Absence of an integrated/co-ordinated approach to management of biological resources
Lack of environmental awareness and sensitivity
Pressing need for subsistence and/or income generation
Lack of policies or strategies for biodiversity conservation
Low level of public information and participation
High incidence of poverty
It must be stressed that the above causal chain analysis is very preliminary, and the Nepal Biodiversity Strategy Implementation Plan will provide an opportunity for the analysis to be reviewed with the broad participation of stakeholders, including local communities. However, the results obtained above are very indicative of some of the origins of the threats to biodiversity in Nepal. These can be summarised as follows:
Low level of public awareness and participation
High population pressures and incidence of poverty
Lack of policies or strategies for biodiversity conservation
These and any other fundamental problems that are identified through a broader-based analysis hold the key to the successful conservation of biodiversity in Nepal. Some more proximate causes might attract higher priority for action for a number of reasons, and may well lead to an improved situation. However, until the fundamental problems and root causes are addressed, such successes are not likely to be sustainable and the problems will reappear.
5 STRATEGIES TO CONSERVE BIODIVERSITY
Despite several problems and constraints, Nepal has achieved some significant successes in the protection and management of its biodiversity. The NBS will be helpful in obtaining a more cohesive and strategic thrust and direction in meeting clear national objectives for conserving the country’s rich biodiversity. One fundamental element of this strategy is the consolidation and continuation of efforts that have been successful in the past; these are discussed first in this chapter. This chapter broadly highlights major strategies that Nepal will adopt to conserve, in the years to come, its exceptionally rich life spread over the different ecological realms.
5.1 Cross-Sectoral Strategies
5.1.1 Landscape Planning approach
The NBS will strive towards an improvement in the degree of representation and the effectiveness of the Protected Areas System and adjoining areas for the protection of biodiversity. The NBS recognises the need for a comprehensive approach that will aim to conserve forests, soil, water, and biological diversity while at the same time meeting the basic needs of people who are dependent on these resources for their livelihoods. To this end, the NBS has adopted the landscape planning approach to protect and manage biodiversity on a sustainable, long-term basis. Declaring buffer zones around national parks and reserves in view of developing compatible land use patterns adjacent to PAs to simultaneously address the growing needs of the people and the rapidly decreasing natural cover is an effective initiative in landscape conservation. Efforts will be made to link PAs with wildlife-friendly corridors.
5.1.2 Integrating local participation
It has been realised that conservation programmes will work only if the basic needs of local people are met, which include being able to grow enough food, effective health care, and basic education. Once these basic needs are met, local people may be responsive to conservation. However, communities in Nepal have a long history of protecting certain forested areas for their own benefit, and after the political change in 1990 and the introduction of democracy, decentralisation, and peoples’ participation in development activities increased. To enhance responsiveness and promote ownership of conservation programmes by communities, the active involvement of local people will be sought in conservation management systems.
5.1.3 Institutional Strengthening
The National Biodiversity Unit established under the MFSC will be strengthened to cover all forest biodiversity and to be integrated into cross-sectoral agencies/organisations, in particular with the Ministry of Agriculture. This latter needs to help develop a comprehensive database of Nepal’s agrodiversity.
5.1.4 In-situ Conservation
The most important means of conserving biodiversity is to conserve natural habitats that maintain and allow the recovery of viable populations of species naturally. As the primary approach for biodiversity conservation, in-situ conservation addresses the conservation of ecosystems, wild species, genetic diversity, human-created plant varieties and animal breeds. It also addresses the rehabilitation and restoration of degraded ecosystems, both within and outside protected areas, and the prevention, control and eradication of alien species that threaten ecosystems. In-situ conservation is more effectively maintained from a landscape planning approach. Priorities will be given to species richness, taxonomic diversity, and endemism.
5.1.5 Strengthening the National Biodiversity Unit
Systematic databases on conservation, utilisation, management, and monitoring have been prepared by various organisations. A high priority will be given to strengthening the existing National Biodiversity Unit and for full participation by all key stakeholders to bridge the information gap for comprehensive biological inventories and monitoring schemes.
5.1.6 Increasing Support for Biodiversity Research and Conservation
Large amounts of financial resources will be needed for biodiversity conservation. Since such expenditures are really investments for future ecological, economic and social security, especially in developing countries, high priorities will be given to increasing financial and technical support for biodiversity research and conservation. This can be done through partnerships and collaborative approaches with relevant line agencies. The CBD obligates developed countries to provide new and additional financial resources to developing countries and requires that this shall operate within a democratic and transparent system of governance.
5.1.7 Endorsing Indigenous Knowledge and Innovations
Humans are intimately linked to biodiversity, and any efforts to conserve biological diversity and the sustainable use of its resources must take into consideration human culture. Indigenous knowledge of biodiversity is a well organised, dynamic system of investigation and discovery that yields information beneficial to its long-term conservation. Indigenous knowledge and innovations pertinent to the conservation of biodiversity will therefore be fully acknowledged and used wherever possible, at the same time providing optimum benefit to local indigenous communities in a sustainable manner.
5.1.8 Cross-Sectoral Co-ordination and Implementation of Policies
Co-ordination and implementation of policies for conservation and sustainable use of biological resources requires their integration into national decisions. For this, Nepal will (a) develop anticipatory policies for the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components; (b) establish better co-ordination between relevant agencies and different levels of government; and (c) re-assess national income to take into account the depletion of biological resources.
5.1.9 Enhancing National Capacity
Biological research and conservation management cannot effectively take place without adequately trained human resources. Realising this, priority will be given to institution building, human capacity building, and the transfer of hard and soft technology to effectively conserve and utilise components of biodiversity.
5.1.10 Ex-situ Conservation and Biotechnology
Ex-situ conservation refers to the conservation of components of biodiversity outside of their natural habitats, particularly animal and plant species whose existence in their natural habitat is below the minimum viable population and whose survival is imperilled. Emphasis will be given to establishing new botanical gardens, zoos, gene banks, etc., in different eco-regions with legal provisions for exchanging materials (components of biodiversity) with relevant international institutions.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) allow private individuals/entities to own, control, regulate access to, and appropriate benefits accrued from a resource of their discovery/creation. The role of IPRs in biodiversity conservation is ensured through a number of treaties and conventions, including the CBD. Nepal will ensure the IPRs of farmers and local communities through appropriate strategies and legislation.
Similarly, farmer’s rights in Nepal will focus on rights arising from past, present and future contributions in conserving, improving and making available plant genetic resources, particularly those at the origin of diversity in Nepal. These rights will be vested in the international community as trustee for present and future generations of farmers and for supporting their continued contributions.
5.1.12 Biodiversity Prospecting
Biodiversity prospecting is the exploration of biodiversity for commercially valuable genetic and biochemical resources. Nepal needs to select national priority areas in bio-prospecting for focused research and development. For this, rules of conduct will be developed and enforced, and efforts will be made to control the export of large quantities of crude plants collected throughout the country for meagre quick profits. In addition, national and local capacities will be developed and international collaboration will be sought wherever possible.
5.1.13 Environmental Impact Assessment
The Environment Protection Act, 1996, and Environment Protection Regulations, 1997, obligate HMGN to undertake environmental impact assessments of its proposed projects that are likely to have significant impacts on biodiversity with a view to avoiding or minimising such impacts. Emphasis will be given to ensure effective implementation of existing rules and regulations regarding environmental impact assessments.
5.1.14 Women in Biodiversity Conservation
The vital contribution of women to the management of biological resources and to economic production generally has been misunderstood, ignored, or under-estimated. Rural women in Nepal are often the most knowledgeable about the patterns and uses of local biodiversity. Therefore, the role of women in biodiversity and natural resource management will be fully recognised and given their due consideration, and their participation in decision-making will be sought.
5.1.15 Developing Eco-tourism
Tourism in Nepal is concentrated mainly in a few protected areas (Royal Chitwan NP, Annapurna CA, Sagarmatha NP, and Langtang NP), which intensifies negative environmental impacts in these PAs. The potential for developing sustainable tourism in other PAs as well as other areas of natural and cultural heritage will therefore be explored and promoted. Efforts will also be made to seek maximum involvement of local people in promoting sustainable tourism.
5.1.16 Increasing Conservation Awareness
Biodiversity conservation demands public support and participation. An understanding and appreciation of the importance of conservation and sustainable use of biological resources is therefore crucial. For this, conservation awareness campaigns will be promoted through different media and fora, such as radio, newspapers, posters, workshops, seminars, and school curricula so that both managers and users of natural resources understand the linkages between conservation and sustainable use.
5.1.17 Biodiversity Registration
Biodiversity registration aims to: (a) document the rich traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, (b) share local knowledge of bioresources with other communities in the country and abroad for mutual benefit, and (c) conserve local traditional knowledge for the sustainable utilisation and equitable sharing of the benefits of natural resources through the active support and participation of local communities. National biodiversity registration will be initiated with recognition of indigenous knowledge, to avoid misappropriation of local farmers’ crop varieties and of all genetic resources, and to ensure equitable sharing of benefits in the future. The programme will in the long-run help to validate the information thus recorded, create a network of databases, provide pertinent information on trade and exploitation, and monitor biodiversity and management plans.