Helping the turtles survive
The primary objective of the project is to develop sustainable programs and activities for protecting the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and conservation and land use management of the Green Sea Turtle nesting beach habitat in the project area through interventions based on the concept of environmental stewardship and participatory management.
Sea Turtles – Global Significance
A thorough literature review process preceded the process of meetings and consultations with project stakeholders and relevant experts to assess the global significance of sea turtles (particularly green sea turtle, globally and in general in Pakistan). Their conservation status and distribution, patterns of oceanic migration, nesting and foraging behavior and the threats faced by them were also looked into.
Sea turtles are marine reptiles that have existed since their giant land turtle ancestors returned to the sea sometime during the age of the Dinosaurs. Currently, seven species are clearly recognized. They include the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), flatback (Natator depressus), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), and Kemp’s ridley (Lepidohclys kempi). Sea turtles are highly migratory and utilize the waters of more than one country in their life times. The sea turtles are shared resources among many nations.
Scientists are just beginning to understand the important ecological role sea turtles play in various marine and coastal ecosystems.
Where large numbers of plant eating green sea turtles graze on sea grasses and algae, commercially important species such as shrimps, lobsters, fish and sharks thrive because the sea bottom habitat is more healthy and productive.
By depositing their eggs on the shore, sea turtles transport vital nutrients from the ocean to nutrient poor coastal and inshore habitats. In fact, sea turtles are the only marine species that regularly transfer nutrients to the upland coastal habitat.
Hawksbill turtles, which feed on sponges and corals, are believed to play a major role in maintaining the health and diversity of coral reef systems.
In the Pacific, the collapse of leatherback turtle populations is partly responsible for an explosion in jellyfish populations (their main diet), which in turn has negatively effected commercial fishing. In short, sea turtles are increasingly being recognized as an important strand in the web of ocean life – Sea turtles help to sustain the biological diversity of the oceans, and biological diversity in the oceans helps sustain the Earth.
Presently, all species except the Australian flat-back are listed in the IUCN Red List as Endangered or Vulnerable. All marine turtles are included in Appendix I of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and all species except the flat-back are listed in Appendices I and II of CMS (the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals)
Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
The green sea turtle grows to a maximum size of about 4 feet and a weight of 440 pounds. It has a heart shaped shell, small head and single clawed flippers. Color is variable. The nesting season varies with locality and occurs nocturnally at 2,3, or 4 years intervals. Only occasionally do females produce clutches in successive years. A female may lay as many as nine clutches within a nesting season (overall average is about 3.3 nests per season) at about 13 days intervals. Clutch size varies from 75 to 200 eggs. The incubation period is from about 45 to 75 days, depending on the incubation temperature. Hatchlings generally emerge at night. Age at sexual maturity is believed to be 20 to 50 years.
The green sea turtle has a worldwide distribution in tropical and subtropical waters. There is an estimated population of approximately 550,000 green sea turtles worldwide. Green sea turtles are generally found in fairly shallow waters (except when migrating), inside reefs, bays and inlets. The turtles are attracted to lagoons and shoals with an abundance of marine grass and algae. Open beaches with a sloping platform and minimal disturbances are required for nesting. Green Sea Turtles apparently have a strong nesting site fidelity and often make long distance migrations between feeding grounds and nesting beaches. Major green turtle nesting colonies in the Atlantic occur on Ascension Island, Aves Island, Costa Rica and Surinam. In the Western Pacific, the largest green turtle nesting aggregation in the world occurs on Raine Island, Australia, where thousands of female turtles nest nightly in an average nesting season. In the Indian Ocean, major nesting beaches occur in Oman where 6000 to 20,000 females are reported to nest annually.
A major factor contributing to the green turtles decline worldwide is commercial harvest for eggs and meat. Other threats include loss or degradation of nesting habitat from coastal development and beach armouring; disorientation of hatchlings by beach front lighting; excessive nest predation; degradation of foraging habitat; marine pollution and debris; watercraft strikes; and incidental take from channel degrading and commercial fishing operation.
Sea Turtle Nesting Sites in Pakistan.
Virtually all the marine turtle nesting sites in Sindh occur on the Hawskbay – Sandspit beaches, concentrated along one 5 km stretch but extending in some degree along the entire beach strip of around 20 km, some nesting also occurs on parts of the remaining coast extending westward to the Balochistan border near Cape Monze. Though Hawkesbay – Sandspit beaches represent the largest nesting habitat for marine turtles in Pakistan, having importance both in regional and global terms, there have been some indications that the remaining coastline of Pakistan, in Baluchistan province, may hold significant numbers of marine turtles. Marine turtles have been found to nest in the vicinity of each of the four main fishing towns – Jiwani, Gwadar, Pasni, Ormara – along the Makran Coast of Baluchistan, Pakistan. All the available evidence, comprising nest pits, stacks and skeletal material, suggest that the green turtle is the main species involved, possibly the only species. Other species (likely to be Olive Ridley – Lepidochelys Olivacea or Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricate) many nest at other times of year or at other locations.
Sea turtles enjoy a Protected status in Pakistan, either directly or indirectly through the following legal and regulatory provisions
According to the Second Schedule of the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1972, all marine turtles in the Sindh province enjoy the status of a Protected Animal
The clause 5 (Export Restriction) in the Pakistan Fish Inspection and Quality Act 1997, of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Government of Pakistan, forbids the export and domestic consumption of Aquatic Turtles.
Pakistan is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The Government of Pakistan acknowledges the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species which lists the green turtle as a Threatened Species
Project Area - Sandspit/Hawkesbay Beach, Sand-dune Coastal Ecosystem (Green Sea Turtle Nesting Site).
Field visits and physical surveys of the project area were carried out and public opinion was gathered. In addition, extensive consultations were held with relevant stakeholders which included the City District Government of Karachi (CDGK), Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Manora Cantonment Board, Town and Union Council Administrations, Local Communities, Sindh Wild Life Department and WWF Pakistan (For detailed list see appendix). Familiarization was made with the issues related to the project area ecology and fruitful contacts with project stakeholders were established. The ecological, geographical, political, social and administrative status of the project area, with reference to the objectives of turtle habitat conservation, as ascertained through preliminary base line surveys, meeting and consultations is discussed below.
The coast west of Karachi Harbour entrance upto Buleji/Paradise Point (See Maps 1&2) consists of sand beaches – The Manora, the Sandspit and the Hawkesbay beaches, which are separated from each other by rocky protruding points. The Hawkesbay/Sandspit beaches lie about 15 km south west of Karachi City. They are flanked to the northwest by the Arabian Sea and to the southwest by a dense mangrove forest cover in the coastal backwaters.
Significant Shoreline Features.
The significant shoreline features of both the Hawkesbay and Sandspit beaches are discussed as follows.
There is no cliff at the Hawkesbay beach. The sand dunes are common all along the beach at high water zone. The beach slopes vary between 20-40 degrees from high water mark to the sub-tidal area and then slopes are very gentle up to a depth contour of 5 meters. There is a small rocky outcrop within the interidal area between Hawkesbay and Sandspit called Kakapir area (at this location is also situated the Kakapir Village – to be discussed in detail later). The rocky ledges have a very gentle slope and extend only up to the neap low water zone. There are sabellarian reefs along the edges of the rocky ledges hanging in the inter-tidal area due to erosion of the rocky ledge near the neap low water zone. The rest of the basement of the rocky ledges is buried in the sand and extends up to the adjacent sub-tidal area. (See Map 4a)
No cliffs are present. Sand dunes at high water zone of this long sandy beach oriented at southwest direction. The beach slopes vary between 40-60 degrees from high water mark to the sub-tidal area and then slopes are very gentle up to a depth contour of 5 meters.
The Sandspit/Hawkesbay beaches are easily accessible from the city and contain a large number of beach huts located close to the high water line. (See Map 4b)
Land Ownership/Management and Regulation
Land Ownership of the beaches is shared between Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and City District Government Karachi (CDGK). The area falls under the political jurisdiction of Keamari Town within CDGK. Sandspit beach area comes under the jurisdiction of KPT. Regulatory control is exercised by Manora Cantonement Board.
Board which looks after issues like water supply/sewerage, street lightning, garbage disposal, land use control (e.g. Hut Lease violations).
The Hawkesbay beach area falls under the jurisdiction of CDGK, which owns land and through its sub-agencies like Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) exercises land use control and is responsible for provision of facilities/amenities. It is also responsible for undertaking predator control.
Two separate types of human settlement patterns exist in the project area.
Permanent Human Settlement
Non-permanent Human Settlement
Permanent Human Settlement
The permanent human settlement exists in the form of the Kakapir coastal fishing village located at the meeting point of the Sandspit and Hawkesbay beaches. Kakapir village is spread over an area of about one (1) square km. The mangrove cover (specie Avicennia Marina) is spread on an area of 300 ha. The village has a population of 587 with 95 households (Census year 2000). Average family size is about 6 to 7 members. Population is 95% ethnic Sindh with some clusters of Baloch and Siraiki speaking communities. Almost 90% of households are dependent on fishing and related activities. Women are mostly involved in household chores, child rearing, livestock management and fuel and fodder collection.
Gender Description Population Gender wise %
Men (Adult) 155 26
Women (Adult) 134 23
Boys below age 18 139 33
Girls below age 15 105 18
Total 587 100
(Source: WWF Pakistan)
Non - permanent Human Settlement
Visitors to the Beach Huts represent the non-permanent classification of Human Settlement in the project area. --- huts are located in the KPT owned stretch of the beach, while 282 beach huts are located in the jurisdiction of the CDGK owned stretch of the beach area. No data exists on the number of recreational visitors in the beach area. The plots at Sandspit / Hawkesbay are held on temporary lease (lease for ten years renewable for another ten years), which are neither ownership nor tenancy and the allottee possesses temporary lease rights.
Flora and Fauna
The sandy shores of Karachi coast have three to four main groups of macro marine organisms such as crabs, gastropods, macro fauna, intestitial fauna and cast off seaweed along the high water zone as well as floating near the coastal waters. The green sea turtle commonly nests in the sandy beaches all along the coast - in particularly large numbers on the Sandspit/Hawkesbay beaches.
The Crabs Ocypoda rotundata – the ghost crabs, are very common near the high water zone, and the moon crab (Matuta lunaris) are also found on some of the sandy shores. The common gastropods of the sandy shores include Nautica didyma, Terebra sp. The star fishes (massive star fishes – Asterina sp.) are also common in the sandy shores (e.g. Clifton,Hawkesbay etc). The gastropods are usually found more frequently on the sandy beaches with more steep angle of beach slope, while star fishes are more common on sandy beaches with gentle angle of beach slope.
Ongoing Turtle Conservation Projects
Two separate Turtle Conservation Projects being conducted independently by the Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD), Ministry of Forest and Wildlife, Govt. of Sindh, and the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature Pakistan, are presently ongoing in the project area.
Turtle Conservation Project – SWD
The SWD has been engaged in conservation of marine turtles in the Hawkesbay – Sandspit area since late 1979 through a project on Research and Conservation of Turtles. The main specified objective of this program is to save the marine turtles from extinction. The following steps have been undertaken to achieve this project objective.
Establishment of enclosures for protection of turtle eggs/ hatchlings along the nesting zone to save them from predators and poachers.
Documentation (count) of turtles visiting the beaches for nesting and of hatchlings released into the sea.
Tagging of nesting turtles (tagged turtles have been found to make multiple visits to area during a single nesting season and have also been spotted on the beaches of Oman, Eritria and Gujarat, India). Three fenced hatcheries are presently being used for the project related activities- two are located in Sandspit and on in Hawskaby beach. Construction work is also underway on a Laboratory in Hawskaby beach which is being built to do research on behavior of turtles during captive breeding, study their migration patterns and document nesting frequency.
Turtle Conservation Project – WWF Pak.
The WWF Pakistan is conducting a research/education program on turtle conversation. Though the main focus of the WWF Program in the area is on conservation of mangrove ecology, limited level documentation on turtle nesting (count of turtles) does take place.
WWF has also recently in co-operation with Hong Kong Shanghai Bank (HSBC) initiated a program for supporting Turtle Conservation activities in the Project Area. The program has three focus areas:
Setting up of billboards giving information on
green turtle conservation practices.
Supporting research project for one M.Phil or PhD student in turtle conservation.
Hiring two personnel for beach cleaning and watch and ward activities during the green turtle nesting season.
WWF Pakistan has express confidence that the project being proposed by Shehri–CBE would greatly help in enhancing the impact of their initiative with HSBC.
During consultation with local communities, SWD / WWF and local elected representatives, the following threats were identified:
It has been reported that dogs which dig up turtle nests, pose the most potent direct threat to the turtle eggs/hatchlings. The dogs present in the project area are either owned by the inhabitants of the nearby Kakapir village or are of the stray dog variety. In the past, pie dog campaigns have been carried out. However, the villagers have resisted any efforts to eliminate their dogs and as such results of such efforts have not been very successful.
Crows and other birds, pose a similar kind of threat. Beach litter and garbage on the beach also contributes in attracting greater number of dogs and birds in the area.
Turtle meat is not consumed locally. However, turtle eggs, high in protein value are in limited demand and are consumed for medicinal purposes. Poaching activities, though have been observed to be limited in scale. Local demand for turtle eggs is low and mostly it has been reported that turtle eggs are sold to city residents of East Asian decent. Hatchlings are sold for use in private aquariums. No data exists which documents the scale of poaching activities in the project area.
Presently, beachfront development in the project is limited to the construction of beach huts. However, landuse violations have been observed with a number of huts exceeding the limits of land usage as prescribed in the law. This is resulting in reduction in available nesting habitat for turtles. In addition, certain activities, discussed below, related with beach hut habitation also impact adversely on turtle nesting/hatching activities in the project area.
Beachfront Lightning: Night time use of beach huts is common in the project area. Use of lighting in the night discourages females from nesting and causes hatchlings to become disoriented because they instinctively head towards the brightest horizon, which should be the moonlit ocean. Beachfront lighting instead causes them to disorient and wander inland, where they often die of dehydration or predation. They are also run over by offshore road traffic.
Beach Pollution – Litter/Debris
In the absence of any effective and regular beach cleanup and garbage disposal system, beaches often contain high amount of beach litter. Green turtles eat a wide variety of marine litter such as plastic bags, plastic styro-foam pieces, balloons and plastic pellets. Effects of consumption include interference in metabolism or gut function, even at low levels of ingestion as well as absorption of toxic by products. In addition, garbage attracts predators like dogs and crows/gulls in large numbers which then pose a direct threat to the turtle eggs/hatchlings.
Construction debris from newly constructed and unused/unprotected huts has been noticed at various locations in the project area. This debris can alter the beach habitat, hamper or deter nesting attempts as well as interfere with the incubation of eggs and the emergence of hatchlings.
Beach Pollution – Tar Balls
Most of the sandy beaches of Karachi coast are relatively free from oil pollution. However, a number of sandy beaches on the open coast, which include Hawkesbay, Sandspit and Paradise point, have tar balls. The density of tar balls at present is not considered alarming but it does indicate that if the present trend of discharging oil and oily wastes in the coastal waters continues unchecked, the oil pollution could seriously disturb the beach ecology. Turtles in the project area have been reported to consume tar balls which have effects on them similar to the ones discussed earlier in the case of consumption of beach litter like plastic.
Fishing (Commercial / Sportfishing)
Wide scale commercial fishing does not take place in the open sea along the Sandspit / Hawkesbay beaches. Firshermen from the Kakapir village sail towards the Manora channel and beyond to look for fish. However some limited scale fishing by using spread nets (trap line) has been reported to take place for catching small fish. In such cases, turtles have been reported to get caught in fishing nets and are either wounded or become handicapped for life (e.g. flippers are split). Use of Turtle Extruder Device (TED) is not common.
However, locals and agencies involved in research activities in the area feel that a greater hazard is sport fishing and angling activities taking place close to the beach during night time. Use of powerful searchlights and loud noise of motorboats are known to discourage females from nesting and cause disorientation of hatchlings. Turtles are also reportedly entangled in the fishing rods used during such occasions.
There is at present little details available to provide a quantitative estimate of the rates of erosion at different places along the coast. However, some observations and data are available to have rough estimates and to compare the intensity of erosion at different beaches along Karachi coast.
The sandy beaches all along the coast are almost flat and are eroded by south west monsoon waves. The erosion is severe along the west coast of Karachi. The erosion effects are more pronounced on the rocky beaches. It is documented that the erosion on the sandy beaches taking place during southwest monsoon period gets usually balanced out during the northeast monsoon period when the reversal in the direction of the prevailing seawater currents takes place. However, large quantities of sand move from one end of the coast up to the other and one end of the sandy beach to the other end particularly during the two monsoon periods. Severe sand erosion and deposition have been documented at sandy beaches at Sandspit area and Manora beaches.
During discussions with SWD officials, it was found that sand mining activities have also been reported in the project area. Experience and research in other parts of the world have shown that when beaches are nourished by pumping, trucking or otherwise depositing sand on a beach to replace what has been lost due to natural erosion process or physical removal by mining, it can negatively impact sea turtles. If the sand is too compacted for turtles to nest in or if the sand imported is drastically different from native beach sediments, the nest-site selection, digging behavior, incubation temperature and the moisture content of nests is affected. Therefore, it is felt that activities such as sand mining could have irreversible adverse impact on the turtle nesting habitat in the project area.
Key Issues / Stakeholders
Based on the preliminary field visits and meetings / consultations, some related to the various government, private actors and local communities were identified.
It is a matter of some concern that both the City Government and the KPT have not formulated or enforced any legislative and regulating mechanisms for the protection of this sensitive ecological and wildlife habitat. The Hut Lease Deed provides a useful instrument for facilitating habitat / specie protection measures. However, this instrument lacks any provisions or stipulations for environmental control and habitat protection.
It is also indicated that implementation of whatever land use restrictions, that do exist in the Hut lease Deeds are also not being effectively implemented. An important reason for reduced regulatory control could be lack of public knowledge about the status of the beachfront area. This lack of public knowledge in turn could be linked to lack of public access in an area otherwise designated for public use as a recreational outlet. This is a serious concern. Sandspit / Hawkesbay are public beaches. However, the whole stretch of land along the sea front has been leased out to private parties. Barriers like ropes/chains have been placed between individual huts and public use of the beach, in front of private huts, is discouraged by private hut owners (who as stated earlier, do not own the beach). Such practices discourage and severely restrict beach use by general public. In actual fact, a public beach has been turned into a private beach. This reality while being undesirable in the moral and legal sense, also reduces options for gaining public support for the protection of this sensitive green turtle habit due to lack of public access and thereby lack of knowledge and information.
No organized system for the management and continuos monitoring of garbage / litter and predator control is employed in the area. The City Government, for some time has not initiated any pye-dog campaign
The huts are either leased out to individuals or to corporate entities. Neither have shown any initiative or resolve to undertake measures for environmental or habit / specie protection in the area. As mentioned earlier, structural violations of hut lease deeds are indicated.
The hut chowkidars belong mostly to the nearby Kakapir village. They have been identified as a critical and significant human presence in the green turtle nesting / hatching area. Their presence is continual and is not monitored. Preliminary surveys have indicated that serious involvement of chowkidars in turtle poaching activities cannot be ruled out. While the hut chowkidars presently seen to offer a threat to the turtles, they also offer the best chance and medium for sustainable green turtle and habitat protection, as will be discussed in detail later.
The emergence of elected representatives at the union and town council levels as a result of the recently established local government system, offers a positive avenue for mobilizing public opinion and ensuring meaningful public participation in project activities. This factor also suggests greater chances for the sustainability of the project. The project area comes under the political jurisdiction of Union Council – 4 of the Keamari Town of the City Government. Fruitful contacts have already been established with local councilors, area Nazims on matters related to their involvement in the project on such critical issues as predator / garbage control, monitoring of habitat protection measures and public / community involvement.
Research / Conservation Agencies
As has been mentioned earlier, the Sindh Wildlife Department and WWF Pakistan are presently engaged in conservation efforts in the project area. The focus is on documentation of turtle population and to a limited extent to raising public awareness. It is considered that wider issues like habitat protection, wide scale stakeholder co-ordination for greater impact and training for environmental stewards are issues that are not being wholly considered. It may be due to organizational priority of focus or lack of funds or both. However, their presence is extremely useful and it is felt would blend in well with the more holistic and wide-ranging plan of action being formulated for implementation in the proposed project.
Activities to be carried out under the project
Green Turtle Habitat/Specie Protection through Integrated Landuse and Conservation Management
Field visits, surveys and meetings/consultations with relevant stakeholders indicate that direct threats to the green turtle eggs/hatchlings during the breeding season can be attributed to continued predator (dogs/crows) attacks and to a limited extent to poaching. Though serious enough in themselves, they need to be further investigated in terms of real threats. There may be other causes which inflict high risk and are the route causes of the limited success of the ongoing turtle conservation strategies in the vicinity. Do yourself approach is not an effective management practice when its comes to protecting the ecosystem. What is really need is a comprehensive participatory process assigning stewardship responsibility to the actors in the field.
Threats such as predator attacks can be checked and controlled through effective intervention at any stage and impact to the turtle nesting/hatching process is not considered irreversible. However, it is felt that alteration in the turtle nesting habitat through unregulated changes in landuse, if not curbed on an urgent basis at this stage could have serious impacts on the capacity of the beaches to support sustainable marine turtle populations and turtle nesting/hatching activities - Impacts and effects it is feared which might not be of a reversible nature.
It has already been discussed that serious violations of hut leases are taking place in the project area. Landuse stipulations are being breached both in the horizontal and vertical space usage. While the Hut Lease Deeds themselves serve as ineffective instruments of regulatory mechanism for enforcing proper environmental controls in this sensitive ecological area, the ongoing violations of the existing regulations (which at least put limits on space usage), are further exacerbating the situation.
Then there is the issue of public awareness and involvement in turtle conservation efforts. As has been discussed earlier, conversion of what should have been a Public Beach into a Private Beach is preventing free an unhindered public access to the area which limits the chances of initiating successful and participatory public awareness programs and activities. The much needed public pressure for the preservation of the green turtle specie and its habitat can only come if the public is aware of its existence and has the facility of access to its habitat to gain first hand experience of this wonderful gift of nature. Public failure to understand and care about this critically important green turtle nesting habitat and its conservation needs will result in fewer options to conserve the specie.
Shehri – CBE would therefore focus its two years program on the following two critical thematic areas essential for ensuring integrated management for sustainable green turtle populations in the project area.
Developing effective tools, mechanisms and procedures for enabling proper habitat protection (Landuse Management)
Developing and implementing programs and activities for meaningful public awareness and participation through education and Model Certification Programs for Environmental Stewardship
Protection of critical green turtle habitat through environmentally sound landuse management
The only form of continued human habitation in the beach area itself is related to the usage of beach huts. As has been indicated earlier, huts are occupied both during daytime and in the night. Greater use percentage wise, is during the day. Daytime habitation results in non conducive activities such as spread of beach litter/garbage, public interference with eggs collection/hatching process during turtle nesting season. On the other hand, night time usage poses more direct threats to the unhindered and safe use of beaches as nesting/hatching sites for the turtles. These threats are manifested in the use of lighting and noise generation. The beach huts themselves are encroaching on nesting sites and reducing public access.
The Hut Lease Deed serves as the most effective legal and regulatory tool available for ensuring that both the physical entity of the beach hut and the human use of the facility are compatible with the requirements of habitat/specie conservation. The Hut Lease Deeds as they are being implemented, by both the KPT and the CDGK are totally bereft of even the basic provisions of environmental controls. As such, in the absence of effective regulatory controls, there is little chance of ensuring the protection and conservation management of the turtle nesting/hatching habitat. Little wonder that the most potent threat faced today by the green turtles in the project area is alteration of their habitat minus environmental controls, which if not checked, could render it unsuitable and inhospitable to nest in the future.
Land use status of surrounding localities
Worth considering also, is the issue of the landuse status of the area in the immediate vicinity of the beaches. The impact of the local fishing community on the green turtles has already been discussed. It may also be noted that the project area was designated as Future Urban Beaches in the Karachi Coastal Recreation Development Plan 1990-2000, prepared by the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) Master Plan & Environmental Control Department (now merged within the CDGK) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements). To this date, this report remains the most comprehensive and important document of reference for enforcement of environmental control measures and their relation to coastal development imperatives for Karachi City.
It was mentioned in the report that these beaches are located close to areas which will soon receive urban development as Karachi continues to expand. Under the classification of Environmental Planning Zones, the area was designated as a Conservation Area and classified as being an area considered sufficiently ecologically interesting or important as a natural resource to restrict development to a level which does not alter the ecological balance – condition to be closely monitored. In the Sandspit beach no infrastructure development but access was allowed while in the Hawkesbay beach limited and controlled infrastructure development and access was allowed.
Presently, while hut habitation patterns are found detrimental to the requirements of maintaining the conservation and ecological balance of the area, recent development activities in the vicinity of the project area (as predicted in the KDA/UNDP report) are also posing potential threats to the ecological viability of the project area. Hawkesbay Scheme 42 (see map) is presently being developed. Also included in the development program is an ambitious Resettlement Program for displaced communities of the Lyari Expressway Project. This influx of people and communities is likely to add new, as yet unspecified and critical stresses to the area ecology and wildlife, if the process is not effectively monitored and regulated. In order to integrate existing and future land use in the area with the needs of habitat/specie protection and to resist those actions for habitat alteration that do not comply with sound principles of sustained management, it is felt that the project will strategize and implement its activities on both the above discussed land use consideration, namely:
Landuse management/habitat protection in the beach area
Landuse management/habitat protection in the project area vicinity
Landuse management/habitat protection in the beach area
In consultation with KPT, Manora Cantonment Board and the CDGK, a process of review and evaluation of Hut Lease Deeds will be initiated. This consultative dialogue process will be supplemented with comprehensive surveys and assessment of the socio-economic and ecosystem/habitat conservation management requirements of the project area by making use of state of the art analytical tools for social surveys such as the Statistical Program for Social Surveys (SPSS), with particular reference to the conservation needs of turtle nesting habitats. Critical and highly sensitive nesting sites along with the existing and potential threats will be further investigated and linked with the consultative dialogue process to incorporate desirable environmental control and habitat protection controls, and measures in the Hut Lease Deed.
To ensure compatibility of land usage with conservation needs (based on the results of the preliminary surveys/consultations), following habitat protection measures are being suggested for incorporation in the Hut Lease Deeds:
Land use control and facilitating public access
Appropriate limits to usage of land, both horizontal (land occupancy) and vertical (height) considerations to be established and incorporated. In this connection, the need of ensuring the true Public Beach status of the project area is essential to increasing public pressure for area conservation. The strategy for restructuring the beach huts may include filling in gaps between existing beach huts with new huts in some areas, converting the single rows of huts into multiple rows or clusters in other areas, and removing huts entirely in some places. In a few selected places, large contiguous huts may be removed to yields truly public beaches, which can then be provided with public conveniences and collective recreational facilities. Beach hut owners then displaced can be compensated by providing attractive plots in other suitable location. Similar strategy can be adopted for the protection and conservation management of highly sensitive turtle nesting habitats (e.g.declaration as sensitive ecological reserves). The actual waterfront free of development can be widened by gradually shifting remaining huts behind the crest of the sand dunes at times when their leases are renewed.
Prohibition/restriction of beach hut use during peak turtle nesting season
Another option that can be explored is to either totally prohibit or severely restrict the use of beach huts in the peak turtle nesting season (September - November). It is possible that proper regulation of prescribed environmental control measures may become difficult when night time usage of huts takes place, which in turn conflicts with the most critical time of green turtle nesting process. If usage of huts is prohibited or restricted, compensation can be offered by arranging Turtle Watch programs during this time period (to be discussed in detail later). This strategy could have a double benefit i.e. protection of habitat/specie while increasing the level of public awareness and interest. Extensive analysis of beach habitation patterns - peak use months and low use months, night time use compared to day time use etc. will be carried out to assess the viability and applicability of this option, in consultation with the land owning/regulatory agencies and hut owners.
Introduction of lighting regulations is essential to facilitating the continued and sustainable use of the beaches by the nesting green turtles and for the protection of the hatchlings. Review of such measures/regulations as they have been enforced in other parts of the world will be done before incorporating such measures in the Hut Lease Deeds, coupled with sound and effective monitoring and surveillance provisions.
Garbage / Predator Control
A comprehensive garbage / predator control and management program will be developed as part of the project. The Green Turtle Environmental Stewardship Committee will be responsible for managing regular beach cleanup and predator control activities in co-ordination with the local town and union council administrations. This program will also be linked through stipulations incorporated in the Hut Lease Deeds, identifying and establishing responsibilities of the hut owners.
Concept of Environmental Stewardship – Certified Chowkidars
A totally new, pioneering and innovative concept to be introduced through this project will be the designation of the role of Environmental Stewards for the hut owners, based on the concept of ECOMOST (European Community Model of Sustainable Tourism), which promotes the concept of Tourist Resort Operators in Sensitive Coastal Areas trained to act as environmental stewards. It has already been established that the Chowkidars represent the most critical human presence in the project area as far as the protection of the green turtle specie and its habitat is concerned. It has been seen that the Chowkidars that belong to the local community associated with green turtle and its habitat are a strong force in the depletion of green turtle populations in the project area. It has been learned through experience that where management projects have excluded local communities as agents in conservation, unsustainable management plans have sometimes resulted. Through this project, the hut Chowkidars will be trained in the basic conservation/management requirements of turtle conservation by the project proponents – Shehri-CBE (to be discussed in detail later). Chowkidars successfully completing the Training Program will be awarded Certificates in green turtle conservation, acceptable to and recognized by the relevant government agencies. Through incorporation of relevant additions in the Hut Lease Deed, it will be made mandatory upon the hut owners to only employ those Chowkidars who are in possession of the Certificate in green turtle conservation. This process will be linked with a basic education/awareness raising program for the hut owners (to be discussed in detail later)
If initially, it is not possible to get immediate official endorsement for this program from the hut leasing agencies, the program would be run on a voluntary basis with continuos dialogue and interaction with hut leasing agencies for gaining official endorsement for this innovative program.
Land use management/habitat protection in the project area vicinity
Land use management and habitat protection measures in the beach area will be correlated with assessment of other development activities in the vicinity of the project area. Consultative dialogues and programs with relevant agencies, organizations and communities will be extended to evaluate incorporation of suitable policy, management/monitoring mechanisms to facilitate sustainable and ecosystem sensitive development.
Some important guidelines which will determine the course of the interactive dialogue and consultation with relevant stakeholders may include:
Non coastal development should be located away from coastal ecosystems. In addition, to avoiding the unnecessary impact on coastal ecosystems, shoreline set-back or buffer zones should be established to avoid damage to development as a result of coastal natural hazards
If development must be situated in the coastal zone, it should be located and designed to avoid vulnerable coastal ecosystems and habitats
Development which must be located near vulnerable ecosystems or habitats should incorporate a buffer zone
Construction activity near important ecosystems should be accomplished during non-breeding and non-nesting seasons of sensitive species such as the green turtles.
Compensation for ecological losses should be required for development that must encroach on important coastal habitats. In kind replacement of lost habitat is the preferred type of compensation
Critical habitats and species for special protection or status should be designated
To cite an example, the Ministry of Forest & Wildlife, Government of Sindh, has recently announced that a Master Plan for the development of the coastal zone in Sindh will be prepared. Presently, the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the plan are being finalized by the Ministry and bids will later be invited from the private sector for the preparation of the plan. The impact of this plan and proposed projects on the beach project area habitat and green turtles will also be evaluated and discussions held with relevant agencies.
It has been established through experience all over the world that marine turtle management has to be incorporated into coastal management regimes to ensure that habitat quality and ecosystem functions are maintained.
Fruitful and encouraging preliminary consultations with both the CDGK and KPT have already been held with regards the projects landuse management/habitat protection strategies, plans and programs. Particularly encouraging have been the discussions and response received in relation to the prescribed amendments/additions in the Hut Lease Deeds.
Public Awareness, Information and Education – Certification Program
The second key component of the project relates to developing and implementing programs and activities that raise the level of public awareness, information and interest in green turtle conservation efforts. This component of the project will facilitate the establishment of systems and mechanisms for providing sustainable financial support to the project objectives and allow for continuous monitoring and evaluation of green turtle conservation efforts. The proposed activities will compliment the ongoing research and documentation work on green turtles by WWF Pakistan and SWD and will also add new dimensions to such work.
Shehri-CBE will implement all its activities related to this project component in the project area itself. Feasibility of three separate options are presently under consideration and evaluation - given below in the order of priority:
Development of a Green Turtle Center in the Hawkesbay beachfront, exclusively for this project and its continuation. (encouraging preliminary discussions in this regard have already been held with the city government and the corporate sector)
Coordinating with WWF Pakistan for use of their Wetland Centre facility. (Sandspit beach/backwaters)
Coordination with SWD for use of their research facility. (Sandspit beach)
The programs and activities will be carried out in the following areas of work:
Public Awareness, Education and Participation
Environmental Stewardship Certification Program and Specialized Training Courses / Seminars
Monitoring and Evaluation of Green Turtle Conservation efforts
Public Awareness, Education and Participation
In order to involve and engage the general public (special focus on school children) in the green turtle conservation and habitat protection efforts in a meaningful manner, separate set of activities and programs will be prepared and implemented for both the nesting season and for the remaining off season period of the year.
The base of activities (Green Turtle Center) will be equipped with audio visual facilities with specially prepared audio and video material on various aspects related to the life cycle of the green turtle and the threats it faces. The assistance of WWF Pakistan might initially be sought for making use of their informative material. In addition, physical Demo Kits will be prepared to educate the people on the turtle egg laying process. Other then providing information and education to the general public, such audio-visual and demo material will also be utilized as Teaching Aids in the implementation of the specialized training courses and environmental stewards certification program.(to be discussed in detail later)
A Portable Sea Turtle Exhibit will be prepared intended for use in classrooms and also for visitors to the Green Turtle Centre. The portable exhibit may include components such as:
Plastic Model of Green Turtle
Scripted Slide Show
A set of activities
Off Season Use of Green Turtle Center
The Green Turtle Center will serve as a museum on green turtles and public visiting/recreational outlet all around the year. However, in order to preserve and protect green turtle habitat, the center will be open for general public for only two days a week, while during the remaining five days, visits will be arranged exclusively for school children.
Green Turtle Nesting Season
Other then serving as a green turtle museum during the day time, special arrangements will be made during the night time for visitors (arranged visits) to view the turtle nesting/hatching process. An Observation Platform, equipped with night time viewing facilities will be prepared and escorted tours will be arranged, managed by trained guides. Special care would be taken not to disturb the nesting process. For this purpose, an orientation session will be arranged for the visitors prior to being taken to the Observation Platform on the proper procedures for turtle watching.
In order to support the objectives of informing and educating the public on green turtles and raising their level of interest in green turtle conservation efforts, the following efforts will also be made:
Preparation of informative booklets / brochures / turtle fact sheets (English/Urdu)
Preparation of model interpretive educational material (English/Urdu)
Preparation of green turtle souvenirs like T-shirts, mugs, stationary items etc.
Shehri-CBE will also initiate internship programs for students in green turtle conservation to seek support for sustaining the project activities and for investing in future green turtle activists. Volunteer programs will also be started whereby students and other environmental activists will help in coordinating the various project activities and serve as guides and demo/exhibit operators in the Green Turtle Center.
Development of Project Web-site
An interactive project web-site will be developed with the following objectives in mind.
Public information dissemination to institutions, agencies, media, etc. and for seeking participation in project activities.
Establishing linkages with other green turtle conservation programs taking place elsewhere in the world.
Environmental Stewardship Certification Program and Specialized Training Courses / Seminar
It is felt that the most critical element of the project, key to ensuring the sustainability of the green turtle habitat/specie protection in the project area is the training/certification and monitoring of hut owners/chowkidars as Green Turtle Environmental Stewards.
Environmental Stewardship Program
The Environmental Stewardship Program will be conducted in two separate categories:
Certification Program for Hut Chowkidars
Specialized training modules and manuals of guidelines and techniques in green turtle conservation and habitat protection will be prepared in Urdu and vernacular (Sindhi) languages. These documents will be supplemented with use of audio-visual and demo kits as teaching aids to conduct certification programs for the hut chowkidars. Literate chowkidars may be given additional training as Program Facilitators to counter the illiteracy factor, if encountered and prepare future trainers.
Awareness/Education Program for Hut Owners
Making use of the relevant textual and audio-visual informative material on green turtle conservation, orientation and awareness raising programs will be arranged for hut owners in order to enhance their own level of understanding on the issue and also to enable them to monitor more effectively, the work of the chowkidars. Such programs will be timed to coincide with the start of the green turtle nesting season.
Specialized Training Courses/Seminars
For stakeholders belonging to specific sectors and focus groups, specialized training courses and seminars will be arranged which will be tailored to meet the specific needs and requirements of such sectors as they impact on the project objectives. These sectors may include:
Area Union Councilors
Government Representatives of Regulatory Agencies
Local Fishing Communities on aspects such as safe fishing practices and use of Turtle Extruder Devices (TED’s)
|Mrs. Amber Alibhai|
206-G, Block 2, P.E.C.H.S, Karachi
SGP Country office contact
|Mr. Masood Lohar|
|Mr. Chatro Khatri|
House # 144, Defence Officers Housing Society, Phase 1
Hyderabad, Asia, 71000