All the work that is done to make a place worth visiting by the tourists comes under the umbrella of earth and environmental sciences.
by Fraaz Mahmud Kasuri
Tell us a few lines about yourself.
I did my first master degree in Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology from the University of Punjab, Lahore. After that I started working on Pakistan Motorway Project where I developed interest in tourism and, as a geologist, travelled all over Pakistan. In 1995, I joined the Institute of Geology, University of the Punjab as a lecturer. In 2002, I went to Canada for master and PhD from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada where I was also involved in various extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. I served as the president of Graduate Students’ Society (GSS) for three years and it was for the first time in the history of the University of Windsor that a Muslim Pakistani held such position. I was also a member of the senate and board of governors at the University of Windsor. In total, I served approximately 20 to 25 committees there at the university and I take it as a pride. In 2011, I returned to Pakistan and rejoined PU. In 2015, I became the principal at the College of Earth and Environmental Sciences and launched the first ever master in Geomatics degree in Pakistan. In 2016, I became the president of the Academic Staff Association here at PU that is the elected body of the entire teaching faculty at the university. In 2018, I was also elected as the member of the syndicate for three years. Besides all this, I have served the University of the Punjab as Controller of Examinations and Resident Officer-I as well.
How do you see the scope of earth and environmental sciences here in Pakistan?
Earth and environmental sciences have got huge scope here in Pakistan. A change in climate has already been observed all over the world and Pakistan is one of those 10 countries which are being affected by it the most. In such an emergency situation, earth and environmental sciences have become really important to educate and train the people in this regard.
What is your contribution to the earth and environmental sciences?
Well! I always prepare myself to contribute anything to this field as I take it as a responsibility. So far, I have written 125 research articles, have produced three PhDs and have supervised at least 134 MPhil theses. In Canada, my name is mentioned in one of the text books of remote sciences.
What connection is there between environmental sciences and tourism?
Both go hand in hand. Tourists always prefer visiting a clean and green place and to make a place clean and green we need earth and environmental sciences. We have a lot of places here in Pakistan that are naturally beautiful but nothing has been done to transform them into tourist attractions. So, all the work that is done to make a place worth visiting by the tourists comes under the umbrella of earth and environmental sciences.
Where are the students from this department employed?
Pakistan is a developing country. We don’t hire professionals even for the most important and sensitive tasks. In foreign countries, one cannot start any business without conducting the environment impact assessment study that is done by the environmental scientists. Principally, Earth and Environmental Sciences experts must be employed at industrial estates, forests and in housing development sector. They are also required to construct roads and parks. All the dengue inspectors and health & safety officers are also hired from this very sector.
How can a lay man contribute to the environment?
A lay man must be aware of his basic duties towards environment. By avoiding littering and keeping the things clean, a lay man can really make a difference.
How do you see COTHM playing its role in tourism?
I think that credit goes to COTHM because, before the establishment of COTHM, nobody knew about tourism. Only those having foreign exposure might have some idea about tourists and tourism. Institutes like COTHM are preparing the students to move ahead in this field in a practical way.
Why are environmental sciences important in our lives?
Environmental sciences are very important in our lives because we cannot live without clean air and water. And to keep both these things clean we need environmental sciences in our lives.
Is there any significant research about the environmental sciences going on in Pakistan?
Obviously! We have already done research in the areas of air pollution, water pollution and solid waste management and now we are working on how to produce energy from the waste. This year we won a grant from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for reducing winter smog from Pakistan. Currently, we are working on how to clean the smoke coming out of the brick kilns.
Are you planning any research conference in this regard?
Of course, this year we conducted a research conference on “Energy Crisis in Pakistan and their Solutions” in which at least 100 research papers were presented. Last year, we conducted the first international conference on “Emerging Trends in Environment” in which almost 300 research papers were presented. In 2019, we are planning a joint research conference with COTHM on tourism and hospitality in Pakistan.
Any message for HP readers?
You should be law-abiding citizens and must take care of the rules and regulations in your lives. You should also be careful towards environment and must play your part in keeping the climate clean.