Background

Counted among the ‘crisis ecoregions’, global 200 ecoregions’, ‘biodiversity hotspots’, and ‘endemic bird areas’, the Eastern Himalayan region, is a place of rich biodiversity. The region’s ecosystems provide valuable goods and services such as water, soil retention, climate regulation, carbon sequestration, and reservoirs of biodiversity including pollinators, natural predators, and other biological resources. It is home to diverse ethnic groups and minority communities who depend on the rich resources of the landscape for their sustenance. These goods and services influence the welfare and survival even of people downstream.

Realising the interdependence of livelihoods and biodiversity, ICIMOD over the past decade has been facilitating the landscape approach to biodiversity management in the Eastern Himalayan region. With strong support from partners in Bhutan, India, and Nepal, ICIMOD facilitated the project ‘Transboundary Biodiversity Management in the Kangchenjunga Landscape’. In 2008, ICIMOD commenced the dialogue for the Brahmaputra Salween landscape (BSL) conservation initiative, collaborating with partners from China, India, and Myanmar. The real starting point was the Tengchong Consultation in May 2009, where the participants identified the need to initiate and promote transboundary biodiversity and cultural conservation, ecosystem management, sustainable development, and climate change adaptation in the BSL and began the process for regional cooperation and the development and enhancement of the regional biodiversity and environmental knowledge base.    

In order to build up understanding of the impact of climate change on biodiversity and natural resources in the Eastern Himalayas, ICIMOD conducted a climate change vulnerability assessment of mountain ecosystems between 2007 and 2008. The assessment helped build a regional understanding of climate change scenarios for the Eastern Himalayan region and indicated that the impacts of climate change perceived here have far-reaching consequences for the condition of biodiversity, the downstream services, and people’s livelihoods and wellbeing. The study also elaborated the need to promote ecosystem-based adaptation at the landscape level to build the resilience of both ecosystems and the community.