Climate-Vulnerable Nepal to benefit from ambitious new initiative

Posted on 08 November 2011

A five-year program to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and threats to biodiversity in Nepal, was officially launched at a ceremony in Kathmandu today.
Kathmandu – A five-year program to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and threats to biodiversity in Nepal, was officially launched at a ceremony in Kathmandu today.

The Hariyo Ban program is a new investment in biodiversity conservation in Nepal, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The program will be implemented by a consortium comprised of four leading conservation organizations in Nepal – WWF, the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), the Federation of Community Forestry Users in Nepal (FECOFUN) and the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) – with WWF serving as the managing partner.

Climate change is emerging as a major threat to people and biodiversity of Nepal. More than 1.9 million people are highly climate vulnerable and 10 million are increasingly at risk. Biodiversity has also been affected by increased intensity and frequency of forest fires, floods and landslides. Glacier retreat in the Himalayas has increased the risk of glacier lake outburst floods, which could have devastating consequences for downstream communities, infrastructure, property and wild species.

“Nepal is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world and the Government of Nepal welcomes the efforts being made by Hariyo Ban,” said chief guest Mr. Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission. “The year 2011 is being celebrated as the International Year of Forests and the theme ‘Forests for People’ also complements the goals of Hariyo Ban, which is expected to bring positive results to the people and environment of Nepal.”

Green Forests

Meaning “green forests” in Nepali, this program will help to build resilience to climate change in communities and ecosystems by restoring and conserving Nepal’s forests. It will also improve the livelihoods of some Nepal’s most impoverished communities.

Hariyo Ban will build on the successes of past conservation initiatives like the Terai Arc Landscape in southern Nepal, which is the biggest and most ambitious landscape level conservation site in Nepal, and the new Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape, which links the high Himalayas to the Terai.

“Recognizing the inseparable link between climate change and development, USAID is proud to lead President Obama’s vision for global development that includes the Global Climate Change Initiative,” said Ms. Patricia Mahoney, Chargé d’affaires, US Embassy. “This initiative promotes strategic efforts to build lasting resilience against climate impacts, reduce deforestation and land degradation, foster low-carbon growth, and promote sustainable societies, thus, meeting the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries like Nepal.”

True wealth of Nepal

“This ambitious project recognizes that forests are the true wealth of Nepal as forests not only support the livelihoods of millions of people and provide a safe haven for endangered species but also are vital to combat the impacts of climate change,” said Judy Oglethorpe, Chief of Party, Hariyo Ban. “For WWF, this project also marks a return to the world famous Annapurna Conservation Area, which was created through the pioneering efforts of the late Mingma Sherpa and Dr. Chandra Gurung, both of WWF.”

Hariyo Ban program aims to reduce emissions/sequester over 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in the target landscapes. It also aims to provide direct capacity building and livelihoods support to 180,000 people; bring 50,000 hectares of forest areas under improved management; and generate vital revenue from successful payments for environment services systems.
Women cutting grass. The grasslands are managed by the Community Co-ordination Forest Committee (CFCC). The land was previously grazed on, leaving it barren and bereft of life. Through sustainable management the area has now been regenerated. The CFCC was established with the help of WWF and allows communities to manage their own forests/grasslands in a sustainable manner. Khata, Royal Bardia National Park buffer zone, western Terai, Nepal.
© WWF / Simon de Trey White
Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), Chitwan National Park, Nepal.
© Michel Gunther / WWF