Our themes
At a glance

Ecosystem services ensures that ecosystem health is maintained to sustain the flow of ecosystem services so that people in the HKH have the tools they need for mitigation, adaptation, and enhanced resilience.

Bandana Shakya

Bandana Shakya arrow

Theme Leader, Ecosystem Services

Our focus

Ecosystem health sustains a flow of services

Action at the local, regional, and global levels is required to ensure that ecosystem health is maintained to sustain the flow of ecosystem services, so that people in the HKH have the tools they need for mitigation, adaptation, and enhanced resilience.

The HKH houses one of the most diverse ecosystems on the earth, featuring a rich biodiversity of species and genetic levels, supplemented by ethnic and cultural diversity, and manifested in a myriad of habitats and vertical heterogeneities in soil, water, climate, and topography. These factors contribute to the high degree of genetic diversity in terms of crops and livestock species in the Himalaya, which require equally diverse management systems for negotiating the interface between human and natural systems.

The flow of services (e.g., supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural) provided by these mountain ecosystems contributes to the wellbeing of the mountain populations throughout the HKH, the downstream areas, and the global community.

However, despite international recognition, mountains, in general, and the HKH, in particular, continue to face enormous pressures due to anthropogenic change on regional and global scales. These pressures have disrupted of the region’s mountain ecosystems and threaten the HKH in various ways: rising poverty, biodiversity loss, ecological degradation, and diminished ecosystem service provisions.

All of these, in combination, have significant ramifications for ecosystem resilience, which can lead to greater vulnerability of natural and human populations.

The ecosystem services theme will pursue the following objectives in the next five years:

  • To enhance the professional capacity of human resources for ICIMOD and partners on contemporary science;
  • To enhance multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and approaches for understanding the social, economic, cultural, and environmental nexus, and proactively managing ecosystems at the watershed or landscape level; and
  • To strengthen our knowledge base for the region with state-of-the-art science products, policy briefs, and open-access databases.

We will develop methodologies and/or approaches in the following areas:

  • A more comprehensive plan for establishing long-term monitoring systems that consider environmental, social, and ecological frameworks with a series of permanent plots covering representative mountain ecosystems. We will promote sustenance of such monitoring sites for continuous flow of data;
  • A more integrated biodiversity database covering all identified transboundary landscapes and critical areas in the HKH;
  • An integrated framework including relevant methods for the assessing ecosystem health including soils;
  • Observing and monitoring biophysical and climatic variables for biomass assessment and vegetation dynamics mapping using earth observation data and field survey technologies;
  • A methods framework for monitoring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon sequestration in a few critical ecosystems including soils; and
  • Promote pilots (including transboundary) at the local level and landscape scale within regional frameworks on ecosystem management. We will document the data from these pilots, and present our findings in national and sub national fora for influencing policy.

Wetlands action for people and nature


Events around the HKH

Our involvement

Featured Publication

The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment

This open access volume is the first comprehensive assessment of the HKH region. It comprises important scientific research on the social, economic, and environmental pillars of sustainable mountain development and will serve as a basis for evidence-based decision-making to safeguard the environment and advance people’s well-being.

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News and features

Around the HKH

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Other themes

Discipline-specific knowledge

Our themes focus on discipline-specific knowledge. Working in partnerships, theme-based staff develop and customize methodologies and tools, and carry out innovative applied research to address the complex issues in the HKH.

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Geospatial solutions
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