J&K Biodiversity Council along with The Celestial Earth, today organized the stakeholder’s meeting on developing the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Jammu & Kashmir.On the occasion the Commissioner/Secretary, Department of Forest, Ecology & Environment, Sanjeev Verma, was the chief guest. The meeting was also attended by VC Islamic University,Dr. Shakil Romshoo; Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Pondurang K. Pole; Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (HoFF),Dr Mohit Gera; Director, SFRI & Addl. PCCF, Sh. Asaf Mahmood Sagar; Director, Environment Dr. Neelu Gera; Director Social Forestry, Roshan Jaggi and other Heads of the Departments, Scientists & experts from Kashmir University, SKAUST & other Institutions, NGOs and members of civil society.The meeting was held in the backdrop of the national guideline issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in 1999 to develop national as well as state level biodiversity strategy and action plan.Speaking on this occasion,the CommissionerSecretaryemphasized on the importance of development of strategy and action plan for biodiversity conservation of J&K in the context of increasing climate change and anthropogenic impacts on J&K’s fragile ecosystems and threatened biodiversity. He expressed his elation on finding the development of strategy and action plan document for J&K and emphasized the importance of making the document comprehensive and inclusive.
He urged the departments to create a robust strategy and action plan by mutual cooperation and understanding. He also highlighted the role of the document in guiding future sustainable development of J&K. He assured all administrative support in the process of its development and publication in the near future.Dr Romshoo highlighted the importance of the document saying that we are living at the crossroads of environmental change. He remarked that it is ‘now or never' for us. He emphasised that if we fail to act in next 10 years our future generations would be in a great peril. He asked all the stakeholders including scientists, academicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and other people to play their role in building a sustainable tomorrow for our progenies to come.PCCF & HoFF, who is also chairperson of the Biodiversity Council highlighted the vulnerability of J&K to climate Change and its linkage to Biodiversity. He mentioned that the proposed biodiversity strategy & action plan of J&K will be the key document for the council in the years to come in terms of developing its future programs. The inclusiveness of the document will enhance the cooperation among different departments in J&K which will lead to climate smart and biodiversity conscious sustainable development. Dr. Gera deliberated on the critical role of forest and other primary sectors like agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and sheep & animal husbandry in mitigation and adaptation to changing climate. Dr. Anindya Bhattacharya, Executive Director of The Celestial Earth explained the importance of the action plan for biodiversity conservation in J&K and highlighted the process of developing the document following the guideline of National Biodiversity Authority. He also deliberated on the importance of multi-stakeholder consultation to make the document inclusive and relevant for J&K.The Stake holder’s Consultation meeting was conducted in three technical sessions on conservation of natural resources, climate change vulnerability & biodiversity conservation followed by a concluding session on way forward for enriching the draft strategy and action plan.Earlier the meeting began with welcome address by Asaf Mahmood Sagar and Irfan Ali Shah conducted the Inaugural session of the meeting and presented the vote of thanks to the dignitaries and other participants.