Thar/Beijing, 5 January 2017- A detailed assessment was carried in the second phase of the research study entitled ‘Valuation of Ecosystem Services in Thar Coal Field’ from November 29, 2016 – December 10, 2016 in the Thar Coal Field, Pakistan.

This phase was a follow up of preliminary scoping study conducted in June 2016, in which the most important ecosystem services were identified and prioritized to be assessed. In the context of the impact of mining on provisioning ecosystem services in Thar, water scarcity is identified as a key factor hampering the development of the region. The changes in an ecosystem’s structure and function caused by surface mining activities are likely to affect the flow and values of ecosystem services across the entire landscape. Also, removal of vegetation and top soil leads to loss of carbon sequestration, erosion control impacting the drinking water quality and life-time of downstream infrastructure, groundwater recharge, among others.

Based on these initial assessment and outputs, this survey was conducted in 100 households of 9 villages. It served the purpose to assess the value of water services perceived by the households of local communities to enable enhanced flow and improved water services which can cater to the domestic needs of the local people as well as other services, such as crop production etc.

It is envisaged that the results of the second phase will help in assessing environmental values of water services in Thar, based on the community-demand-driven approach; realize the role of different socio-economic variables that can influence the choices of water services among rural communities and its linkages to the provision of other ecosystem services; estimate welfare impacts based on individual’s preferences which would help identify the most appropriate technological choice and level of service to be provided for improved livelihoods.

The prime goal of the research study is to create a decision support framework for sustainable land-use planning and help inform planners and policy-makers to consider the economic, social and environmental implications of energy projects in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It will also help the people of Thar improve their standard of living through better access and reliable service provision of alternative sources of water.