The Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region is home to a rich biodiversity of global importance. It is also an important repository of cultural diversity. The region contains all or part of four of the 34 global Biodiversity Hotspots (the Himalaya, Indo-Burma, Mountains of Southeast China and Mountains of Central Asia hotspots). An estimated 39% of the landmass is allocated for in-situ biodiversity conservation (with 488 protected areas falling within IUCN categories I-VI notified by the national governments). Although there are a number of successful community-based conservation practices in the region, several challenges remain, such as habitat fragmentation and climate change and including understanding of the rights of indigenous and local communities for conservation and their sustainable use. Further there are many critical transboundary biodiversity complexes with intricate biodiversity management issues demanding transboundary cooperation for their management.
Concern for climate change is growing in the region. It poses a new challenge to the conventional approach of conserving biodiversity within a boundary of a protected area or a reserve. Ensuring long-term maintenance of the biodiversity requires anticipating the impacts of climate change, looking into the prospects for developing networks of corridors and connectivity among the existing protected areas, and foreseeing the human dimension more critically.
ICIMOD has been working on promoting and facilitating the development of transboundary conservation complexes for the last two decades. Work is in progress towards expanding the application of a transboundary cooperation approach in new conservation complexes using the experiences gained from past work in the Mount Everest complex, and ongoing work in the Kangchenjunga landscape. A process towards developing a ‘regional cooperation framework’ has begun in two new complexes: the Brahmaputra Salween Landscape (India-China-Myanmar) and the Kailash Sacred Conservation Landscape (China-India-Nepal). These landscapes are now nested within a larger framework of ‘Trans-Himalayan Transects’, an evolving approach to help understanding of present and future scenarios of climate change, its impact on biodiversity, and ultimately its implications for human well-being.
The Biodiversity Conservation and Management action area focuses its work on meeting the three objectives of conservation, sustainable use, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biodiversity resources and associated traditional knowledge (ABS). This is achieved through filling the knowledge gaps on the biological resources and services provided by protected areas, corridors, and landscapes using applied research. Capacity building of partners is a strong component of the action area. Another major focus is on looking into the impact of climate change on biodiversity as well as its impact on people’s well-being, essentially focusing on ecosystem services in the protected areas, corridors, and entire landscape. In this connection, a ‘rights-based approach’ under the parameters of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and ABS is being promoted to improve the livelihoods of communities and to enhance ecological and socioeconomic resilience. Developing a regional knowledge base on coping and adaptive practices in the above areas, and facilitating regional member countries to develop strategies to strengthen regional cooperation for biodiversity conservation and management remain a prime focus.
Action Area Team Leader