Why the regional Rangeland Program (RRP)?

Rangelands cover more than 60% (or about 2 million km2) of the Hindu Kush- Himalayan (HKH) region, and consist of natural grassland, shrub, scrub land, open woodland that can be used for livestock grazing, tundra, marshland, and sparsely vegetated dry lands. Rangelands in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region not only support many communities in the high mountains that earn their livelihood from pastoral production, but also capture and regulate water resources, nurture rich biodiversity with many species of fauna and flora endemic to the region, accommodate important ecosystem functions and services, provide a scientific research base, and retain clean air and open spaces for recreational purposes. Rangelands in the HKH region also reflect a diverse geographical and cultural landscape, concurrently shaped by historical and present-day physical forces and human use. Despite the importance of rangeland in the HKH, however it is, as in many other parts of the world, a generally neglected or under recognized resources in terms of research, legislation, and government development plans for sustainable utilization. Under-recognition of rangeland resources results in poor management decisions, which are increasingly proving to be the key region fro over grazing and degradation. Mountain communities that are entirely or partially dependent on rangelands have been managing rangeland for thousands of years of HKH. Through this age-old association they have accumulated abundant indigenous knowledge of production systems. Ironically, pastoralists are barely heard in rangeland management decisions. Instead, they are often blamed by contemporary policy-makers and some researchers for causing rangeland degradation.

Rangeland management in the HKH faces numerous problems, many of which are common across national boundaries and require regionally, ICIMOD as the regional centre dedicated to sustainable mountain development of the HKH, therefore begn to address common prominent rangeland management issues in the HKH from 1995, through the regional rangeland program (RRP). The RRP focuses on supporting and promoting proper rangeland management and reducing poverty in the HKH high mountains. Project interventions are mainly concerned with advocating legally supported sustainable rangeland management practices and enhancing institutional capacity to improve rangeland management and the ability of communities the cope with their physical, social, and economic vulnerabilities. The need for sustainable solutions to energy crises in the rangeland has been revealed more clearly in recent years, when partners from ICIMOD countries identified the lack of alternatives to energy from biomass and dung as one of the main causes of rangeland degradation. This led to formulation of a new energy on development of sustainable development of sustainable energy project on development of sustainable energy for rangeland (DESER) to address the energy needs of people residing in the RRP project sites of Bhutan, China, India, and Nepal.

The RRP has had three 4 major phases so far: RRP inception (1995-97). RRP I (1999-2002). RRP II (2003-06) and RRPIII (2007-09). Both RRP and DESER are co-financed by the federal government of Austria and ICIMOD, together with its partners in Afganistan, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan. From its inception, the RRP has focused on situation assessment and has gradually moved towards supporting and promoting processes continuing learning and collaborative decision making among the whole range of stakeholders, from local herders to policy makers. The RRp undertakes continuous self direction through the participatory action research approach.

Key concerns addressed by the RRP

Sustainable Pastoralism

  1. Ecosystem restoration
  2. As the population of both people and livestock has quadrupled
  3. Renewable energy
  4. Co-management approach

Addresssing rangeland development

  1. Capacity building
  2. Knowledge generation
  3. Policy advocacy

The regional Rangeland Progamme II

  • Continuation of activities from RRPI
  • Enhancing outreach and impact of experience and information from RRP I
  • Multiple uses of rangeland
  • Upstream-downstream and market linkages
  • Focus on capacity building and institutional strengthen
  • Duration: 2003 - 2007

Key out comes of RRP II

  • Enabling policies for sustainable use and management of rangelands
  • Improved technical and institutional innovations to address rangeland issues
  • Improved capacity of partner institutions and herders communities
  • Improved networking among institutions
  • Improved knowledge and information base on rangelands and pastoral system                                                

A commitment to mountain peoples

ICIMOD’s mission to develop and provide integrated and innovative approaches in cooperation with national, regional, and international partners, which foster action and change to overcome the economic and social and physical vulnerability in the mountain peoples. Solutions are created by identifying, testing and disseminating options. This mission is translated into outcomes by analyzing the causes of poverty and vulnerability in the mountains, which differ in significant ways from what is found in the plains surrounding the HKH. These outcomes are also based on experience with mountain development to date, especially in the areas of greatest opportunity for achieving measurable impact. In overall congruence with relevant aspects of the world summit on sustainable development and the Bishkek Global Mounatin Summit declaration, ICIMOD’s strategy has identified 5 long term outcomes that it is committed to help achieve these are:

  1. Productive and sustainable community based management of vulnerable mountain natural resources;
  2. Decreased physical vulnerability within watershed and regional river basins;
  3. Improved and diversified incomes for vulnerable rural and marginalized mountain peoples;
  4. Increased regional and local conservation of mountain biological and cultural heritage ; and
  5. A greater voice and greater influence, social security, and equity for mountain people.