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Moving Mountains

For mountains and people

Wetlands

These transitional ecosystems between terrestrial and aquatic habitats form the habitats of a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, plants and other organisms, many of them uniquely adapted to this environment and vulnerable to change.

Wetlands face multiple stresses, from pollution to over-extraction of resources to environmental change, including changes in land use and climate change. Local communities and even governments have tended to underestimate their significance, and large areas have been drained for agriculture, pastoralism and forestry. Their significance, though, is vast. Wetlands are sometimes described as “the kidneys of the landscapes” because of their role in the hydrologic and chemical cycles. They also function as a storehouse of carbon in the form of peat.

Peat lands are a type of wetland surrounding water bodies; filled with partly decomposed plant and animal remains, they store about 12 percent of the global soil carbon while using only three percent of the total land surface. Peat lands are a major sink of temporarily sequestered carbon and an archive of evidence about past climate conditions.  In the Hindu Kush Himalayas, high-altitude peat lands occur in almost all regional member countries and represent at least a third of the region’s wetland resources. The degradation of peat lands could exacerbate the release of greenhouse gases, adding further challenges to global warming.

Related Initiatives

Koshi basin

Koshi Basin Programme

The initiative aims to contribute to inclusive poverty reduction in the Koshi basin by evaluating the range of possible water-related development pathways through evidence-based decision making and basin-wide cooperation considering climate change, hazards, and the provision of sustainable freshwater ecosystem services.

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DFAT Brahmaputra

The DFAT Brahmaputra and Energy Special Project, supported by the Government of Australia under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), is promoting research, and generating and documenting knowledge about the extent of water and equity issues in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region.

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