Reducing Habitat Loss

Habitat loss is extensive in the Eastern Himalayas, over 75% of the original habitat has been destroyed or degraded. Fuelwood and fodder collection has damaged forests and grasslands. Extensive livestock grazing has reduced species compositions, and rapid development is removing species habitat and fragmenting populations.
Through its Living Himalayas Initiative WWF plans to reverse these trends. By working with governments, communities and industries WWF plans to introduce evolving, integrated conservation measures that include not only biodiversity conservation, but also natural resource management, sustainable development, and education.
 / ©: WWF
Eastern Himalayas ecoregion complex map
© WWF

natural resource management

Much of WWF's work in the Eastern Himalayas has involved engaging local communities in the stewardship of natural resources (such as freshwater, fuelwood, grazing land etc.), with the aim of finding a way for communities to directly benefit from its improved management. This method secures the sustainable management of the resource, improves livelihoods and ensures the survival of the species that rely on it.

CASE STUDY: THE TERAI ARC LANDSCAPE OF NEPAL


Biogas: In the Nepal region of the Terai Arc landscape of the Eastern Himalayas over 7,500 domestic biogas plants (which generate fuel from dung), have been installed with WWF's support; saving over 100,000 tonnes of fuelwood a year, diminishing carbon emissions, and providing communities with a safe, clean, reliable source of fuel.

Watch a short film about WWF's biogas project here >>


Community forests:
Under WWF's guidance thousands of hactares of forest have been handed over to communities in Nepal as sustainably managed 'community forests'.
Providing communities with ownership generates a sense of responsibility for the forests and a reason to manage them sustainably. There are now over 200 Comunity Forest User Groups, benefiting over 30,000 households.

WWF's Living Himalayas Initiative plans to develop this approach across the Eastern Himalayas and across the different habitats of the region (including forests, wetlands and grasslands).
 / ©: Simon de TREY-WHITE / WWF-UK
A woman standing with her communities biogas plant, Chitwan National Park, Nepal.
© Simon de TREY-WHITE / WWF-UK
 / ©: Simon de Trey-White / WWF-UK
Children gathering firewood in the buffer zone that surrounds Royal Bardia National Park, Nepal. Firewood is the main source of fuel in the area. The wood can only be collected from designated forests that under the control of the Community Forestry Coordination Committee (CFCC). The committees were set up with the help of WWF in order to allow communities to manage their surrounding forests in a more sustainable way.
© Simon de Trey-White / WWF-UK

Linking Landscapes

WWF is working to restore and reconnect the natural habitats of the Eastern Himalayas. Focussing not only on biodiversity conservation, but also the natural freshwater infrastructure of the Eastern Himalayas, and the sustainable use of its natural resources.

The objective is to create a conservation complex totaling 7 million ha across the top of the world - stretching from central Nepal across Bhutan to Arunachal in NE India - connecting 1,500 km of conservation area.

This will be acheived by bringing 2 areas in Nepal (100,000 ha), 2 areas in Sikkim (250,000 ha), and a large 3.1 million ha area in Arunachal under conservation management. Adding 3.5 million ha to the existing total.

These large landscape level conservation measures will ensure the ecological integrity of the forest, grassland, and freshwater ecosystems. Sustaining natural resources for communities, and increasing the resilience of the ecosystem they are in.

Education

Conservation education forms an integral part of WWF's projects and programmes. At the local level WWF has initiated and promoted awareness among the communities of the Eastern Himalayas, to conserve biological diversity in a way that is ecologically viable, economically beneficial, and socially equitable.
At the same time as increasing local stweardship of natural resources WWF's Living Himalayas Initiative will provide educational support to community groups, integrating biodiversity values with natural resource management.

Through non-formal training, communities will learn to understand how to identify and measure biodiversity values, and will be trained to integrate these with management plans. This will provide community groups with the skills to promote and adopt sustainable grazing practices. Reducing grazing pressure, and improving forest cover and quality. Similar techniques will also be applied to grasslands and wetlands.
 / ©: Simon de Trey White/ WWF-UK
The younger community members are also included in environmental education. Eco Clubs, were first set-up by WWF-Nepal in 1994 with the aim of improving the environmental awareness of school children. WWF plans to increase the number of Eco Clubs across the region in coming years.
© Simon de Trey White/ WWF-UK
  •  / ©: bhutanclimatesummit.org.bt

WWF Goals

    • Climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation will be mainstreamed into the management of river systems.
    • A mosaic of over 7 million hectares of high conservation value forest, grassland and wetland will be secured, connecting 1,500 km of conservation area.
    • Viable populations of iconic and threatened species will be secured and will live in harmony with human communities.

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