The geography of Nepal is unique with remarkable changes in elevation and associated variation in ecological climatic conditions, has given rise to an exclusive, rich biodiversity. In addition, the country is located in between two major bio-geographic regions: the tropical Indomalaya ecozone and temperate Palearctic ecozone. This has made Nepal a place that homes species originating from both the regions.
A total of 118 different ecosystems have been identified in Nepal, including 112 forest ecosystems, four cultivation ecosystems, one water body ecosystem and one glacier/snow/rock ecosystem.
Nepal occupies about 0.1 per cent of the global area, but harbours 3.2 per cent and 1.1 per cent of the world’s known flora and fauna, respectively. About 5.2 per cent of the world’s known mammals, 9.5 per cent birds, 5.1 per cent gymnosperms and 8.2 per cent bryophytes are reported in Nepal. A total of 284 species of flowering plants, 160 animal species and 14 species of herpetofauna are reportedly endemic to Nepal. The diverse climatic and topographic conditions have also favoured maximum diversity of agricultural crops, their wild relatives and animal species. Nepal is ranked 25th and 11th positions in biodiversity richness in the world and Asia, respectively.
Biodiversity is closely linked to the livelihoods and economic well-being of most Nepalese people. Biodiversity relates to almost every aspect of Nepalese life, including agricultural productivity, food security, building materials, human health and nutrition, indigenous knowledge, gender equality, culture, climate, water resources and aesthetic value for society. The economy of Nepal is very much dependent on the use of natural resources. The country’s biodiversity is also an important source of revenue.
Biodiversity is a source of a range of goods and services. These are also considered low cost and locally suitable adaptation measures to moderate the negative impacts of climate change.
1.a. Pangolin conservation
The pangolin is a prehistoric mammal whose native range spans across Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia. These spiny creatures are covered with scales made of keratin, just like our fingernails and hair. When threatened, the pangolin curls up into a tight, almost impenetrable ball. Known as scaly anteaters, they can utilize their curved claws to excavate ant and termite nests. Their exceptionally long tongues aid in each endeavor while their ability to voluntarily constrict their ears and nostrils keep insects from getting in.
The Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla is classed as the Critically Endangered and in common with all Pangolin species is in drastic decline throughout its range through serious overhunting to supply the Chinese traditional medicine market and loss of forest habitat.
With the generous funding support from the Forestry Bureau, Council of Agriculture, Taiwan, we are working for the conservation of the globally threatened and yet the critically endangered Chinese pangolin with the local community forest user groups, District Forest Office and its sub-units, enforcement agencies and academic institutions and women groups in the Sindhupalchowk district that borders the autonomous Tibet.
1.b. Fishing cat conservation
The fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus is a medium-sized wild cat of South and Southeast Asia. In 2008, the IUCN classified the fishing cat as Endangered. Fishing cat populations are threatened by destruction of wetlands and declined severely over the last decade. The tropical lands of Nepal are the natural home of the unique and elusive Small carnivore, the Fishing Cat. With generous funding from The Audubon Naturalist Society and Roger Williams Park Zoo, we are working on community Fishing Cat conservation programs in the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha, the light of Asia, the World Heritage Site.
2.Education outreach programs
Education is the ladder by which communities can climb out of deep poverty and hunger. Through the efforts of the Outreach Program, the most vulnerable children are sent schools. We concentrate our efforts in a few selected areas in this field.
- Community welfare programs
Conservation of nature can be achieved more easily in an aware and well-to-do community than an aware but impoverished community. Education and awareness alone are not sufficient if a community is struggling to live. We encourage communities to develop a culture of giving and sharing. The joy of giving is greater than that of receiving.
- Habitat restoration
Every species requires a certain set of environmental conditions to be able to move around, feed and reproduce which is called habitat. Habitat is important for species survival so when habitat is broken up by roads or other commercial development, their ability to survive is severely affected. We believe that to protect the wildlife, habitat must be secured.
With this mindset, we are working to conserve the natural habitats of the animals that are globally threatened yet found in the natural forests of Nepal through community involvement and conserved conservation models.
- Go Green program
Tree plantation in Kathmandu city
One of the practical ways to combat climate change is to plant more trees in order to take more carbon out of the atmosphere (as long as the trees are planted in the right place).
Younger trees absorb carbon dioxide quickly while they are growing, but as a tree ages a steady state is eventually reached, and at this point the amount of carbon absorbed through photosynthesis is similar to that lost through respiration and decay. If trees are harvested carefully near this time in the growth cycle, and new trees are planted or allowed to regenerate, then this can keep the forest as a net “sink” of carbon.
Women for conservation aim to promote greenery and combat climate change by encouraging the culture of tree plantation in Kathmandu. We plan to plant around 15,000 tree saplings in different open spaces and fallow lands inside the Kathmandu Valley by this year.
The objective of the program is to create awareness and inspiration in the local community to maintain biodiversity and clean their surroundings through local participation.