Meet mangrove queen – Muqaddas Tahir

In Local
April 08, 2024



KARACHI:

“It pains me to witness deforestation, as people are cutting down their own guardians. This practice must be halted permanently, as we cannot afford the consequences.”

Muqaddas Tahir, a 21-year-old woman from Ibrahim Hyderi, known as the ‘mangrove queen’, believes that mangrove trees along the coast are being cut down daily. “We don’t plant regularly but rather cut them down without pause,” she remarked.

As an ordinary girl in 2022, she joined a vocational centre of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), and within a few months, became a member of its youth group, attending awareness sessions on various issues, including climate change and the role of mangroves. “It changed my perspective on our environment. I realised that people were not taking care of these magnificent trees,” she narrated.

Gradually, Tahir began her activism for the preservation of mangroves and cannot recall how or what earned her the title ‘mangrove queen’. “My profile and activism have also been recognised in Germany,” she added. “They also refer to me as the mangrove queen,” Tahir said, mentioning a German magazine where her story was published.

Sharing the condition of deforestation in areas near Rehri Goth and Ibrahim Hyderi, Tahir mentioned visiting an island in December during her mangrove plantation drive. “We revisited in February and were shocked to find several trees had been cut down,” she said. However, she added, “Our trees survived.”

She acknowledged that it was not feasible for her to stop those who cut down trees. “At the very least, I can mobilise youth and thereby work towards realising my dream of conservation.”

Read also: Mangrove forest near Manora felled

Tahir expressed her desire to continue her regular plantation drives but lamented the lack of plants and nearby nurseries. “Arranging them requires significant effort, time, and money,” she explained.

She noted that people in her area understood the value of the trees but were unable to protect them. “It’s the government’s responsibility,” she emphasised.

Commenting on the young lady’s active role in mangrove conservation, Mehran Shah, the PFF chairman, stated that only youth could save them. “We support and encourage them to learn about the environment,” he said, mentioning that around a hundred youngsters, including girls, were actively raising their voices for mangrove protection.

Shah questioned the effectiveness of occasional plantation drives, despite the government having planted hundreds of thousands of mangrove trees in coastal areas, especially in Keti Bandar. He urged for stricter enforcement of laws to prevent further deforestation.

Tahir suggested that the cutting of mangroves was illegal and emphasised the need for the government to implement laws to prevent further cutting.

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