Local council for protected area management in KSL, Nepal

The Api Nampa Conservation Area (ANCA) is a protected area at the far northwest corner of Nepal, bordering Tibet and India. It lies within the Kailash Sacred Landscape and is home to species such as snow leopards, blue sheep and grey wolves. It is Nepal’s newest community-led conservation area, and from a global and regional perspective, it is a pioneering effort to manage biodiversity by defining the landscape through ecosystems, an approach encouraged by the Convention on Biological Diversity. The ANCA is also home to many people, some of whom were initially sceptical of having their villages and local forests included in a conservation area when the ANCA was established in 2010. Community leaders needed to understand the purpose of the conservation area, recognize its benefits, and trust that they would still maintain their traditional rights to collect resources such as fuelwood, fodder, and the high-value caterpillar fungus yarshagumba ( Cordyceps sinensis ), whose transboundary trade is economically crucial to many communities. The plan has always called for local people to take the lead in management through the ANCA Management Council, an elected body of representatives from the 21 village development committees that lie within the nearly 2,000 km2 area of the ANAC. To prepare for the formation of the council, local opinion leaders, including community activists and journalists, were familiarized with key environmental management concepts through exposure visits to the Annapurna Conservation Area, Chitwan National Park, and Institute of Forestry in Pokhara. After learning about the on-the-ground realities of managing and living near protected areas from scholars, scientists, women’s groups, foresters and others – people who had first-hand experienced of what the people of the ANCA were about to embark upon – the group from ANCA went home to share what was learned. ICIMOD experts also trekked for 17 days from village to village with the ANCA’s chief wildlife warden and other officials, meeting the people living within the ANCA, hearing their concerns, spreading knowledge and building consensus.  The ANCA Management Council, which will play a key role in the future, has now been elected and the protected area can begin operating with the support and ownership of the local people – a crucial factor in the long-term preservation of this fragile mountain ecosystem.