Conservation Initiatives in the HKH
The HKH region
Extending over an area of 4.3 million sq.km and parts of eight countries, the Hindu
Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region is among the most fragile and biodiversity-rich areas
in the world. The region is home to millions of people, many of them members of
poor and marginalised communities who depend on the biological resources of the
region for their subsistence livelihoods. The environmental services provided by
the glaciers, rivers, forests, rangelands, and wetlands in the region impact on
the lifelines of many downstream communities, and areas beyond the region.
The biodiversity significance of the region has been realised by the countries sharing
the region, and their commitment to protect and conserve biodiversity is well reflected
in the establishment of 488 protected areas covering 39% of the region’s geographical
area. Their commitment to the conservation of biodiversity is further formalised
and strengthened by the
Convention on Biological Diversity, to which all the RMCs are signatories.
However, spatial coverage alone is inadequate to ensure the conservation and sustainable
use of biodiversity. This is especially true when biodiversity resources form an
integral part of the support system of local people and where species are spread
beyond the confinement of one protected area or of national boundaries. In addition,
there are various drivers of change – climate change, land use change, habitat fragmentation,
population growth, use of resources by poor and marginalised people, fragmentation
of families, external market forces, and globalisation – that constantly challenge
the sustainable management of biodiversity in the region.
Approach to biodiversity management
ICIMOD has adopted the Convention for Biological Diversity’s (CBD’s) ecosystem approach to biodiversity management
as it balances the conservation of biodiversity resources with sustainable use,
while considering the possible impacts of climate change on biodiversity. The ecosystem
approach recognises people and their cultures and traditions as an integral part
of ecosystems and protected area management. The approach envisages landscape level
planning to establish and maintain contiguous habitats for the long-term protection
and sustainability of biodiversity and for human wellbeing. In line with CBD’s Programme
of Work on
Protected Areas and Programme of Work on Mountain Biodiversity ICIMOD has identified seven globally
significant, transboundary conservation landscapes in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas,
namely (from west to east): i) Wakhan, ii) Karakoram, iii) Kailash, iv) Everest,
v) Kangchenjunga, vi) Brahmaputra Salween, and vii) Cherapunjee Chittagong (View
Map). ICIMOD has initiated Transboundary Biodiversity Management (TBM) in
these landscapes, which refers to coordinated conservation action by many actors
and stakeholders in more than one country for the cumulative and long-term conservation
and management of an entire landscape.
ICIMOD began landscape conservation in 1994 in the Everest region. The Everest experience
demonstrated the acceptance of the Transboundary Biodiversity Management concept
by protected area managers, scientists, and local people. It also provided an opportunity
for cooperation between China and Nepal for the management of the Everest Landscape.
The next initiative was the Kangchenjunga Landscape.
Bhutan, India, and Nepal joined in a regional dialogue on the implementation of
the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Ecosystem Approach to conservation for
the management of Kangchenjunga Landscape. The Karakoram Landscape initiative in
the western Himalayas was of immense importance as it led to a political agreement
at the highest level for the development of a common management plan for the conservation
and socioeconomic development of two protected areas located adjacent to each other
in the landscape: Khunjerab National Park in Pakistan and Taxkorgan Nature Reserve
in China. More recently, under the
Kailash Sacred Landscape conservation initiative , among China, India and
Nepal, a regional cooperation framework is being developed for research and monitoring
towards the development of a knowledge base on the impact of climate change on biodiversity,
as well as an adaptive strategy for people vulnerable to climate change (link to
its web page). In the Brahmaputra Salween Conservation Landscape, the three countries
sharing the landscape (China, India and Myanmar) have discussed their strategic
direction and action . A feasibility assessment for developing this complex as a
transboundary landscape is underway.
PAs in proposed landscapes = 44
PAs in HKH Region = 488
Recorded Species = 10540
Threatenend Species = 81
PAs include IUCN Category from I to VI. Data available are from 2008.