Global network needed for ecological research in mountains

24 Oct 2010


(Kathmandu, Nepal and Nagoya, Japan)

Conservation scientists emphasised the importance of biodiversity management in mountain regions at Nagoya in a side event on ‘Transboundary cooperation for biodiversity conservation -- a strategy for an ecosystem approach and adaptation to climate change’. Developing a global network for long-term ecological research in mountain areas, combined with strong national institutions, is essential to reduce scientific uncertainty. The network will help to harmonise research protocols and standardise environmental monitoring to increase our understanding of changes and needs in the different mountain regions of the world.

The side event was co-organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Conservation Union - World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN-WCPA) during the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on 22nd October 2010 at Nagoya, Japan, to raise awareness among the international community of the role of ecosystem and landscape approaches for achieving global conservation targets in transboundary areas in the mountains.

Professor Christian Koerner, Chair of the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment, in his keynote address, drew attention to the fact that, “Mountains have always been a place of survival due to their topographic richness”. “The diversity of functions provided by the rich mountain biodiversity is as important as the diversity itself,” he added. Mountains provide opportunities for species to move vertically and horizontally and to adapt in response to climate change. However, some species are restricted to micro-climatic conditions, and those that cannot move further up are likely to be trapped and lost.

Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Director of Policy at UNEP, stressed the importance of the ‘ecosystem approach’ in biodiversity conservation and management. This approach, advocated by the CBD, looks at linkages between ecosystem resilience and the sustainable use of biodiversity for and by the people. He appreciated the joint ICIMOD and UNEP collaboration for a regional transboundary conservation initiative adopting the ecosystem approach in the Kailash Sacred Landscape, in cooperation with China, India, and Nepal.

Dr Penelope Figgis from IUCN-WCPA stressed the significance of habitat connectivity for maintaining a natural landscape, keeping the ecosystems intact, allowing species to move and survive, interlinking protected areas, and restoring landscapes by involving people across many tenures.

Dr Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD, emphasised the need for systematic generation of data through scientific monitoring. Highlighting the trans-Himalayan transect approach, he said, “The transect concept has enormous potential to meet the challenges of climate change, particularly in relation to adaptation and biodiversity conservation and management in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas.” The regional approach facilitated by ICIMOD can certainly achieve the long term goal of data generating and sharing, provided the countries across the Hindu Kush-Himalayas join hands. He advocated for a link between biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. Biodiversity is not hampering mountain communities; rather it is a prerequisite for strengthening their resilience. The Kailash Sacred Landscape programme aims at developing and testing this approach by implementing conservation and ecosystem management strategies, and enhancing climate change resilience of communities.  

Mr. Warren Evans, Director of Environment at the World Bank, in his closing remarks, again emphasised the urgent need for data from the mountain regions adding that, “The transect concept is a good way to fill the data gaps from the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region,”, and concluding, “Regional cooperation is expected to enhance the inter-sectoral policy coordination that addresses regional and transboundary issues.”

For more information please contact:
Dr Eklabya Sharma
Programme Manager
Environmental Change and Ecosystem Services (ECES)

Dr Nakul Chettri
Biodiversity Specialist
Environmental Change and Ecosystem Services (ECES)