Experts' Meeting on Understanding Freshwater Ecosystem in Koshi Basin, Nepal: Priority for Research and Policy



Freshwater in the Koshi River Basin is an important ecosystem, and its interface with other ecosystems is crucial for managing ecosystem services in the longer term. In particular, the Koshi River Basin has high potential for hydropower and irrigation in the downstream. Thus it contributes significantly to the economic development of the region. However, freshwater ecosystems in the basin are increasingly at risk due to anthropogenic changes as well as climate change. Threats to water supply are of greatest concern. In the changing sociopolitical context, and in view of the emerging opportunity for state restructuring in Nepal, Koshi Basin Programme (KBP) is discussing a possible financial instrument for managing ecosystem. To that end, it seeks to develop a mechanism for sharing benefits among upstream and downstream communities, with a focus on water as a central element of the ecosystem services. 

In late 2013 and early 2014, an initial field visit was carried out together with other initiatives and partner institutions of ICIMOD. In late 2014, a local level expert meeting was organized. Based on the primary visits, the expert meeting and a review of secondary literature, a concept framework has been developed for freshwater ecosystem assessment in the Koshi Basin. The framework emphasizes 1) fresh water ecosystem assessment 2) valuation of freshwater ecosystem, with particular focus on water (irrigation and hydropower), and 3) pilots in benefit sharing mechanism (one each in hydropower and irrigation).

In this context, there is a need for greater understanding of the status and patterns of change in freshwater ecosystem in the Koshi River Basin.  The proposed expert consultation aims to bring biodiversity experts and professionals to discuss and scope research priorities that can possibly be linked to policy in Nepal. 

Programme Agenda

Moderator: Laxmi D. Bhatta and Tanya Doody 

Time Program Description Presenter

9:20 AM

Welcome note and an overview of ICIMOD programmes, with particular focus on River Basins

Dr Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations, ICIMOD  

9.30 AM

Integrated River Basin programme, linking national initiative to regional scale

Dr Arun Bhakta Shrestha, Regional Programme Manager

9:40 AM

Knowing each other

9:50 AM

Objective of expert consultation and plan

Tanya Doody

10:00 AM

Freshwater ecosystem in the Koshi: Drivers of change and local livelihoods

Laxmi D. Bhatta, S. Wahid and team

10:15 AM

Floral diversity in the Koshi Basin

Prof. Ram P. Chaudhary

10:30 AM

Morning tea

10:50 AM

Agriculture systems and fisheries

Prof. Khem Raj Dahal, and Prof. Madhav K. Shrestha

11:05 AM

Aquatic life and faunal diversity

Prof. Khadga Basnet

11:20 AM

Birds and birdlife

Dr Hem Sagar Baral and Dhan Chaudhary

11:35 AM

Herpitofauna and reptiles

Dr Karna B Shah, Dr Surya Ghubhaju

11:50 AM

Wetlands and livelihoods

Top B. Khatri and/or An Nath Baral, Kabir Uddin

12:05 PM

Large fauna /terrestrial biodiversity

Dr Shanta Raj Gnawali and/or Narendra Pradhan

12:20 PM


1:00 PM

Discussions and experts’ inputs

Key Questions: 

  • What are the key drivers of fresh water ecosystem change/flow change?
  • What is the correlation or relationship between river flow changes and ecosystem (such as hydropower, irrigation canals)?
  • What are the key data and information available?
  • How best can we conceptualize the relationships for integrated river basin planning?

Tanya Doody, Laxmi Bhatta, and S. Wahid (in each group)

Group work

3 groups – suggested based on key questions, 1 hr- group work + 5 min presentation each

3:30 PM

Coffee break

3:50 PM

Summary/next steps

Tanya Doody

4:10 PM

Vote of thanks


Radio interview with Laxmi Bhatt about Koshi Basin