Do Conferences Even Have Follow-up Field Action? YES!

UPDATE has previously reported on the complex of conferences and workshops held last November in Kathmandu at ICIMOD.  In a Plenary session, as a keynote presentation, Bruno Messerli proposed some concrete steps that might advance the ICIMOD agenda in the Hindu Kush- Karakoram-Himalayas for biodiversity conservation and transborder cooperation  in face of global change. These involved a set of altitudinal transects spaced east-west along the ranges. These were not only endorsed, but action has started. Bruno reports below:

"Eklabya Sharma and his team of ICIMOD prepared for this conference and the workshops a lot of basic data and documents for the whole Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalayan Region (HKH).  In total the HKH region has 488 protected areas (IUCN categories I - VI, Heritage sites, Ramsar wetland sites and important bird areas), covering more than 1,6 million km2  and representing 39% of the region's terrestrial area. (Figure 1, above right) This is highly significant, even if we have not yet the necessary climatic, hydrological, soil and land use data to understand the variability and vulnerability of biodiversity in a time of climate and environmental change. Taking into account the distance of around 3,500 km from the dry west to the humid east and the difference from the monsoon summer precipitation in the south to the boreal winter precipitation regime in the North over the Tibetan Plateau, it was decided to focus on 4 transects and 7 transboundary complexes or landscapes." (Figure 2, below left)

"The next step followed in May 2009. China initiated a workshop in Tengchong, Yunnan, for better cooperation between India, China, Myanmar and ICIMOD in the humid eastern Himalaya: "Regional Experience Sharing Consultation on Landscape Approach to Biodiversity Conservation in the Eastern Himalaya". The four days' consultation shared the biodiversity values and services provided by three key protected areas: the Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve in China, Namdapha Tiger Reserve and National Park in India, and the Hkakaborazi Park in Myanmar. Although in different countries, all are within the Brahmaputra-Salween landscape and this transboundary complex has an astonishing level of biodiversity, and is the meeting point of three global 'biodiversity hotspots'." 

The most recent event was the inception workshop for the so-called "Sacred Landscape Kailash" in June 2009, organized by ICIMOD, together with UNEP, represented by delegates from UNEP offices in Nairobi and Bangkok. The concerned three countries China, India and Nepal had prepared this meeting by national consultations between political and scientific institutions and personalities, so that the inception workshop could progress successfully. I was deeply impressed about the open discussion, the friendly atmosphere and the fascinating results about the topics, the spatial limitation, the data exchange and the financial support. UNEP decided shortly after this workshop to fund the first two years and if the results would be promising, a continuation could be possible.

It is astonishing what happened in the HKH region in the short time between November 2008 and June 2009. If we think that also in 2008 an ICIMOD  book about Biodiversity Conservation in the Kangchengjunga Landscape was published by N. Chettri, B. Shakya and E. Sharma, and initiatives have been taken for the Karakoram transboundary complex (Pakistan-China), where the ICIMOD framework is expected to be adopted. This means that activities have been started in all the four transects, not yet in all the seven special  landscapes. This initiative also is in concordance with the  CBD programme of work for mountain biodiversity, For this brilliant start we thank all the different national and international delegations for their cooperation, Dr. Andreas Schild and ICIMOD for the support and the organization of all the meetings and workshops,  Prof. Christian Körner and Dr. Eva Spehn for their continuous support as the leaders of Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment Program (GMBA), Dr. Graeme Worboys and Prof. Larry Hamilton for all the good advices and especially Dr. Eklabya Sharma and his team for the outstanding engagement in all the scientific and political aspects of such a great program for such a huge mountain system. (All questions about this program should be addressed to Dr. Eklabya Sharma, ICIMOD:  (Thanks for this Bruno)

Extrated from The Mountain Protected Areas UPDATE, Vol. 63, Sept 2009