermore the prices of farm inputs such as fertilizers, seed, machinery etc. should be rationalized.

13.Introduce or promote the production of vegetables at high altitudes contributes to improved access to nutrient-rich diets and improved health of local residents, and generates additional income.

This year, the IMD also witnessed the courteous gesture from the SAARC for considering CIMR as the first SAARC Post-Doc. Research Centre of Sub-soil Hydro-toxicogical Studies in Pakistan. On behalf of SAARC, Prof Hafi announced during the event the legend-inscription that would bring an unprecedented feather in the cap of the University of the Punjab, Pakistan.