• 25 years of conserving biodiversity in the Hindu Kush Himalayas- By Janita Gurung ,Pradyumna J.B. Rana

    25 years of conserving biodiversity in the Hindu Kush Himalayas- By Janita Gurung ,Pradyumna J.B. Rana

    By Janita Gurung , Pradyumna J.B. Rana

    This year marks a quarter century of the ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) - an agreement among 196 countries to conserve the earth’s biological diversity while ensuring it is used sustainably and that the benefits from using genetic resources are shared fairly.

    All eight countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east, are signatories to the convention. The HKH region hosts four biodiversity hotspots - the Himalaya, the Indo-Burma, the mountains of southeast China, and the mountains of Central Asia - that are home to species such as the critically endangered Himalayan brown bear and the white-rumped vulture.

    Before 2000 there was significant biodiversity loss because of poaching, habitat loss, and unsustainable extraction of natural resources. This led to conservation action, which has resulted in noteworthy success stories.

    Reclaiming endangered species

    The giant panda, the Royal Bengal tiger and one-horned rhinoceros are some of the most famous species in the HKH. Their populations reached alarming lows by the 1990s, but recovered because of habitat conservation, stringent law enforcement to tackle poaching and illegal trade, and conservation outreach and education programs. The one-horned rhinoceros and giant panda were downgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in 2008 and 2016.

    While the Royal Bengal tiger is still endangered, its population has increased significantly. Park officers, law enforcement, local communities, and conservation organisations, such as Project Tiger in India and Terai Arc Landscape in Nepal, have helped. Bhutan” network of biological corridors linking nine protected areas allows tigers to traverse from lowland forests to high altitudes above 4,000 meters.

    Local communities as agents of change

    Women and men in the HKH benefit from biodiversity, through food, medicine, shelter, forage, clothing, and ecosystem services. For instance, Vaidyas and Amchis use herbs and animals parts to prepare medicines for several types of ailments.

    More than a third of the total land in the HKH is protected. But conservation works best when local communities are involved. Buffer zones and conservation areas in the region” 488 protected areas engage local women and men in conservation. For example, there are community snow leopard rangers in Pakistan, Himal Rakshaks in Sikkim and community-based anti-poaching units in Nepal” Terai.

    Biodiversity-based tourism is a major source of income in many parts of the HKH. Several thousand tourists come every year to the region to see Band-e-Amir National Park in Afghanistan, Inle Lake with its stilt houses and floating gardens in Myanmar, China” Hongyuan Grassland, India” Valley of Flowers, the naturally dammed lakes and black-necked cranes in Bhutan, the markhor in Pakistan, and the one-horned rhino in Nepal.

    Biodiversity and local communities benefit from tourism income in protected areas: tourism generates cash for local communities and park fees are ploughed back for biodiversity conservation and community development.

    Local communities are now benefiting further from the use of genetic resources through the CBD” Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Bill, which acknowledges the right of indigenous people over their biological resources and traditional knowledge. Seven of the eight HKH member countries have signed the bill, and six have ratified it.

    New challenges in the coming decades

    The past 25 years of biodiversity conservation have produced several success stories. Governments, law enforcement agencies, communities, conservation organizations and the private sector have all played an important role. The coming decades, however, will pose new challenges. For instance, the increasing human population and decreasing wildlife habitats will cause more conflict between the two.

    The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has recently identified pressing issues for the Asia and the Pacific, which includes the HKH region. Invasive alien species, climate change and associated extreme events, and increasing waste and pollution are driving biodiversity loss. Biodiversity is extremely important for livelihoods and sustainable development in the HKH region, and collective efforts for its conservation will continue to be a priority in the coming years.

    (Janita Gurung is Program Coordinator- Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI)/ICIMOD. Pradyumna J.B. Rana is Research Associate- Ecosystem Services at ICIMOD. )

    May 22, 2018

     

    • News -in- Brief

      NepalTourNews—-

      Visitor arrivals up in Chitwan

      Chitwan - A total of 145,707 tourists -112,560 foreigners and 36,053 domestic visitors - have visited the Chitwan National Park and surrounding community forests in the 11 months of the current fiscal year, according to CNP. The number of arrivals was recorded at 139,978 in the last fiscal year. This is an increase of 4.09 per cent, compared to 12 months of last fiscal year. The number of tourist arrivals is expected to increase after the completion of 36-km Narayangadh-Mugling road upgradation.

      Third Himalayan Travel Mart in June , 2019

      The 3rd Himalayan Travel Mart (HTM) has been scheduled to be held next year from June 7-9, 2019. HTM has become a unique and popular B2B event facilitating a platform for networking, promotion, shared knowledge and valuable insights, business opportunities amongst the participants and stakeholders. The mart recently concluded its first two editions with the participation of 225 foreign delegates from 53 different countries and 170+ foreign delegates from 36 countries in the year 2017 and 2018 respectively.

      MoCTCA formed a taskforce to investigate trekking irregularities

      The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation ( MoCTCA ) has formed a taskforce to investigate into the claims for insurance based on fake documents about the emergency rescue of trekkers from high altitudes. The 5- member task force has been given the deadline of June 25 to carry out the investigation into fake documents of trekkers. Some of the trekking agencies, helicopter companies and hospitals are said to be involved in cheating the trekkers making them ill during their trek to different parts of the country.

      Government plans to regulate casino industry

      The government is planning to regulate the country’s casino industry through the enactment of a new law. The Ministry is set to submit a draft of Casino Bill 2018 to the Cabinet as the agency seeks to rein in existing casinos that continue to operate without paying a dime to the government.

      Under Nepal’s Casino Regulation 2013, operators need to shell out NPR20 million (US$185,700) to obtain a casino operating license. Casino operators must pay half of the casino operating license fee when renewing their license annually, The Kathmandu Post reported.

      Casinos in Nepal are also required to pay another NPR30 million ($279,300) fee annually under Nepal’s Financial Act. There were suggestions to increase this fee by one-third for financial year 2018-2019.

      TAAN organized Second Cleaning and Awareness Campaign

      Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) organized 2nd Cleaning and Awareness Campaign at Swayamnbhunath area on June 5 , on the occasion of 44th World Environment Day.  TAAN started this campaign on March from Thamel area. The global theme for the World Environment Day 2018 is “Beat Plastic Pollution”, if you can’t reuse it, refuse it.

      Annapurna Marathon -2018

      Tribhuvan Army Club athlete and Olympian Hari Kumar Rimal won the title of the Annapurna Marathon this year. Rimal completed the 42.195km distance in four hours, 16 minutes and 48 seconds to finish first in the race. PurnaTamang came second in four hours, 17 minutes and 42 seconds, while fellow TAC athlete Homlal Shrestha finished third in four hours, 20 minutes and 38 seconds.

      A total of 61 athletes took part in the event. The race started from Annapurna Base Camp at an altitude of 4,130 metres and went through Machhapuchhre Base Camp, Bagar, Deurali, Sinuwa, Ghurjung, Tadapani, Bhaisikharka before ending at Ghandruk of Annapurna Rural Municipality.

       

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