Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI)

Stretching along the southern side of Mount Kangchenjunga, the Kangchenjunga Landscape (KL) is one of the six transboundary landscapes identified by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region. It covers an area of 25,080.8 km2 and spreads across part of eastern Nepal (21%), Sikkim and West Bengal of India (56%) and the western and south-western parts of Bhutan (23%). At the heart of this landscape, lies Mount Kangchenjunga (8,586 m), the third highest peak in the world, and sustains many of the vital Himalayan rivers and crucial watersheds. Mount Kangchenjunga is considered sacred by local communities and is revered by Tibetan, Sikkimese, and Kiranti people.

The KL is part of a ‘Himalayan biodiversity hotspot’ harbouring a significant portion of the world’s biodiversity. With 19 established protected areas, comprising 30% of the landscape, it contains more than 4,500 species of plants including: 500 varieties of orchid, 40 varieties of rhododendrons, more than 160 mammal species, 580 bird species, and 600 butterfly species. The landscape serves as a contiguous habitat for many umbrella and charismatic species including snow leopard (Panthera uncia), red panda (Ailurus fulgens), takin (Budorcas taxicolor), Himalayan black bear (Ursus thibetanus), Himalayan musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster), tiger (Panthera tigris) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). It is also home to 7.2 million people, some of whom are from unique ethnic groups found nowhere else in the world such as the Lepchas, the Walungpas, and the Lhop Doyas. This important transboundary area provides valuable ecosystem services that support the wellbeing and livelihoods of people living in the landscape, as well as millions living downstream. 

Basic attributes of KL-Bhutan, KL-India, and KL-Nepal





Total area (sq km)

Percent of total area







Elevation range (masl)

95 – 5,640

40 – 8,586

100 – 8,586

Ecoregions (number)




Population (persons)




What Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) focuses on?

The Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) is a transboundary conservation and development programme jointly implemented by the government of Bhutan, India and Nepal which is facilitated and supported by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). The initiative emphasises the transboundary landscape approach advocated and promoted by the Convention on Biological Diversity, which recognises the importance of establishing habitat linkages among the protected areas, managing the ecosystems in entirety, and supporting the livelihoods of communities living in the KL. 

Conceived in 2012 to collaborate on common objectives towards effective conservation and sustainable use of resources within the landscape, the initiative has progressed through rigorous national and regional consultative processes aimed at developing both country, as well as regional level Feasibility Assessment Reports and Conservation and Development Strategies. Taking into account the need for regional cooperation, as well as the opportunity for socioeconomic development at the landscape level, a Regional Cooperation Framework was prepared as the basis for implementing the subsequent phases of the KLCDI. As an outcome from the process, a 20 years strategic programme has been developed with five years operational plan (2016-2020). 

Focusing on five main intervention areas: livelihoods and climate change adaptation (socio-economic development), community-based participatory ecosystem management (ecosystem wellbeing), resources governance, long-term monitoring, and regional cooperation the programme envisaged to address the following programmatic and initiative wise outcomes.


January 2013 – December 2017

Programme Coordinator, Kangchenjunga Landscape Initiative

Supported by

Facts about KL

  • Total area: 25,081 km2
  • Elevation range: 40- 8586 masl
  • Ecoregions within KL: 9
  • Biodiversity hotspot: 1
  • Protected areas: 19