Nepal has a vast diversity of climate and ecosystem types and hosts some of the most spectacular natural areas and biodiversity in the world. The country’s Himalayas include eight of the world‘s 10 tallest peaks and are an important water tower for some 1.3 billion people in South Asia. Additionally, Nepal has the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar region, with 3,808 glaciers and 1,466 glacial lakes. This exceptionally varied environment possesses enormous diversity of flora and fauna at genetic, species, and ecosystems levels. These resources help to sustain the lives and livelihoods of 80 percent of the Nepali people.
The Government of Nepal (GON) has demonstrated a strong commitment to sound environmental management, biodiversity conservation, and climate change negotiations by signing several international environmental conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Copenhagen Accord. In order to conserve diverse species and ecosystems, the GON has established 20 national parks and conservation areas that cover 23 percent of the country‘s landmass. Additionally, the GON has demonstrated a successful model of decentralized governance of forest resources by devolving over 1.7 million hectares of forest area to 18,000 community forest user groups (CFUG) representing 35 percent of the Nepali population. These CFUGs are responsible for sustainable management and productive use of their forests.
Despite these positive trends, Nepal faces serious environmental threats to its biological resources. The main problems include ecosystem and species loss, environmental degradation due to over-exploitation, and a high dependency of poor and vulnerable people on forest resources such as timber, firewood and other non-timber forest products. These problems are further compounded by poor governance, political instability, social exclusion, poverty, illiteracy, and high demand for forested land to feed Nepal’s growing population. Climate change is a risk multiplier – drastically increasing the threats to biodiversity and people, particularly the most vulnerable.
The $29.9 million, five-year Hariyo Ban project works under the U.S. Government’s Global Climate Change Initiative in Nepal. It is designed to reduce threats to the country’s vast physical and biological diversity through interventions in two critical bio-diverse areas covering over a third of the country: the Terai Arc Landscape and the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape.
The project is designed to build resilience to climate change in communities and ecosystems by restoring and conserving Nepal’s forests. It also improves the livelihoods of Nepal’s most impoverished communities.
The project, closely aligned with the GON’s Three Year Plan, Nepal Biodiversity Strategy, and National Adaptation Plan of Action, provides policy support at the national and sub-national levels to promote biodiversity conservation, sustainable forest management, and climate change adaptation and mitigation for poverty alleviation and economic growth.
The project takes a holistic approach to partnership and close collaboration with the GON, CARE, the National Trust for Nature Conservation, and the Federation of Community Forest User Groups - Nepal.
Improve Biodiversity Conservation
- Reduce biodiversity threats to targeted species and/or landscapes
- Restore habitat connectivity and routes for species movement to climate-safe areas
- Strengthen the internal governance of target organizations, including community groups and small non-governmental organizations, at the local level to improve natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and climate change adaptation
- Increase incomes of vulnerable, rural people and forest communities by introducing and teaching alternative sustainable sources of livelihoods, thereby strengthening incentives for reducing threats to biodiversity
- Improve national policy and planning conditions to facilitate the sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity conservation
Ensure Landscape Sustainability
- Support the formulation and implementation of policies, strategies, and working guidelines that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+)
- Develop national capacity for forest inventory management, greenhouse gas monitoring, and equitable distribution of climate finance benefits among all stakeholders, including Community Forest User Groups, bio-gas users, and the Government of Nepal
- Analyze and systematically address the factors contributing to deforestation and forest degradation
- Develop, test, and expand sustainable methods for payment for carbon credits
Increase Adaptation to Climate Change
- Increase government and private sector understanding of climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options
- Establish participatory systems for vulnerability monitoring
- Pilot and expand actions for climate change vulnerability reduction
- Provide support for climate change adaptation policies, strategies, and guidelines
Hariyo Ban efforts have enabled nearly 163,000 of the poorest and most vulnerable people to build the resiliency they need to thrive, including by preserving biodiversity, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to a changing environment and sustainably managing their natural resources. At the end of the project, USAID expects to achieve the following key results:
- Reduce/sequester over one million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions
- Bring over 500,000 hectares of degraded or deforested forest areas under improved management
- Provide direct capacity building and livelihoods support to approximately180,000 people to cope with adverse impacts of climate change
- Generate over $500,000 vital revenue from successful payments for environment services systems, including REDD+
- Improve policies and plans encompassing forestry, biodiversity and climate change adaptation and mitigation in Nepal
- Improve GON and civil society capacity for sustainable management and judicious use of forest and biological resources
- Increase GON and CFUG capacity for forest inventory, greenhouse gas monitoring and reporting
- Increase awareness on climate related vulnerabilities
- Improve and expand adaptation options to rural communities and natural systems
Last updated: December 13, 2013