The Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife (SSCW) and in cooperation with the University of Damascus and with patronage from the Ministry of Local Administration and Environment (MLAE) held on March, 5, 2017 at the auditorium of Faculty of Sciences- Damascus University an event to cover the topic: “The effects of the on-going unrest in the country on Wildlife and prospects for possible mitigation measures for wildlife” under the theme:
“Listen to young voices and get them involved”
The event included some introductory speeches from Ministry and University representatives, and was followed by lectures and dialogue about the important role of youth in the protection and rehabilitation of the national wildlife and biodiversity that are affected and harmed due to the consequences of destructing activities from the current unrest in the country. The speeches highlighted the different components of biodiversity and stressed on collaboration among various concerned stakeholders to revert these results on wildlife and biodiversity conservation.
Initiatives that were launched by MLAE with involvement of SSCW regarding the role and importance of getting country’s youth actively involved in protection and rehabilitation of wildlife due to the huge loss in biodiversity, natural resources, habitats and wildlife as a result of the current crisis in the country were highlighted. It was stressed that there was hope that these conservation activities will continue with previous work pioneered by SSCW work and achievements in carrying out activities concerning wildlife protection in various parts of the country as a national NGO working basically on a collaborative perspective with all concerned parties and locals to accomplish its goals and vision relating to wildlife conservation.
The talks were various and covered topics related to the event of International Wildlife Day. These include a talk presented about the recent and current status of wild mammals in Syria and improvement of their conservation conditions in the past as was highlighted by Dr Ahmad Daoud. The threats imposing on biodiversity as well as the importance of responding to these threats and dangers and adopting right methods of protection for biodiversity and the involvement of youth in such actions were presented by Dr. Maher Kabakibi (Damascus University). Moreover, Dr. Nazir Khalil (from SSCW) talked about the status of wild arthropods in Syria and showed briefly how to conduct surveys on these species and ways to improve the status of arthropod species within the general scope of improving biodiversity conservation.
Dr. Mouina Badran (SSCW board member) presented the current status of biodiversity of marine mammals, fish as well sea turtles and explained their presence at Syrian coast and the severe effects of country’s crisis on them, especially illegal fishing and killing by fishermen and other illegal methods and that there is an urgent need to protect them and the youth would play a crucial part in adopting such protection measures. Mrs. Aroub Al-Masri, talked about amphibians and reptiles surveys and studies, and highlighted difficulties and challenges to improve conservation of wild amphibian and reptiles at different parts of the country. This was followed by a talk about Syrian wetland by Eng. Ibrahim Ali (from SSCW) and importance of this habitat for wildlife conservation and focused on projects and activities conducted recently by SSCW in the only RAMSAR wetland site in Syria (Al-Jabboul lake) and highlighted the role of the local community in enforcing the protection and their contribution as part of collaborative approach adopted with funding from GEF.
Eng. Bilal Al Hayek (from SSCW) talked about objectives of sustainable development-2030 relating to wildlife and presented the goals, steps, activities and plans to achieve these goal on the national and the regional levels, also he drew attention to the enormous task and work to be done regarding achievement of such goals. He also referred to the initiatives and actions launched by MLAE to strengthen the role and active involvement of youth in conservation of wildlife and biodiversity. This was followed by a talk from Eng. Mayada Saad (SSCW) where she explained the negative, catastrophic effects and consequences of the ongoing unrest in the country on wildlife and also referred to the important role and active participation that youth can play in rehabilitation of damaged habitats, restoring natural resources, biodiversity and wildlife as well as carrying out conservation activities. Miss. Aseel Al Azaat (University of Damascus) talked briefly about risks and dangers threatening wild medicinal plants in the country due to habitat destruction and unsustainable harvesting and over-collection of plants due to lack of control on natural areas and stressed on ways to conserve these species by optimal and sustainable use in order to protect and conserve this valuable natural wealth for use for the future generation.