KARACHI: The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has launched an awareness and training workshop for the local communities residing near Karachi’s Port Qasim Area to sensitize them to the importance of the mangroves as an ecosystem critical to community livelihoods.The workshop was organized as part of a coastal project on mangroves conservation being jointly implemented by IUCN and Engro Foundation, titled “Mangroves Conservation and Rehabilitation in Port Qasim Area”.The Rs.5 million two-year project aims to involve local communities in the conservation and sustainable management of Pakistan’s precious mangrove forests by highlighting their direct link with fish yield. An area of 500 hectares of mangrove forest will be maintained and cared for by the coastal communities in the project, while training sessions and the establishment of environmental clubs will aid in sensitizing the community to the importance of these forests, as will the development and dissemination of outreach material in local languages.IUCN’s Senior Adviser on Coastal Ecosystems, Tahir Qureshi, citing examples of previous projects, noted that IUCN’s extensive work along the Sindh coast over the years has helped in preserving neglected ecosystems and native biodiversity, and enhancing coastal sustainability. “IUCN Pakistan has been working in the Port Qasim Area since 1987, focusing on the rehabilitation of degraded mangrove forests through the development of innovative planting and nursery techniques, and the organization has collaborated with a number of partners; notably the Sindh Forest Department, and some prominent NGOs and CBOs in the area.”Mr. Qureshi further added that it was “heartening to see companies like Engro Foundation playing an active role in fulfilling their corporate social responsibility.” IUCN has previously collaborated with Engro Elengy to plant 500 hectares of mangroves near the company’s LNG plant at Port Qasim. The current partnership with the Engro Foundation takes this initiative further.Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Aman ul Haque, head of Engro Foundation added that Engro looks towards inclusive business, a cause which benefits low-income communities and expressed his pleasure over entering into a partnership to explore sustainable environmental solutions and address the need for community development and well-being. “Engro believes that sustainable business development is anchored in commitment to engage with key stakeholders in the community and society, and this program aims to promote the growth of the community.”The workshop follows a capacity needs assessment carried out by the IUCN team earlier in the year to establish which basic amenities the communities in the area lack, and entailed an interactive discussion with the community.