Deepening regional cooperation for Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape


The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in collaboration with G. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (GBPIHED) organized the third regional consultation on ‘Developing Regional Cooperation for Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (BSLCDI)’ in Kaziranga, Assam, India, from 22 to 25 January 2014. 

The three-day consultation at Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site located on the bank of mighty Brahmaputra River, kicked off the country-led ‘start-up phase’ of the BSLCDI. The BSLCDI is being developed through a participatory and iterative consultative process, starting with its inception in the International Mountain Biodiversity Conference in 2008, followed by regional consultations in Yunnan, China, in 2009, and Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, in 2011.

The primary objective of the consultation was to understand country perspectives about the Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape (BSL), and to synthesize the issues, challenges, prospects, and priorities from a regional angle. The feasibility assessment reports by countries shed light on delineation of geographic extent of the Landscape, including prospects and opportunities for regional cooperation. Institutional coordination mechanisms for implementation of BSLCDI, gender integration, and communication and knowledge management were also thoroughly discussed.

“Landscape approach is about largeness, bigger vision, broader insights, collective efforts, and longer-term outcomes,” said Joint Secretary B M S Rathore of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, at the inauguration of the consultation.  

The consultation also set the stage for the countries to discuss and understand the process of developing Regional Cooperation Framework. The 30 participants, representing government organizations including heads of forest departments from states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in India, universities, technical and research institutes, and non-governmental organisations agreed to take forward the process of reviewing and finalizing geographic extent of BSL, and preparing other strategic documents to strengthen the agenda of conservation and development, environmental monitoring and research, and regional cooperation for BSL in 2014. 

The interdisciplinary team from ICIMOD elaborated that implementing regional programmes requires not only working across geographic boundaries of countries, but also across themes, disciplines, cultures, traditions, institutions as well as across knowledge and practices, and that partnership building through participatory approach is integral to the process. 

ICIMOD’s Programme Manager for Regional Transboundary Landscape Programme Dr Rajan Kotru appreciated the commitment shown by the three countries in firmly setting the stage for BSLCDI. Dr Manfred Seebauer of GIZ-Nepal urged the countries to identify essential regional actions that add value to the efforts of individual country in managing the Landscape. 

Speaking on behalf of nodal institutes in three countries, Dr Naing Zaw Htun of Department of Forest, Myanmar, said “Maintaining the integrity of natural landscape in Northern Myanmar, which is an integral part of BSL, is a high government priority.” 

Dr Prassanna K Samal of GBPIHED highlighted commonalities in culture and tradition among peoples in three countries and their need for use of resources from the Landscape. Dr Gao Lian Ming of Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, spoke about cooperation towards building scientific knowledge from the Landscape through collaborative research because of the unique biodiversity of BSL.  

The Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape is a transboundary landscape stretched across China, India, and Myanmar in the eastern Himalayas. The Landscape harbours a rich mixture of flora and fauna from the three biogeographic realms (Indo-Malayan, Palaeoarctic, and Sino-Japanese), and three global biodiversity hotspots (Himalayan, Indo-Burma, and Mountains of southwest China), and hence has the best representation of contiguous forested tract in the Hindu Kush Himalayas. Being the centre of origin for vascular plants and the centre of diversity for lesser mammals, BSL has a very high degree of endemism. All stakeholders who have been part of the consultative process so far agree on the need for regional cooperation to conserve this wonderfully rich bio-cultural Landscape.