Despite the importance of mountain eco-system, mainstream conservation work is somewhat confined to the plains and by the time the focus reaches the mountains, it is already defused, feel a number of conservation specialists.
The issue of mountains is of utmost importance to Global Foundation and CHINAR (NGO) who have been working on mountain issues for some time now, undertaking collaborative research on biodiversity & ecosystem services and development projects at the community level.
To discuss about the importance of mountains and see what can be done to protect it from various threats such as changing climate, this session was organized under the facilitation of Dr Pranab J Patar of Global Foundation and Dr Pradeep Mehta of CHINAR. The panelist spoke at length about a number of issues pertaining to the mountain ecosystem and its people.
Dr Peter Jacobs, Chair of the Mountains Specialist Group at the IUCN-World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) highlighted the importance of Protected Areas for conservation of mountain biodiversity, he particularly mentioned how WCPA is working towards identification of Key Biodiversity Areas in the mountains for prioritized conservation activities. He also emphasized on bringing ecologically important areas under protected area network to ensure better conservation of mountain landscapes.
Dr Mustafa Ali Khan, who’s the Team Leader of the Strengthening Climate Change Adaptation in Himalayas programme at the Swiss Cooperation office India spoke about how mountains are intricately linked with the plains and can have long-term impact downstream with mountains getting impacted due to various man-made factors and natural disturbances.
Dr Khan mentioned how climate vulnerability assessment studies conducted by Swiss Cooperation office in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology is making positive impact on ground in persuading the state government to take cognizance of the risk and act proactively. He also emphasized that mountains are not only important for floral and faunal diversity but also for cultural diversity.
Sushil Ramola, President of Integrated Mountain (IMI) Initiative spoke about the interdependency issues in the mountain context. He very nicely captured the larger picture in terms of problems, the mountains areas are facing and what interventions, IMI is taking to counter the ill-impacts. He drew a holistic picture of the entire Indian Himalayan Region covering 12 states of India. He mentioned about the growing migration in the mountain states and how Covid-19 situation is making the situation even more complicated, however he also highlighted a number of possibilities that can create local livelihoods. He said there is no resilience without awareness. He recommended that nature is the wealth of the mountains and we have to use it in a sustainable way. He emphasized on sectors like energy, tourism and agri-tech and involvement of youth. He ended his talk by saying that sustainable mountain development is not an option, it’s a necessity.
Dr Nakul Chettri, Regional Programme Manager of the Transboundary Landscapes at International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, spoke on three key elements of sustainable mountain development i.e., environmental, social and economic aspects. He elaborated the work ICIMOD is doing to promote sustainable development at the transboundary level in the Hindukush-Himalayan (HKH) region. He also highlighted how their effort has resulted into positive cooperation between countries across this region, which eventually may lead to formation of a SAARC like inter-governmental forum for ensuring balanced development in this mountain range. He also emphasized on holistic approach for the sustainable development of the mountains.
92 participants from diverse fields like academics, researchers, NGO’s, foundations, and research institutions participated in the dialogue. Mountain Partnership of FAO and IUCN WCPA were co-organizers for this event.