Reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict

A relief fund of USD 20,000 was instituted in TAL for local communities to address cases of human-wildlife conflict and provide relief for about 50 households who suffered damages to homes and crops by wildlife such as wild elephants. Likewise, mitigation measures such as predator-resistant pens, stone wall and electric fences protected local households in TAL and SHL from livestock and crop depredation which is one of the primary reasons for human-wildlife conflict in both the mountain and Terai communities. 14 Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) were also instituted in TAL comprising local community members to facilitate immediate medical aid and relief to people affected by human-wildlife conflict. The RRTs have been instrumental in building community awareness and motivating community ownership in conservation in the backdrop of this challenge.

Habitat management in Protected Areas

Habitat management in TAL is a crucial aspect of protected areas management where park authorities, Nepal Army and local communities undertake grassland management, fire-line construction and maintenance, and waterhole construction and maintenance in order to provide suitable habitat for wildlife all year round. This helps maintain the diversity of palatable grass species, and manage appropriate feeding, drinking, nesting and breeding grounds for wild animals. Seasonal elements such as the monsoons and dry periods have a bearing on the quality of habitat which, if not managed on a regular basis, can be detrimental to the growth and maintenance of wildlife populations.

262km
of fire-line constructed
255ha
of grasslands managed
9
wetlands constructed

Forest restoration and management in critical corridors

Local communities are at the helm of forest restoration and management works in the critical corridors of TAL and mountain forests of SHL through activities such as plantation, grassland management and grazing control to maintain critical connectivity between parks and reserves for wildlife. The community forestry program in forest corridors, bottlenecks and buffer zone areas is the primary intervention through which local communities are directly involved in the sustainable management of community forests and natural resources. The program transfers the use rights of forests from the government to the local communities thereby promoting their access to and rights over the sustainable use of forest resources.

240km
of fire-lines constructed
505ha
of grassland managed in buffer zones, critical corridors and bottlenecks
3600+ha
of new community forests handed over in TAL and SHL
43
Forest Operation Plans* renewed
334ha
of forests restored
16
waterholes restored
* Forest operation plans are five-yearly plans that describe operational arrangements for local communities regarding protection, management and use of forest resources and membership norms for community forest users groups.

Sustainable Communities Initiative

WWF Nepal launched the Sustainable Communities Initiative in Thulo Syafru in the buffer zone of Langtang National Park as an innovative approach to motivate community stewardship in conservation. This approach uses a package of interventions that rests on three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic and social. In Thulo Syafru, a baseline survey was completed to serve as a basis to measure future results. Community level interventions were also initiated in the areas of sustainable forest and grassland management, alternate energy, micro-credit mechanisms for livelihoods activities, and health and sanitation. The Sustainable Communities Initiative was initiated from Amaltari in the buffer zone of Chitwan National Park in 2014.

Grazing control

TAL is home to more than 7 million people with more than 5 million livestock providing for their livelihoods needs. Uncontrolled grazing of livestock in community and buffer zone forests is, in effect, a primary driver of forest degradation. Considering the need to better manage livestock and grazing practices for the benefit of biodiversity conservation, local communities have initiated several programs centered on declaring zero grazing zones, stall feeding, distribution of fodder seedlings and fencing. 25,000 grass and fodder seedlings were distributed to local household for plantation in private lands so as to provide for the fodder needs of livestock, while 1,380 households were provided with cement troughs as an alternate to the wooden troughs used by local households for feeding livestock. Three zero grazing zones have been declared in TAL till date as a major initiative to build community support for responsible grazing practices.

Participation in the UNFCCC Process

WWF Nepal participated in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21 held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015, which marked the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The conference negotiated the Paris Agreement, a global agreement on the reduction of climate change. The agreement will enter into force when joined by at least 55 countries which together represent at least 55% of global greenhouse emissions. On 22 April 2016 (Earth Day), 174 countries, including Nepal, signed the agreement. Post COP 21, the government of Nepal submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which identified the role of REDD+ for climate change mitigation. WWF Nepal, as a team member, supported the government in drafting the INDCs.

Building community resilience to climate change

Climate adaptation interventions were supported through the formulation and implementation of Community Adaptation Plans of Action (CAPA) in vulnerable sites and Local Adaptation Plan for Action (LAPA) at the Village Development Committee level. An estimated 3,500 households benefitted from key adaptation interventions comprising of farmers’ schools, off-season cash crop farming, small irrigation support, construction of conservation ponds and water source protection to improve water availability for household use and irrigation. Plantations, check dams and bio-engineering for slope stabilization around vulnerable sites further helped protect forests and agricultural lands from inundation, landslides and river-bank cutting.

ALTERNATE ENERGY PROMOTION

A total of 2,500 biogas units were installed during this fiscal year contributing to the target of 20,000 units under the second phase of the Gold Standard Biogas Verification Emission Reduction (VER) Project (2013-2020) with 8,750 installed since its start. WWF Nepal completed its first Gold Standard Biogas VER project in the Terai Arc Landscape in 2015. The first vantage of carbon credits from the first phase generated €2 million. This is being channeled back to the local communities for building additional biogas units as well as funding community development programs. Biogas as an alternate energy source is helping replace household demand for firewood particularly in the Terai. This is reducing pressure on forest resources and contributing to the health of local communities through a smoke-free and cleaner energy alternative.

Building capacities in REDD+

With a view to building awareness and understanding of REDD+ amongst youth and academia, WWF Nepal provides capacity building opportunities in order to prepare future conservationists to take forward REDD+ issues. During this fiscal year, WWF Nepal brought together 40 political youth representatives to discuss on issues related to natural resource management and renewables, REDD+, and issues on the new constitution of Nepal. 60 undergraduate and graduate students were also provided orientations on REDD+ and conducting forest carbon inventory. WWF Nepal also continued its engagement with the academic sector and provided scholarships to 15 academic researchers affiliated to various universities and colleges on climate change, biodiversity conservation and REDD+.

Permanent climate change monitoring plots established

WWF Nepal established a series of permanent plots in forests to monitor long-term impacts of climate change. The plots are located in the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape, reaching from near sea level in Chitwan to the Tibetan plateau in Mustang at 4,500 m. Fauna, flora and socio-economic baseline surveys have been undertaken. The plots will be monitored regularly to see the effects of advancing climate change and climate variability. In some cases, pairs of nearby plots have been established, one in an area expected to be vulnerable to climate and the other in a likely climate refugia. A similar series of freshwater climate change monitoring plots is planned in the Kali Gandaki/Narayani river system.

Access to drinking water

In the Indrawati and Dudhkoshi sub-basins, a total of 41 spring sources were conserved to improve the water availability for drinking purposes for 645 local households as part of the IWRM project in the Koshi river basin. This was complemented by the construction of 28 water tanks to manage the drinking water benefiting more than 750 households in the two sub-basins. Rainwater harvesting systems were further installed for 110 households to improve water availability for drinking and agricultural use. The communities in Indrawati and Dudhkoshi sub-basins have been experiencing water stress for several years on account of climate change that led to the drying up of traditional water sources. Interventions such as this help protect water sources at source with the participation of local communities.

Reducing climate vulnerabilities

Conservation and management of forests and watersheds is an important part of the IWRM project in Indrawati sub-basin that helps keep a check on environment degradation and landslides predominant in hilly communities. In this regard, the local communities planted 14,600 seedlings of different forest and fodder species covering about 34ha of degraded slopes in Indrawati sub basin benefitting 740 households. In addition, low cost bio-engineering interventions were carried out for landslide stabilization such as the construction of check dams and bamboo plantations benefitting 54 households. Through such conservation and protection measures, agricultural land and homes of local communities become less vulnerable to climate-induced disasters such as landslides and floods.

A NEW RAMSAR SITE

The Government of Nepal, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Department of Forests and Pokhara Valley Lake Conservation Committee under the Chairmanship of the Local Development Officer, Kaski marked World Wetlands Day 2016 with a special celebration to declare nine lakes in Kaski district under the Ramsar Convention on 2 February 2016. The Lake cluster of the Pokhara valley has international importance, as it supports vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species as well as threatened ecological communities. Many local people depend on resources from the lakes and their catchments, and electricity is generated through hydropower. The cluster is the 10th Ramsar Site to be declared in Nepal.

Piloting payments for ecosystem services

Phewa lake in the Pokhara valley in the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape is a major tourist attraction and also supports fishing, hydropower and other ecosystem services. However, the lake is shrinking due to sedimentation from the upper catchment. Beneficiaries of Phewa Lake (hotels owners, boatmen and fishermen) are willing to pay for sediment retention to slow the process down. In response communities in upper catchment are changing land use practices in their farmland and forests to reduce soil erosion and landslides. The Phewa Ecosystem Management Board has been formed, along with ecosystem service providers’ and receivers’ committees. The beneficiaries of the ecosystem services have started making payments for sediment retention activities in the upper catchment, which could become a sustainable source of financing for Phewa Lake conservation.

TAL Nepal Strategy and Action Plan (2015-2025)

The TAL Nepal Strategy and Action Plan (2015-2025) was endorsed by the government of Nepal to guide the implementation of the TAL vision for the next ten-year period. WWF Nepal provided technical support for the preparation of the strategy and action plan. The new plan included an extension of about 4,518km2 area of important climate refugia in the northern part of TAL. Its precursor, the TAL Strategic Plan and Implementation Plan (2004-14), had identified thematic areas and major interventions, and a business plan for the conservation of the landscape and sustainable livelihoods of local communities. The government’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation and WWF Nepal are jointly implementing two projects – Corridors and Bottlenecks Restoration Project and Protected Area and Buffer Zone Support Project – based on the strategic direction of these seminal documents.

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Green Recovery and Reconstruction

The 2015 earthquake in Nepal tragically resulted in many fatalities, destruction of property, and environmental damage. WWF Nepal supported the government to undertake a rapid environmental assessment looking at direct damage and risk of environmental impacts from recovery and reconstruction, including the effects of rebuilding half a million houses. WWF was invited to contribute to the Post Disaster Need Assessment and development of a Post Disaster Recovery Framework. New partnerships with the Department of Urban Development and National Reconstruction Authority were initiated for green recovery and reconstruction. WWF Nepal also supported emergency relief followed by recovery work including settlement re-planning, livelihood restoration activities, and reconstruction of trails, water supplies and alternative energy. Training in environmentally sound reconstruction was also provided to government engineers and architects, mason trainers, NGOs, politicians, and community radio stations to reduce adverse impacts by other sectors, helping build back better, safer and greener for greater resilience.

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Maiden CHAL Strategy

WWF Nepal supported the government to establish a new landscape in the Gandaki River basin – the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape (CHAL). CHAL stretches from the dry, high-altitude area of upper Mustang and the 8,000m high Himalayan range, down through the mid-hills to the low-lying Terai. CHAL has huge conservation importance, including snow leopard and red panda populations. Many of the 4.6 million human inhabitants are dependent on subsistence farming and forest products. The landscape’s economic activities include agriculture, tourism and hydropower. Major biodiversity threats include overharvesting of forests, uncontrolled fire, and poorly designed infrastructure development. Climate change exacerbates many threats. The new CHAL strategy will tackle these threats over the next ten years, taking an integrated river basin approach.

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Aligning conservation in the new Constitution

The promulgation of Nepal’s new constitution in September 2015 was one of the biggest achievements of the country for the year. Several key points that are central to sustainable development, management of natural resources and environmental conservation are enshrined across various clauses of the new constitution. The promulgation of the constitution has brought in a logical conclusion to WWF’s association with one of the committees of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal for more than seven years and a new area of partnership has been opened with the parliamentary committees. The Parliamentary Committee on Environment Protection and Agriculture and Energy has invited WWF for continuous support on contemporary policy issues related to natural resource management and environmental conservation.

Sustainable Green Infrastructure

Strengthened policy dialogue on a resilient Nepal helped further the agenda of promoting the conservation and sustainable development connection. WWF Nepal successfully advocated the realignment of the Mechi-Mahakali Railway which would have otherwise cut into prime wildlife habitat of Chitwan National Park. WWF Nepal additionally entered into a contractual agreement with the World Bank for identification of biodiversity hotspots during the expansion of Nepal’s east-west highway. This has brought in new partners such as the Department of Railways, Department of Roads, Nepal Electricity Authority, and the private sector for hydro power development focusing on sustainable green infrastructure.

A Royal Visit

WWF Nepal was honored to host Prince Harry on 21 March in Bardia as part of his five-day visit to Nepal. A major highlight of the program was Prince Harry’s visit to Dalla village in Khata Corridor where Prince Harry visited the homestay program that is providing conservation incentives to local communities, and got to understand the biogas project that provides local households with alternate energy access, and the broader conservation activities underway in this critical corridor that links Nepal’s Bardia National Park with India’s Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. In a parting note at the army headquarters in Bardia, Prince Harry wrote: “I congratulate every single one of you for what you have achieved here. Working together has proved itself, and no rhinos poached for three years is near perfection. Well done all of you. Thank you from all of us who care for all these amazing animals and the habitat they live in.”

Global Tiger Day

With tigers as the muse and Global Tiger Day a platform, WWF Nepal’s The Generation Green campaign brought together more than 1,000 young minds through a variety of events to bring out their interpretations of tigers and their protection. In the lead up to 29 July, youth participated in four different events centered on tigers. These included an inter-college debating league and art challenge, a creative writing contest, and a social media-driven creative slogan challenge. On Global Tiger Day, an open mic event was organized to add to the celebrations giving the young participants a three-minute window to perform for tigers. From beatboxing to contemporary dance, a special song penned for tigers and a magic show dedicated to the iconic species, the creativity of Nepal’s youth soared with their roar…all for the sake of the endangered tiger.

THE GENERATION GREEN

A total of 55,000 youth signed up to WWF Nepal’s The Generation Green (TGG) campaign. The campaign, which seeks to build youth voice and action for the environment and Nepal’s sustainable development, has a target of creating 500,000 youth members. The mentorship program, one of the flagship projects of TGG campaign engaged 14 leading Nepali citizens as mentors and 77 selected TGG members who conceptualized and implemented a total of 14 projects focusing on open space management, recycling arts and crafts products, conservation research and environment education. Seed Your Future (SYF), yet another key initiative under the campaign, was launched with ten schools as a pilot where students undertook small-scale organic farming within their schools. Market linkages were established to showcase their first monsoon harvest in a local farmer’s market. The campaign aims to make a continuous effort in educating and empowering youth with various engaging platforms and inculcating the concept of sustainable living in Nepal’s future youth leaders.