Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Nepal
The Harpan Watershed, Panchase in Nepal lies in the mid-hills of Nepal and consists of valleys, hills and the high mountains of the Himalayas. The economy of the Panchase is largely subsistence, based on crop production and livestock. There is high climatic variation due to changes in altitude and an average rainfall of 3, 355mm. The selected project site, the Harpan watershed, is about 15 km² with sub-tropical to temperate climate. There are about 900 households with a population of 4,598.
Through the global Ecosystems-based Adaptation (EbA) in Mountains Programme, UNDP, UNEP and IUCN, with funding from the German Government (BMUB), are using sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, as part of an overall EbA adaptation strategy, to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of select fragile mountain ecosystems and their local communities to climate change impacts. The promoted EbA measures carefully take into account anticipated climate change impacts trends to ensure a forward-looking process.
For more information visit the Global Ecosystems Based Adaptation in Mountains Programme profile, or the EbA Flagship.
The Nepal Pilot Project of the global Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Mountains Programme aims to enhance capacity of local communities, demonstrate EbA measures for continued provision of ecosystem services, and support in strengthening the institutional capacity of key national Nepalese actors to build and better integrate ecosystem resilience options in national, sub-national and local level plans.
It is working to specifically support 4 outcomes:
- Development of methodologies and tools for EbA decision-making in mountain ecosystems;
- Application of EbA tools and methodologies at the ecosystem level;
- Implementation of EbA pilot initiatives at the ecosystem level; and
- Development of a business case for EbA at the national level.
In Nepal, the Project is implemented by the Department of Forests (DoF) under the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) and is coordinated by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MoSTE). Similarly, there are three implementing agencies: UNEP, UNDP and IUCN. EbA initiatives are concentrated in 17 VDCs (Village Development Committees) of the ‘Panchase’ region and covers three districts – Kaski, Syangja and Parbat.
Key Results and Outputs
Some key accomplishments for the project include:
- The project has prioritized 3 important sub-watersheds – Rati, Saradi and Harpan - and focused on different interventions such as ecosystem restoration, water conservation, land rehabilitation, livelihood diversification and capacity enhancement of government agencies and local communities.
- Practices, like water source conservation and construction of conservation ponds, have been initiated in the pilot sites to address water scarcity issues, since the water sector is significantly affected by climate change in Nepal. These initiatives have helped reduce drudgery in fetching water required for dominant rural livelihood practices, i.e. subsistence agriculture and livestock rearing.
- Out-migration in Panchase has resulted in an increasing amount of abandoned and barren land. The Project has hence carried out plantation initiatives of endemic multi–use species to protect these lands from further degradation and also complement the needs of rural people for fuel wood and fodder. Additionally, the Project has supported nursery establishment in the region to provide easy access to seedlings species for plantations by the locals. Likewise, land degradation resulting from unplanned rural road construction has been addressed by roadside greenery promotion and roadside rehabilitation, using engineered structures such as ‘gabion cages’ that are supplemented by plantations. Similarly, several landslide and gully control initiatives have also been carried out in the project pilot sites.
- Rangeland management has been done by building compound walls to halt over-grazing activities of the livestock and protect the grassland ecosystem from further degradation. The Project has also distributed fodder species to reduce the pressure on the open degraded land.
- Several river bank conservation initiatives with application of grey-green measures, i.e. engineered structures coupled with bamboo plantation, have been carried out to protect agricultural lands in the river banks to reduce deposition of sediment downstream.
- The Harpan Sub-watershed is an important feeder to the nationally important Phewa Lake, which today suffers from massive deposition of silt. The Project has, therefore, carried out a comprehensive study on the siltation process of Harpan Khola and subsequently proposed construction of ecosystem-based siltation control techniques and a siltation dam in the Harpan River.
- The EbA concept has now been mainstreamed in Bachelors of Science (BSc) degree syllabus of the Tribhuvan University, Central Department of Environmental Science (CDES). Similarly, to reduce the research gap, EbA has provided research grants to the students of Tribhuvan University to undertake research work in the EbA site to investigate the effectiveness of EbA options.
- The Project broadcasted radio programs named ‘Panchase ko Serofero’ through Radio barahi-99.2, Radio saligram-100.6 and Syangja FM-89.6, respectively, from Kaski, Parbat and Syangja to increase local level awareness on ecosystems and EbA.
Some policy-related accomplishments include:
- Led by UNDP, the Nepal project has been engaged in the process of establishing the newly formed High-Level Technical Committee on EbA to be led by the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation. The main role of the Committee is to coordinate and mainstream ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation into different sectoral plans and programmes. The Committee includes representatives from various Ministries, such as National Planning Commission, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development. The first meeting of the Committee was scheduled for last week of September.
- The results of the Cost-benefit analysis carried out by the Nepal project, led by UNDP, will be presented in a high-level event, organized jointly with the High-level Technical Committee, in October.
- The new Forest Policy (2015) has climate change as one of seven thematic areas and includes EbA as one of the approaches put forward for adaptation. The project, led by UNDP, is involved in a working group developing a 5-yr action plan for the delivery of the climate change area of this Policy in all 75 Districts of Nepal. The project is providing direct technical input into how this key national policy will be implemented in practice with regards to climate change and making the case for integrating EbA measures into its delivery.
- The Nepal project, led by UNDP, has provided technical and financial support to produce draft Guidelines on Protected Forests, which provide regulations and directives on managing Protected Forests and are in the process of being endorsed by Government. The proposed Guidelines incorporate EbA and provide the opportunity for integrating EbA into the national Protection Forest management plans and programmes.