The proposed CCHTL is a globally unique geographical area. Cherrapunjee is known as the wettest place on Earth with the world record for the highest rainfall at 26,461 mm between August 1860 and July 1861. Geologically, the CCHTL represents ancient formations, largely igneous rock, unlike any other area in the Hindu Kush Himalayas. Connecting the Himalayas to mainland Bangladesh, the Chittagong Hill Tracts are blessed with vast evergreen forests, silvery waterfalls, swift mountain rivers, and a cool temperate climate. Although there are few protected areas within the landscape, a number of scared groves, scared caves, and forests make the landscape an important repository of biodiversity with one of the highest concentrations of endemic species in the Hindu Kush Himalayas. The 335m high Nohkalikai Falls, situated in Cherrapunjee, is the highest waterfall in India and is visited by thousands of tourists every year. The rainwater from Cherrapunjee flows directly into the Meghna Basin in Bangladesh and, in turn, the rainfall in Cherrapunjee is directly related to water level rise in Bangladesh. Likewise, the atmospheric conditions in Dhaka have direct implications for rainfall in Cherrapunjee. The people inhabiting this landscape are from diverse cultural groups. Agriculture is their main source of livelihood, followed by forests. Decreases in the shifting cultivation cycle, family fragmentation, unplanned and extensive mining, heavy overland flow and soil erosion, and development activities have significantly reduced the forest, biodiversity, and water retention capacity of the area in the recent years. In addition, although it is the wettest place on the Earth, the landscape has acute shortages of potable water because of pollution and development activities. Furthermore, climate change and its impact on rainfall patterns and hydrology, and the consequences of such changes for those living downstream, have not yet been investigated.
The main objective of the initiative is to promote and facilitate transboundary landscape conservation, ecosystem management, improved livelihood and sustainable development, and climate change adaptation within the Cherrapunjee-Chittagong Hill Tracts through regional cooperation and the development and enhancement of the regional knowledge base.
Specific objectives are to:
The proposed CCHTL comprises parts of Meghalaya, Assam, and Tripura states in North-East India and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh: Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board
India: GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Almora (which has a North East Unit at Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh)
January 2013 – December 2017