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WWF's Living Himalayas Initiative is tackling the primary drivers of species loss in the Eastern Himalayas, including; habitat loss, illegal wildlife trade, human-wildlife conflict, and climate change. WWF believes that by using an integrated approach, biodiversity conservation can be achieved at the same time as improving livelihoods, increasing the integrity of ecosystems, and addressing the impacts of climate change.

Now you see me, now you don't. What would happen if tigers became extinct? Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), Bandhavgarh National Park, India

© Sevigny / WWF

Habitat loss

WWF is working to restore and reconnect natural landscapes across the Eastern Himalayas to ensure that plant and animal species are able to thrive, and the needs of the local communities are met.

With the support of local communities WWF is focussing on the management of critical habitats, ecosystems and species using new evolving conservation measures. These include not only biodiversity conservation, but also natural resource management, and the securing of the natural freshwater infrastructure of the region.

WWF's objective is to create a conservation complex totalling 7 million hectares across the top of the world - stretching from central Nepal across Bhutan to NE India. Providing full connectivity across 1,500 km, and ensuring the ecological integrity of forest and freshawater ecosystems, and the biodiversity they support.

Illegal wildlife trade

To combat illegal trade in wildlife and plant products, WWF's Living Himalayas Initiative will conduct training programmes in anti-poaching. WWF will also create comunity-based anti-poaching units based on existing successful examples, such as in Chitwan national park in Nepal. This technique has greatly reduced poaching in the park and provided communities with a sense of responsibility for their environment and wildlife.

The Living Himalayas Initiative also aims to establish a joint India-Nepal education campaign to deter people from using wildlife products. At the same time, WWF will promote inter-agency relationships with organisations working for the same cause, such as South Asia Wildlife Trade Initiative (SWATI).  And continue to assist governmet enforcement agencies in monitoring wildlife trade through field investigations and studies, raids and seizures and training.

Human-wildlife conflict

WWF views human-wildlife conflict as a priority issue for its work on species conservation. A key aspect of any work is that it benefits both the wildlife and local people. In most cases, creative solutions have demonstrated that people can live alongside wildlife while developing sustainable livelihoods.

To reduce human-wildlife conflict, WWF’s Living Himalayas Initiative continues to focus on:

Climate Change

WWF's objective in the Eastern Himalayas is to create a long-term regional vision towards minimizing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. WWF's Living Himalayas Initiative hopes that by using an integrated approach, the overlapping issues of climate change and biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and ecosystem integrity can be addressed simultaneously. The proposed conservation complex is one example of this.

Such an approach will sustain natural resources for species and local communities, whilst increasing the resilience of the ecosystems they are in. Securing these ecosystems and introducing sustainable livelihood practices, will reduce the non-climatic stresses on species, and therefore the impacts of climate change. The threats to species in this region are generally only exacerbated by climate change in damaged or fragmented ecosystems.
© WWF / Steve Morgan
Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas Bhutan 2011
© Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas Bhutan 2011 ©

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.