Piloting of the Biodiversity Monitoring Protocol for REDD+ conducted in Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Nepal

Scope of Biodiversity monitoring protocol for REDD+ in Nepal

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Setting up of camera trap
Photo: Pradyumna Rana/ICIMOD

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there is a requirement for countries prior to seeking result-based financing to show how all the social and environmental safeguards presented in the Cancun Safeguards are addressed and respected. 

These safeguards ensure that REDD+ implementation does not have unintended or unanticipated  adverse impacts. The safeguards also accommodate the need to address biodiversity conservation. However, in spite of these checks, none of the standards currently proposed include significant guidance on biodiversity monitoring. 

Though a few biodiversity monitoring manuals and guidelines from the Government of Nepal (GoN), National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), and other organizations are available in Nepal, biodiversity monitoring in relation to REDD+ remains largely undeveloped. In addition, existing protocols and actions do not provide clear methodological guidance for REDD+ projects to meet Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCB Standards) or other multiple benefit standards. The lack of this kind of protocol is a key factor constraining the adoption of good practices, especially given that many REDD+ projects are implemented in biodiversity hotspots and protected areas.  In this context, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), NTNC and ICIMOD have begun collaboration to develop a Biodiversity Monitoring Protocol (BMP) for REDD+.

Caption: Indian Nightjar caught in Mist Net
Photo: Pradyumna Rana/ICIMOD

The draft protocol was recently tested in the Parsa Wildlife Reserve (PWR) under the lead of NTNC. PWR fall in the Terai Arc Landscape for which the Government of Nepal is developing an Emission Reduction Programme Document (ERPD) to be submitted to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank.

Piloting exercise for the BMP for REDD+ 

To pilot the protocol, NTNC led a two-week exercise in February 2017 in three selected hotspots of the Parsa Wildlife Reserve: Bhata-Rambhori (grassland-forest ecosystem), Halkoriya Daha (wetland-grassland ecosystem), and Kaminidaha (wetland-forest ecosystem). The aim of the piloting exercise was to identify from a list which tools and techniques were most relevant for biodiversity monitoring for REDD+. Participants in this exercise included thematic and field experts from DNPWC, the REDD Implementation Centre (REDD IC), the Department of Forests under the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Nepal, NTNC, ICIMOD, and GIZ.

The team employed the same methodology used in the President Chure Conservation Programme (RCCP): plots 2x2 km2. In each plot, a variety of biodiversity monitoring tools were used: camera traps for large and small mammals, Sherman traps, live traps, and pitfall traps for small mammals and rodents. 

Researchers used transect walks and the point count method to monitor birds, mammals, and insects. They also employed a mist net for monitoring bats in the area. Not only was the REDD+ protocol improved as a result of this exercise, but Parsa was able to update its mammals database with a robust count of species. The pygmy shrew, the smallest mammal in Nepal, was spotted in Parsa for the first time. 

NTNC is analyzing the collected data to generate a formal recommendation for the protocol, which will later be sent to DNPWC and REDD IC for endorsement.