USA / Nepal — Melting glaciers, forest fires, floods and landslides threaten Nepals people and wildlife
Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) November 10, 2011
A five-year program to reduce the impacts of a changing climate and threats to biodiversity and local people in Nepal, called Hariyo Ban, was launched this week in Kathmandu. The program, funded by USAID, is being led by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in partnership with a consortium of leading conservation organizations in Nepal CARE, the Federation of Community Forestry Users in Nepal (FECOFUN) and the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC).
Climate change poses a major threat to the people and biodiversity of Nepal. More than 10 million people are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in Nepal. Glacier retreat in the Himalayas has increased the risk of glacier lake outburst floods, which could have devastating consequences for downstream communities, infrastructure, property and wild animals. Increasingly intense and frequent forest fires, floods and landslides also threaten biodiversity and livelihoods in the region.
Hariyo Ban, which means green forests in Nepali, will help build resilience to climate change in communities and ecosystems by restoring and protecting Nepals forests. It will also improve the livelihoods of some of Nepals most impoverished communities.
Recognizing the inseparable link between climate change and development, USAID is proud to lead President Obamas vision for global development that includes the Global Climate Change Initiative, said Ms. Patricia Mahoney, Chargé daffaires, US Embassy. This initiative promotes strategic efforts to build lasting resilience against climate impacts, reduce deforestation and land degradation, foster low-carbon growth, and promote sustainable societies, thus, meeting the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries like Nepal.
Hariyo Ban aims to reduce over 1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in the target landscapes. It will also help improve the livelihoods of 180,000 people; improve the management of 124,000 acres of forest; and generate revenue from Payments for Environmental Services.
This ambitious project recognizes that forests are the true wealth of Nepal, as forests not only support the livelihoods of millions of people and provide a safe haven for endangered species but also are vital to combat the impacts of climate change, said Judy Oglethorpe, the Chief of Party for Hariyo Ban. For WWF, this project also marks a return to the world famous Annapurna Conservation Area, which was created through the pioneering efforts of the late Mingma Sherpa and Dr. Chandra Gurung, both of WWF.
Hariyo Ban will build on the successes of past conservation initiatives in the Terai Arc Landscape in southern Nepal, which is the biggest and most ambitious landscape level conservation site in Nepal, and the new Chitwan-Annapurna Linkage, which links the high Himalayas to the Terai.
Nepal is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world and the Government of Nepal welcomes the efforts being made by Hariyo Ban, said Mr. Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission. The year 2011 is being celebrated as the International Year of Forests and the theme Forests for People also complements the goals of Hariyo Ban, which is expected to bring positive results to the people and environment of Nepal.
Climate change in Nepal
The increasingly unpredictable weather patterns include warmer and drier winters, drought, changes in the monsoon rain patterns, and more intense precipitation events. In the mountains the warmer, drier winters with limited snowfall and rain in the last few years have affected winter crops and contributed to food shortages. In the low-lying Terai more intense flash floods and cold spells are destroying crops, and severe flooding has resulted in temporary displacement of people.
The changes in temperature and rainfall are creating favorable environments for pests, diseases and invasive species to emerge, spread and encroach in agricultural and forest lands and cause loss of biodiversity. Water resources are affected, with direct impacts on wetlands, the availability and quality of fresh water, water recharge systems for irrigation and hydropower, as well as the risk of increased floods, droughts and landslides. The most sensitive sectors are agriculture, forestry, water and energy, health, urban and infrastructure, tourism, industry, and overall livelihoods and economy.