1.1 OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF THE STRATEGY
The Nepal Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) records the commitment of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal (HMGN) and the People of Nepal to the protection and wise use of biological diversity and resources, on a sustainable basis, for the benefit of the People of Nepal and to honour the obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Nepal is signatory. Biological diversity in Nepal is closely linked to the livelihoods of many people and their economic development, and touches upon agricultural productivity and sustainability, human health and nutrition, indigenous knowledge, gender equality, building materials, climate, water resources and the aesthetic and cultural well being of the society.
The NBS sets objectives for the protection of biological diversity in Nepal and identifies or restates Government policy on natural resources and their diversity. The Strategy also makes it clear that this is a commitment of His Majesty’s Government as a whole and not of a single ministry. It therefore serves as a guide to all government organisations as well as the private sector and civil society.
The goal of the NBS is to provide a strategic planning framework for the conservation of biological diversity, the maintenance of ecological processes and systems, and the equitable sharing of the benefits accrued.
The NBS integrates the conservation and sustainable use of the diversity of biological resources with national development processes by:
Reflecting the current state of knowledge of biological resources in various Government strategies, academic institutions, development plans, programmes, institutional arrangements and policies, including those mentioned in the Master Plan for the Forestry Sector;
Identifying important policy and planning gaps, constraints on resources and facilities, implementation problems and current conservation practices and assessing further needs;
Identifying current pressures and threats on biodiversity;
Assessing the present and future significance and value of biodiversity to the Nepali people;
Identifying conservation priorities and a time-frame for research, planning, management and investments;
Assessing the costs of conserving biodiversity in Nepal; and
Developing long-term plans, implementation mechanisms, and monitoring and evaluation systems for biodiversity conservation.
The NBS addresses, in the first instance, those at Central Government level who are charged with the responsibilities for the protection and management of the natural environment and its biological resources. However, values and links to biological resources go well beyond the environment alone. The NBS therefore also addresses other sectors within the public administration framework, particularly those involved in land or water use and development, forestry, agriculture, urban development, industry and commerce, road works, rural development, mining, energy, wildlife, national planning, foreign affairs and economic management. It also addresses local government officials, community and indigenous group leaders, INGOs and NGOs, the private sector (particularly resource management and resource use companies), and other government agencies and organisations outside the government whose actions, however unwittingly, may have consequences for the natural environment and biological resources.
The outcomes of the NBS will be:
A stronger political commitment The NBS reflects the commitment of His Majesty’s Government and the people of Nepal.
Solid foundations An information management system, enhanced human and institutional capacity, clear policies and equitable legislation will be developed as the foundations for effective protection and management of biodiversity.
Detailed Action Plans Detailed action/implementation plans based on the goals and objectives of the NBS, will be developed, clearly identifying who will do what, when, where and how, with what human and institutional facilities and what financial resources.
Heightened public awareness Public awareness and sensitivity to biodiversity issues will be heightened through the better provision of information, greater opportunities for participation and the equitable distribution of the benefits of biodiversity conservation.
Effective evaluation system The NBS will establish a monitoring and evaluation process to gauge the success of implementation against predetermined indicators.
1.2 PRINCIPLES AND DEFINITIONS
The following principles (not in any particular order) have been adopted in the formulation of the NBS and will provide guidance to all those involved in the implementation of the Strategy:
Those ecosystems, species and biological resources which are indigenous as well as endemic and which together give Nepal its distinct and unique ecological character are paramount in the protection and management of Nepal’s biodiversity.
Poverty alleviation and economic and social development in rural areas are effective mechanisms for the sustainable use of biological resources and the conservation of biodiversity in Nepal.
The conservation of biodiversity may result in adverse impacts on some communities and individuals. Such adverse effects will be identified, minimised, and compensated.
The meaningful involvement and participation of local communities, indigenous peoples, conservation groups, and the public in general is crucial to the successful and long-term conservation of biological diversity.
Meaningful public participation is not possible without genuine public information designed to educate and inform at all levels, as appropriate.
Long-term sustainable use of biological resources can only be achieved if the benefits are shared fairly and equitably, and the innovations, practices, and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities are respected.
Biological diversity is best conserved in-situ through the conservation of natural ecosystems and habitats accompanied by the recovery and maintenance of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings. In accordance with Government policy, a landscape planning approach to managing biodiversity on an ecosystem level will be applied.
A comprehensive, representative and ecologically viable protected areas system, integrated with the management processes of other natural resource sectors including forests, agricultural lands, wetlands, rangelands and mountains, is crucial for the long-term in-situ conservation of biodiversity.
Human resources development, institutional capacity building and the empowerment of women leading to full participation at all levels, from policy development through planning to management and implementation, are essential to conserve and manage biodiversity effectively.
The identification of the status, true value and significance of Nepal's biodiversity and biological resources and their monitoring are central components to developing biological diversity conservation and sustainable use management plans. However, lack of information should not be considered as a reason to postpone action for conserving biodiversity.
1.2.2 DEFINITIONS AND CONCEPTS
The following definitions and concepts, some of which are from the Convention on Biological Diversity and other salient documents, have been adopted for this Strategy:
Biological diversity or biodiversity is the total variety of life on Earth. It encompasses the total number, variety, and variability of life forms, levels, and combinations existing within the living world. As such, biodiversity means the richness and variety of living beings from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.
Biological resources includes genetic resources, organisms or parts thereof, populations or any other biotic component of ecosystems with actual or potential use or value for humanity.
Biotechnology means any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof to make or modify biological products or processes for specific use.
Domesticated or cultivated species means species in which the evolutionary process has been influenced by humans to meet their needs.
Ecosystem diversity comprises the variety of habitats, the dynamic complexes of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment, which interact as a functional unit, and their change over time. Ecologists have identified 118 ecosystems in Nepal representing distinct biological communities with their associated flora and fauna.
Ex situ conservation means the conservation of components of biological diversity outside of their natural habitats.
Genetic diversity refers to the variation of genes and/or genomes within living organisms, that is, the genetic differences between populations of a single species and between individuals within a population. In other words, this covers distinct populations of the same species such as the hundreds of traditional rice varieties in Nepal.
Habitat means the place or type of site where an organism or population naturally occurs.
In situ conditions means conditions where genetic resources exist within ecosystems and natural habitats and, in the case of domesticated or cultivated species, in the surroundings where they have developed their distinctive properties.
In situ conservation means the conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats and the recovery and maintenance of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings and, in the case of domesticated or cultivated species, in the surroundings where they have developed their distinctive properties.
Landscape approach to planning and management of natural resources means a comprehensive, ecosystem-based approach, which takes into account living resources and includes local people and their wellbeing within the context of their physical environment and in harmony with natural cycles and processes.
Protected area means a geographically defined area that is regulated and managed to achieve specific conservation objectives.
Species diversity refers to the frequency and variety of species (wild or domesticated) within a geographical area. The total number of species in the world has been estimated to range from 5 to 30 million, out of which approximately 1.7 million have been described (WCMC 1992). There are different ways to describe species diversity. One often used to measure species diversity is species richness, which gives the total number of species within a particular sample area or geographical area. Species evenness, also known as taxonomic diversity, is expressed as the relationship of the number of species in different taxa, and indicates the relative abundance of taxa. For example, an island with two bird species and one lizard species has greater taxonomic diversity than an island with three bird species but no lizards (Raven 1992). Species dominance refers to the most abundant species (Botkin & Keller 1995).
Sustainable use means the use of components of biological diversity in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long term decline of biological diversity, thereby maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations.