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Pakistan - Country Profile

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Pakistan has a great variety of landscapes. While riverine forests grow along the banks of rivers, mangrove forests are found in the Indus delta as well as along the coast, and corals have been discovered along the Baluchistan coast. There are mountain ranges along the western border with Afghanistan, and sandy deserts along the eastern border with India. The vegetation is dry (with over 90% of the country classified under dry and sub-humid lands as defined by CBD) and sub-humid land comprised of xerophytic shrubs and small trees, grasslands and steppe. This variation in relief and climate has bestowed Pakistan with rich biodiversity and many ecosystems, habitats and species of global significance. Pakistan has 195 mammal species (6 being endemic), 668 bird species (25 being endangered), 177 reptile species (13 being endemic), 22 amphibians (9 being endemic), 198 fresh water fishes (29 being endemic) and 5,000 species of invertebrates, as well as 5,700 species of flowering plants (over 400 being endemic). Moreover, Pakistan is rich in indigenous crop diversity with an estimated 3,000 taxa and around 500 wild relatives of crops. While the Indian subcontinent was the first to domesticate cattle, water buffalo and chicken, Pakistan has two breeds of buffalo, eight of cattle, one yak, 25 goat, 28 sheep, one horse, four camels and three poultry breeds.

However, this biological diversity is now declining due to human activities and the degradation of natural habitats. Regional case studies present a growing body of evidence of an impending national disaster. In the upland coniferous forests, for example, a systematic study of the Siran area in the Hazara Division, revealed a 52% decline in forest resources between 1967 and 1992. Similar trends have been observed in some other forest areas of the country, to the extent that it is now feared that Pakistan is experiencing the world’s second highest rate of deforestation. In particular, the mangrove forests of the Indus Delta, which constitute the largest arid zone mangrove forests in the world, are now quickly disappearing. In the last 20 years, mangrove cover has been halved from 2,600 square kilometers in the late 1970s to 1,300 square kilometers in the mid-1990s. This destruction is leading to the wholesale disappearance of trees, shrubs and ground flora, together with the vertebrate and invertebrate fauna they normally support. According to Pakistan’s third national report, 20 mammal species, 25 bird species, 6 types of reptiles, 5 types of fish and 8 marine mollusks are presently threatened, but these figures are likely to be underestimated due to lack of data and financial capacity to conduct research.

Pakistan’s fish- and fishery-related sector engages one percent of Pakistan’s population and generates one percent of Pakistan’s GDP earnings through the export of fishery products overseas. During the July 2003 to March 2004 period, 101,256 million tons (valued at 7.9 billion rupees) of fish and fishery products were exported to Japan, USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Middle East, Sri Lanka, China, etc. In particular, the total landings for small pelagics, large pelagics, demersal fish and shellfish in 2003 accounted for 566,203 million tons.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The major threats to terrestrial ecosystems are from overgrazing and deforestation due to high population pressure and increasing poverty. The diversion of water for irrigation has adversely impacted the ecology of mangrove and riparian ecosystems. Game birds and animals are heavily hunted while fisheries from inland and marine ecosystems are harvested to the full limit (with pressure increasing in parallel with population growth). In addition, agrobiodiversity has suffered serious erosion due to the introduction of higher yielding varieties and the use of agrochemicals. Finally, pollution and disposal of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into the rivers and seas are major threats to aquatic and marine biodiversity.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme