Planet Earth: Our Loving Home
Save the Environment Afghanistan – Working to Restore Nature’s Balance (In Dari)      
Today’s Planet Earth: Our Loving Home will be presented in Dari and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Green-going viewers, welcome to another edition of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home on Supreme Master Television, where we’ll visit the beautiful country of Afghanistan and learn about the environmental challenges the nation faces, as well as the unique methods being used to conserve its ecosystems, including its indigenous plants and animals.

This week our guests are Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar, a Senior Environmental Advisor to Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency and founder of the Afghanistan-based environmental- preservation group, Save the Environment Afghanistan (SEA) and Qais Agah, who is SEA’s Environmental Education Technical Advisor and Cranes Researcher.

SEA is the only Afghan national organization working for protection for the environment, sustainable-resource development and conservation of biodiversity in Afghanistan.

SEA was founded by my colleagues and I in 1998, and we are working closely with the government, with different donor agencies, other NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on the environmental- protection side. They’re two offices, one in Northern Afghanistan and another in Southern Afghanistan to look after the wildlife issues, protected areas and also wetlands.

In recent times Afghanistan has experienced the ravaging impacts of accelerating climate change, which have caused tremendous hardship both for its people and wildlife.

During the last few years, we see visible changes in the climate. We see the rise of temperatures here, we see floods, we see avalanches, we see the degree of snow and the degree of rain. There is untimely rain sometimes. And during wintertime, we had a good snow 10-years ago or 15-years ago, in some parts up to 50-centimeters.

But now, even in a big winter for two to three months, we don't have snow, (there is only a) very small snow cover here. This is all the changes we see in climate and also the temperature. The water rises, and sometimes we have floods, sometimes which is untimely, and sometimes we even don't have water for irrigation, because whenever the farmers need irrigation water, there is no water. This is all the changes and the impacts we have.

Still we are facing the big drought, especially in the southern part of Afghanistan. And another impact which I see, it's in the southern part. I just returned the day before from the southern part (of Afghanistan), and I see the dust storms and the vegetation cover loss, and we see there is no water.

There is only one canal that comes from the Arghandab River, which is not sufficient enough (of a water source) for all people. And also we have lost some of our indigenous vegetation cover in the desert ecosystem. This is because of untimely rain, or no rain or no snow.

Due to melting snow and glaciers, avalanches are occurring more frequently, causing devastation and loss of human life.

The biggest impact of this climate change, was in northern provinces, we lost more than 180 people last year because of these avalanches. And this was the first in the history of Afghanistan in the last 60 years, Afghanistan needs to be in a very, very strong position and (take) very strong action to combat climate change.

Along with global warming, the rapid rate of biodiversity loss in the country is also a deep concern, as Mr. Malikyar explains.

We have lost much of our biodiversity, and it is in a position that if we neglect it now, then for the future we would not have any biodiversity. We have started to work and protect the remaining part. But during the last 30 years maybe, or more, we have lost... Let me give you an example. We have lost 2% of our national forest cover. There was 3.1% (cover) in the 1970s, and now it is 1.2%.

This is an example of one of our resources which we lost. And also for wildlife, illegal hunting is something which has continued from the 1970s to now. And every day we lose two species, or two (types of) wildlife. Within 30 years, just imagine how many of them would be lost. But on the wildlife side, we have lost many of these mammals and wildlife species in the mountain areas.

Because of hunting, because of encroaching, and also the fighting, they have migrated to other countries even. But we have lost much. You see, most wildlife are migratory species, even in their habitat. In case their habitat is good, good nature, there is no disturbance, there is no threat, they stay here. If there is a threat, they leave the habitat and migrate. In the 1970s Afghanistan had more than 400 Snow leopards, but now it's not more than 80.

Given the serious environmental issues that Afghanistan faces, steps are being taken to inform the public and raise awareness so as to protect nature and the nation’s animal co-inhabitants. One way in which Save the Environment Afghanistan is reaching out is by developing a curriculum on ecological issues for schools and universities in partnership with the country’s Ministry of Education.

We have environmental education programs, formal and informal. In formal, we’re developing a comprehensive, environmental curriculum that includes principles of environment and natural resources and incorporate these principles into schools and university curriculum. This is one part of environmental education we have been doing, and the other part is informal education that includes training, seminars, workshops, and publications.

The SEA project with USAID, we’re doing this training. We have been conducting the trainings in mosques and schools, local clinics, with the mullahs, local leaders, and then they will conduct these trainings and will transfer this message to their local people to ban hunting and conserve the wildlife species.

Religious leaders are also being made aware of the importance of environmental conservation so that they will inform the public about this issue from a religious perspective.

So the Holy Qur'an includes several verses, conservation verses, and other verses that (we) try to persuade people through these verses to conserve their wildlife and environment. So we put out the verses from the Holy Qur'an translated in Dari and Pashto and local language Uzbeki and then we put it in posters with different pictures and then we’ll train the mullahs.

The mullahs, when they receive the training, because people are very attracted to the verses so they can learn very well and they will use these verses to protect their environment. God says that I send the water to the Earth to grow the plants. These plants should be used for the human, so please do not waste the water and just work to grow these plants.

We are working on a booklet called Environment and Islam. We collected several verses from the Holy Qur'an and translations to this booklet, and we will distribute (it) to the schools, students, university students and the mullahs in the community.

Near Kabul there are 90 hectares of biologically rich wetlands that are home to migratory and indigenous birds. Save the Environment Afghanistan, in collaboration with the national government, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations has started a conservation project in this precious habitat.

The problem for this wetland, which has lost some parts of its potential, is during the loss of control over the areas, and during the fighting in 1990s to 2001, most of these wetlands were occupied by residential areas and many people came and made houses. And now it looks difficult to relocate these houses from around the wetlands.

But seasonally, it keeps the potential. Keeping that in mind, the government, and I was also involved with that, with the financial support of the Asian Development Bank and other organizations, we made two observation towers in two sites. This is just for the students, for the academia, who want to keep an inventory of birds around this area. They can come easily and go there and even they can count the nests from that site, and they have different facilities to see the birds. And also they can identify the birds, which birds are there.

Our purpose was for education, because there was a center made by the United Nations there, an education center. When people come here for recreation or for study, they go to the education center. They can come to the towers and see birds.

The primary cause of climate change, biodiversity loss and other urgent environmental problems is animal agriculture. If every individual makes the noble choice to adopt a plant-based diet, a better world, free of hunger and climatic disasters is truly possible. To close, here is Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar’s message to the world.

I need the world community to support Afghan children, Afghan women, and also the whole Afghan population to keep their environment clean and to be aware of the environmental values and to contribute to the reduction of climate change impacts to the region and globally.

As far as God Almighty has created us, He has advised us to keep the nature in balance. And I hope the whole population, the global population, to keep this world, (follows) this advice of God and keeps the balance of nature, not to employ all resources, keep the resources for the future generations. And support those countries which cannot support themselves at the moment in capacity, technically, economically and different aspects.

Our sincere thanks Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar and Qais Agah for providing a brief introduction on the state of the environment in Afghanistan and what SEA is doing to safeguard and restore the nation’s ecosystems. Through the leadership of individuals like yourself, may Afghanistan soon regain its previous balance of nature, thus benefitting all life in this ancient land.

For more information on Save the Environment Afghanistan, please visit

Thank you for joining us on Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. May we soon live in a world of ever greater happiness and love.

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