Back to news
14 Dec 2016 | HICAP

Researchers Discuss Wetland Research in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

5 mins Read

70% Complete

Policy makers, experts, and practitioners from the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) converged at a symposium held on the side lines of the 10th INTECOL International Wetland Conference in Changshu, China, from 19–24 September 2016. The day-long symposium, Novel Ecosystem of Alpine Wetlands in the Context of Climate Change, was co-organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and the National Plateau Wetland Research Centre (NPWRC), China, on 23 September 2016.

Hosted by Kun Tian, NPWRC, and Sunita Ranabhat, ICIMOD, the symposium provided a platform for participants from the HKH to share their experiences, discuss multiple drivers of changes, and share management strategies for wetlands in the region. The participants held scientific discourse on the principles of alpine wetlands ecology, citing examples of research carried out in Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, and Myanmar.

The INTECOL International Wetland Conference (IWC), held every four years, provides an opportunity for wetlands researchers from around the world to convene. They learn about and share current understandings of wetland biodiversity, the wise use of wetlands, and the functional role of wetlands in ecosystem management as an ecosystem service. More than 800 participants from 76 countries attended this year.

Sunita Ranabhat, ecosystem analyst at ICIMOD, described research trends and gaps in relation to the ecosystem services  of high altitude wetlands in the HKH. She said that although high altitude wetlands are important environmentally, ecologically and socio economically, research on the ecosystem services they provide is still inadequate. Though they are a unique ecosystem, their economic value has limited recognition among policy makers, and the public.

Case studies from Nepal

Policies, practices, and opportunities for high altitude wetland conservation in Nepal, were presented by Ishwari Prasad Poudel from the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Nepal. Poudel said that the government of Nepal has prioritized wetland conservation, and recognizes the role of communities in the conservation, management, and wise use of wetlands, including benefit sharing from wetlands.

Shailendra Pokharel, president of Conservation Development Foundation, Nepal, presented on wetland governance for the sustainability of Himalayan lakes in Nepal. Pokharel said that the establishment of a National Lake Conservation Development Committee (NLCDC) is a step towards effective lake governance in Nepal. He said that more information and knowledge is needed, that appropriate technology must be explored, and adequate finance leveraged, for the sustainability of lakes.

Ishana Thapa, who is with Bird Conservation Nepal, presented on the importance of Rara Lake, a high altitude lake in Nepal, and a Ramsar site, listed for its biodiversity and the livelihood opportunities it offers local people. She said that pressures on wetland resources are leading to the degradation of wetlands.

Case studies from China

Nahu Wetland Park, Changshu, China
Photo: Sunita Ranabhat/ICIMOD

Huai Chen from the Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, presented on methane emissions from unique wetlands – Zoige alpine wetlands, and the Three Gorges reservoir. China’s total methane emission from rice paddies, natural wetlands, and lakes account for approximately 2% of global methane sources. He said that methane emissions vary in the Zoige alpine wetlands depending on diurnal patterns, seasonal patterns, and spatial patterns, whereas methane emissions in reservoirs vary depending on standing water depth, and dissolved organic carbon in reservoirs.

Hang Wang, from the National Plateau Wetlands Research Centre, China, said that the domestication of Tibetan pigs poses a threat to local ecosystems. Rooting pigs not only change plant structure and species composition, but also change soil composition and soil fraction. This behaviour in pigs also impairs carbon storage, and the water holding capacities of wetland soil.

Xiao Feng Wang from Chongqing University, China, presented findings from the study he carried out in the Changjiang River. He said that rapid urbanization processes alter hydrology, and increase nutrient flow in the water. This, he said, alters the carbon biogeochemical cycle in the terrestrial-aqueous-atmospheric ecosystem which impacts global carbon  budgets.

Xing Zhong Yuan from Chongqing University said that the importance of mountain wetland agriculture was recognized in China as early as the 14th Century. He said that multifunctional mountain wetland agriculture is the best approach to solving issues related to pollution, water conservation, and biological production.

Case studies from Bangladesh and Myanmar

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, from the IUCN Bangladesh Country Office, talked about the introduction of community based management in Tanguar Haor for the sustainability of wetlands. Rural economy depends largely on production related to the hydrological functions of wetlands in Bangladesh. The sustainable management of wetlands is therefore indispensable here. Speaking of the benefits of Tanguar Hoar’s community based sustainable management project, Chowdhury said, “The community’s decision making capacity has increased since the intervention. Good governance, and the wise use of wetland resources have increased as well.”

Myanmar’s Inle Lake is facing threats due to the over extraction of resources, land use change, and pollution. Pyae Phyo Aung, programme manager of the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA), said that a zoning principle has been introduced to the lake for the conservation of wetland ecosystems.

Case studies from India

Chongpi Tuboi, a research scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India, said that ecological information on the structure and function of floating meadows is insufficient. Presenting a study on vegetation structure, and the composition of the floating meadows of Keibul Lamjao National Park in India, she pointed out that although 57.4% of the park is covered in meadows, the thickness of the floating mass  shows a decreasing trend. She said that thick meadowed areas need to be conserved for the long term conservation of wildlife species endemic to the lake.

Neeraj Mahar, Wildlife Institute of India, said that although the buffer zone concept is available for wetlands and water fowl habitats, it is hardly practiced in a manner that keeps wetlands free from external disturbances and development pressures. He presented a scientific approach to delineating buffer zones around wetlands based on the Flight Initiation Distances (FIDs) of water fowl in the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary in Ladakh, India. He suggested that this approach be replicated in other wetlands, and be considered a necessary tool for wetland management.

Irfan Rashid from the University of Kashmir, presented on the ecology, biodiversity, and conservation of Tsomoriri – a high altitude Ramsar site. He highlighted the importance of these wetlands for migratory birds and key mammal species.

“Wetlands are facing the growing impacts of tourism, unplanned development activities, and overgrazing,” he said, adding that it is important to take necessary measures immediately to maintain ecological balance in the lake and its surroundings.

Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur, India
Photo: JItendra Bajracharya/ ICIMOD

Stay current

Stay up to date on what’s happening around the HKH with our most recent publications and find out how you can help by subscribing to our mailing list.

Sign Up

Related Content

Continue exploring this topic

12 Feb 2015 News
Women from Jumla learn to make bio-briquettes and cultivate herbs

During the training, the women learned the techniques for propagating Lott Salla (Taxus wallichiana) and Chirayita (Swertia chirayita) and for ...

16 Sep 2015 HKPL
Collaboration important for Wakhan National Park

ICIMOD and Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Afghanistan (MAIL) jointly organised a one-day meeting 5 August 2015 to explore ...

8 Sep 2015 News
Help 4 earthquake affected villages in Kavre, Nepal, secure €10,000

Vote for ICIMOD's entry for Best Climate Practices Award ICIMOD and CEAPRED’s Climate Smart Villages, a pilot across four villages in Kavrepalanchowk in ...

6 Mar 2015 News
ICIMOD Engages with the Corporate Sector for Sustainable Ecosystem Goods and Services

The overarching objective of the joint workshop was to create a platform for the ...

Brick sector partnership enhances state of knowledge on science, technology, and policy in Nepal and South Asia

The project conducted interactive trainings and workshops, solicited feedback from the FNBI’s member associations for increased ownership, and mobilized local ...

26 Feb 2015 News
Collaborative research needed to enhance policy on freshwater ecosystem

About 40 senior professors, researchers and policy makers stressed the importance of the Koshi ...

7 Aug 2017 Himalica
Options to Strengthen Agricultural Practices and Technologies in the Midhills of Nepal

Speaking at the inaugural session of the event, Dila Ram Bhandari, Director General of the Department of Agriculture (DoA), said, ...

Third Regional Meeting for Kangchenjunga Landscape Initiative

Participants included high-level government officials from Bhutan led by Dasho Tenzin Dhundup, Secretary at ...