Wise use of wetlands

04 Sep 2008


The Himalayan Wetlands Initiative Strategy constituted

Wetlands are the most productive ecosystems on earth, have the richest biodiversity, and serve very vital functions. They provide habitats for many endangered wildlife species and retain water and mitigate floods, recharge and purify groundwater, and play a central role in the economies of communities of the Himalayan region. They have also been the source of inspiration and cultural and spiritual values for humankind for millennia.

In a ‘Regional Technical Workshop on the Himalayan Wetlands Initiative’ held in Kathmandu, Nepal, representatives from six countries – Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan –  the RAMSAR Convention Secretariat for Wetlands, Wetlands International, WWF, IUCN and ICIMOD met for three days from 1-3 September  to discuss the importance of conserving and facilitating sustainable use of the region’s valuable wetlands.  The workshop was organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and co-hosted by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, representing the host country.

During the workshop’s inaugural session, RAMSAR representatives and ICIMOD experts emphasised that water resources in the form of snow and ice are threatened by climate change, and can potentially lead to reduced water availability in rivers in the dry season. “Therefore the importance of wetlands to sustain livelihoods and provide water resources and other ecosystem services is constantly increasing.” 

This contention was supported by Mr. Ananda Pokhrel, Secretary of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation who, during the same session,  said:  “The loss of glaciers in the Himalaya will cause significant decrease in the availability of freshwater in the whole region, which will have adverse effects on wetland ecosystems and people dependent on them.” Various studies in fact suggest that warming in the Himalayan region has been much greater than the global average over the last 100 years.

Therefore, a Himalayan Wetlands Initiative Strategy for the sustainable use and conservation of wetlands in the region is of critical importance. The workshop discussed and agreed on such a strategy, which will support the implementation of the RAMSAR convention on wetlands among countries sharing the Himalayan region - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan and Tajikistan. Once approved by member governments of the region, the strategy will be presented at the next 10th International Conference on Parties (COP 10) of the RAMSAR Convention for Wetlands, in Changwon in South Korea in October 2008.

For further information contact
Mr. Valdemar Holmgren
Wetlands Specialist
Integrated Water and Hazards Management/ICIMOD
Khumaltar, Lalitpur, GPO Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: +977-1-5003222, Fax: +977 1 5003299
Email: vholmgren@icimod.org

Mr. Jhamak B. Karki
Under Secretary (Technical), Ecology Section
Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, DNPWC
Babar Mahal, GPO Box 860, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: + 977-1-4227926 / 4220912 / 4220850
Email: jbkarki@dnpwc.gov.np