More than 200mn people depend on the Himalayan biodiversity for their livelihood but climate change may result in significant biodiversity loss by the end of this century
Four Himalayan countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal will now protect areas which interconnect these countries to conserve biodiversity and adapt to climate change. This was agreed during the second experts groups meet ‘Biodiversity Persistence and Climate Change’ leading up to the Bhutan Climate Summit later this year.
The agriculture minister, Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho, said it is important for the four partner countries to come together in conserving biodiversity in the region as they share common issues, threats and challenges.
“The four eastern Himalayan countries are bound together by geography, history, culture, economy and ecology and therefore we cannot act in isolation if we are to secure the future of our region,” said Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho, adding that biodiversity hotspots in the Himalayas are vulnerable to climate change because they are rich in endemic species with restricted distribution.
The nations have agreed on five key strategies and actions. The countries have decided to secure connected landscapes for enhanced ecosystem resilience. The four countries will identify potential Community Conservation Areas (CCA) to ensure regional connectivity. Implement regional conservation programs to conserve trans-boundary species of concern.
The countries have also agreed to ensure sustainable use of biodiversity for poverty alleviation and income generation by sharing knowledge on bio-prospecting, propagation and harvesting, markets and best practices to promote sustainable use.
It has also been agreed to establish a regional mechanism for information generation, knowledge sharing and capacity building.
Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho highlighted the importance to save wild animals saying that national boundaries do not confine them. “We must recognize them as our regional heritage and take collective responsibility to ensure their survival,” he said.
He said the four countries were making good progress in protection of the Sundarbans between Bangladesh and India, Terai landscape between India and Nepal, the Manas Wildlife Sancturay between Bhutan and India and the Kanchenjunga landscape among India, Nepal and Bhutan. “These bilateral and trilateral cooperation sites should serve as models for future cooperation in regional biodiversity conservation,” said Lyonpo.
The Himalayas are home to an estimated 10,000 plant species, 300 mammal species, 977 bird species, 176 reptiles, 105 amphibians, and 269 freshwater fish. The region also has the highest density of Royal Bengal Tiger and is also home to the great one-horned Rhino.