Nepal fourth national report

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Government of Nepal

Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation

Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal March 2009






Published by:

Government of Nepal

Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation

Tel: +977 1 4220 067 / 4224 892

Fax: +977 1 4223 868 / 4224 892


Email: mfsced(

Review Team Uday R. Sharma, PhD. Pralad Yonzon, PhD. Eklabya Sharma, PhD.

Prepared By:

Prof. Ram Prasad Chaudhary Krishna Chandra Paudel, PhD. Sudhir Kumar Koirala

Edited and Processed by:

Deependra Joshi

National Report Coordination Team

1.Dr. K.C. Paudel

  1. Dr. S.B. Bajracharya

  2. Dr. M.P. Upadhyay

  3. Dr. Narendra Man Babu Pradhan

  4. Prof. Madan Koirala

  5. Prof. Pramod Kumar Jha

  6. Dibya Gurung

  7. Sagar Kumar Rimal

  8. Sudhir Kumar Koirala









Member and Contact Person—MFSC

The Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation encourages the usage of this material for educational and non-profit purpose, with appropriate credit to the publisher. The Ministry appreciates recieving a copy of any publication that uses this report as a source.

Reproduction of this publication for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written permission of the copyright holder.

© Government of Nepal

Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation

Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal

Front Cover Photographs© Ram P. Chaudhary, Deependra Joshi and Bird Conservation Nepal. Back Cover Photograph © Deependra Joshi

Design and Production by: Ultimate Marketing (P.) Ltd.

Ranibari, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal Tel: 4352223, Fax: 4365195 E-mail:



Government of Nepal

M inistry of Forests and Soil Conservation

Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal March 2009



First of all, my team would like to thank the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation who entrusted us to bear the overall responsibility for processing the Nepal Fourth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Nepal Fourth National Report to the CBD is an outcome of the extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders comprising various cross-section of society in general and the participants of all those workshops held during the preparation of the report in particular. Regular contacts from CBD Secretariat was instrumental and inspiring as it provided valuable guidance and enriched with the comments in the first draft.

Unlike other reports, this report is different because of broader consultations among stakeholders through mass media, publications, interview in FM radios, visits to the different relevant institutions that made the report more realistic and created a sense of common belongingness. I am extremely grateful to the members of the National Report Coordination Team withour their hard work this report would not have been made possible. Also, I would like to thank all the participants who have contributed their time and effort to preparte this report.

The consultant team comprising Prof. Ram Prasad Chaudhary (Team Leader) and Mr. Surya Prasad Khanal deserve special thanks for preparing quality report on time. I also extend sincere thanks to the peer reviewers Dr. Uday R Sharma (MFSC), Dr. Pralad Yonzon (Resources Himalaya) and Dr. Eklabya Sharma (ICIMOD), Dr. Siddhartha Bajra Bajracharya (National Trust for Nature Conservation), Mr. Vijaya P. Singh (UNDP Nepal), and Mr. Jhamak B. Karki pNPWC) for their contribution in enhancing the quality of the report, and Mr. Deependra Joshi for excellent editing.

I would like to pay special thanks to the Heads of the Departments and Regional Directorates under the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation for their invaluable support during the report preparation process. I am also thankful to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Ministry of Local Development, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Nepal Agricultural Research Council, UNDP Nepal, Resources Himalaya, ICIMOD, BCN, WWF, IUCN, NTNC, National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities, Federation of Community Forest Users Nepal, Biodiversity Sector Assistance Project-Siwaliks and Terai, Western Terai Landscape Complex Project and HIMAWANTI for their every support during report preparation.

I am also grateful to Mr. Lijie Cai, Programme Officer, CBD/UNEP, for providing timely comments on the first draft.

Finally, I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to all who contributed a lot in various consultation workshops during the preparation report.

Krishna Chandra Paudel, PhD.


Nepal Fourth National Report Coordination Team and

Director General, Department of Forests.


Executive Summary

The goal

In 2002, Nepal developed a comprehensive Nepal Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) with the participation of a broad cross-section of Nepali society as well as in consultation with international experts to fulfil its obligations of being a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Nepal signed the CBD on June 12, 1992, which was ratified by the Nepali parliament on November 23, 1993, and has been enforced in Nepal since February 21, 1994. The Government of Nepal (GoN) carried out extensive consultations with different stakeholders and experts and prioritised 13 concept projects for the period of 2006-2010 that comprises a cross-sectoral and six sectoral thematic areas such as protected areas, forests, rangelands, agriculture, wetlands and mountains; and are published in the Nepal Biodiversity Strategy Implementation Plan (NBSIP).

The Nepal Fourth National Report to the CBD has been prepared strictly following the (UNEP/CBD/4NR/CBW-ASI/1/1) guidelines, and is organised into four chapters.

  • Chapter 1 comprises an overview of biodiversity status,
    trends and threats.

  • Chapter 2 deals with current status of Nepal Biodiversity
    Strategy and Nepal Biodiversity Strategy Implementation

Chapters presents sectoral and cross-sectoral integration of mainstreaming biodiversity considerations. Chapter 4 draws conclusions by analysing progress towards the Convention on Biological Diversity's 2010 targets and implementation of the NBS.

Chapter 1: Biodiversity Assessment:

An (overview of Status, Trends and Threats

Nepal, situated in the central Himalaya, occupies a total area of 147,181 km2. About 86% of the total land area is covered by hills and high mountains, and the remaining 14% are the flat lands of the Tarai with altitudes varying from some 67m asl in the south-eastern Tarai to 8,848m at the peak of the world's highest mountain, Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) in the north. Nepal's biodiversity at ecosystem and habitat, species and gene levels is a reflection of its unique geographic position and wide altitudinal and diverse climatic conditions.

The latest physiographic data shows that Nepal harbours 29% forest area, 10.6% shrubland and degraded forest, 12% grassland, 21 % farmland, 2.6% water body, 7% uncultivated inclusions, and

17.8% others. The population in 2007 is estimated at 26 million; increasing from 23 million in 2001 with an annual population growth of 2.25%.

1.1 Ecosystem and habitat diversity

Nepal lies at a transition zone comprising six floristic regions. The country is a part of biodiversity hotspot, among four hotspots occurring in the Himalayan region. There are six biomes occurring in Nepal, i.e. only two less than India. In terms of Global 200 Ecoregions, Nepal hosts nine important ecoregions among 60 ecoregions found in the Himalayan region. As many as 35 forest types and 118 ecosystems have been classified on the basis of altitudinal, climatic variations and vegetation types.

Approximately, 3.56 million ha of forests have been estimated potential for community forest in Nepal. The latest figure shows that approximately 1.23 million ha (34.6% of the potential community forest area) of forests are handed over to 14,431 Forest User Groups (FUGs) benefiting 1.66 million households (HH) (about 40% of Nepal's total HH) by the end of October 2008. Of these, women FUGs manage 23,258 ha of community forests. A total of 34,359 ha forests were handed over to the communities before 1992. The area increased to

1.02 million ha between 1992-2002, and to 1.23 million ha

between 2002-2008. The trend of national forest hand over
to the communities shows that the community forests were
handed over at a high rate (2882%) in one decade during the
period 1992-2002, whereas the trend was rather slow (20%)
during 2002-2008. One of the reasons for the slow process
could be attributed to heightened conflict in the country. The
trend of community forest handing over is higher in hills than
the Tarai.

The leasehold forestry programme has been implemented in 28 districts of Nepal. By the end of October 2008, over 17,320 ha of national forests were leased to 3,417 user groups involving more than 29,892 households. While the community forest is spreading fast, the handing over process has been slow because of relatively more time taken in the preparation and implementation of operational forest management plans.

So far, 16 protected areas have been declared in the country covering an area of 28,999 km2, i.e. 19.7% of the total area of Nepal, and are established in three different ecological zones. They belong to different categories, comprising a total of 9 national parks (35.5% of the total protected areas), 3


wildlife reserves (3.37%), 3 conservation areas (39.05%), 1 hunting reserve (4.56%) and 11 buffer zones (17.52%) around PAs. The distribution of PAs in Nepal shows that highlands in general are well protected in terms of coverage; whereas midhills and Tarai are less represented under protected area system.

Rangelands in Nepal are estimated to cover 1.75 million ha, nearly about 12% of the country's total area. The rangelands have high biodiversity. They provide habitat for various flowering plants, including endemic species and wildlife as well as globally threatened species. In addition, these grasslands also sustain domestic livestock, an important source of local livelihoods. The rangeland ecosystems are under high grazing pressure and on the verge of depletion of palatable species, especially the legume components.

Wetlands of Nepal comprise about 2.6% of the country's area. Wetlands are rich in biodiversity supporting habitat for 172 species of birds and major wetland plants, including threatened plant and animal species. Wetland sites of international importance show wide disparity in distribution at altitudinal zones. A total of 34,455 ha has been designated under the Ramsar site, and of these approximately 68.2% (23,488 ha) wetland sites are located in the Tarai followed by 31.6% (10,877 ha) in the High Himalaya; whereas midhills remain poorly represented, less than 1% (90 ha). Wetland ecosystem is under threat from encroachment of wetland habitats, unsustainable harvest of wetland resources (over-fishing and indiscriminate use of poison and dynamite), industrial pollution, agricultural run-off, siltation and the introduction of exotic and invasive species into wetland ecosystems.

About 21 % of the total land area of Nepal is used for agriculture. Principal crops grown are rice (45%), maize (20%), wheat (18%), millet (5%) and potatoes (3%), followed by sugarcane, jute, cotton, tea, barley, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Similarly, horticultural diversity, although not well documented in Nepal, includes over 100 high yielding varieties of various fruit crops. There is also a great diversity in indigenous livestock breeds in Nepal. Agrodiversity of Nepal is in a state of depletion which is primarily due to the destruction of natural habitat, over­grazing, land fragmentation, commercialization of agriculture, indiscriminate use of pesticides, and the extension of modern high-yielding varieties.

Mountain ecosystem in Nepal comprises high number of endemic species occurring in subalpine and alpine zones. The mountain programme adopted in 2004 (COP 7) aims to make a significant reduction of mountain biological diversity loss by 2010 at global, regional and national levels. However, economic marginalization (poverty), ecological fragility and instability of

high mountain environments, deforestation, poor management of natural resources, and inappropriate farming practices are primary threats to mountain biodiversity.

Priority habitat includes Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and Important Plant Areas (IPAs). Given the small size of the country, there are 27 IBAs in Nepal hosting richest bird species in Asia. Habitat loss and its degradation, wetland degradation, poisoning by diclofenac and pesticide, hunting and trapping, invasive alien species, climate change, etc. are major threats to the very survival of birds. Population study of Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) and River Tern (Sterna aurantia) at Koshi barrage undertaken at regular intervals after 1990s has been found declining. However, there exists some promising examples of maintaining population of threatened bird species in wild; one of them is the population of Cheer pheasant (Catreus wallichi) in Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve.

A total of 54 Important Plant Areas (IPAs) comprising 230 IPAs for medicinal plants and NTFPs have been provisionally identified. Estimates for the number of medicinal plant species in Nepal range from 593 to 1,700 species. In the mountains of Nepal, 10-100% of households are involved in the collection of medicinal plants and other NTFPs; and in certain rural areas this contributes up to 50% of the family income. Volume of trade of NTFPs from Nepal Himalaya is not clearly known, and estimated between 10-15 thousand tons of raw NTFPs annually between worth US $ 8.6 million to US $ over 35 million. Major conservation issues include over-harvesting (premature and unsustainable harvesting) due to trade pressure (which is often undeclared in most cases), habitat destruction, livestock grazing, forest fire, etc.

1.2 Species diversity

Species richness among floral diversity comprises Lichens 465 species (2.3% of the global diversity); Fungi 1,822 species (2.4%); Algae 687 species (2.6%); Bryophytes 853 species (5.1%); Pteridophytes 534 species (4.71%); Gymnosperms 27 species (5.1%); and Angiosperms 5,856 species (2.7%). Faunal diversity includes Platyhelminthes 168 species (1.4%); Spiders 144 species (0.2%); Insects 5,052 species (0.7%); Butterflies 640 species and Moths 2,253 species (together 2.6%); Fishes 182 species (1.0%); Amphibians 77 (1.84%); Reptiles 118 species (1.87%); Birds 863 species (9.53%); and Mammals 181 species (4.52%). Taxonomic research has been undertaken in Nepal to update the number of taxa (species and subspecies levels mainly) with focus on some selected groups. For instance, the number of bryophytes has been increased to 1,150 species; angiosperms 6,391 species (including subspecies levels); spiders 175 species and butterflies 785 species/subspecies; fishes 187 species; mammals 208 species; and 10 species of earthworms. There are strong correlations between species


richness and altitude observed at four groups of plant species in Nepal Himalaya. Species richness has been observed maximum at 1,500m for angiosperms; 2,800m for liverworts; 2,500m for mosses; and 1,900m for ferns.

1.3 Genetic diversity

Genetic diversity among wild species is least known in Nepal indicating much scopeforfuture research. However, asubstantial genetic diversity is inferred among both flora and fauna, and is apparent in terms of morphological features. Agricultural crops have high genetic diversity relative to other food crops. The seed repository of plant genetic resources section at NARC has preserved 10,781 accessions of the orthodox seeds collected from different regions of the country. Altogether, 4,151 accessions were characterized before 1999, and by now the number has reached 5,662 by adding 200-565 accessions each year between 2000-2007 with the help of molecular techniques (Isozyme, RAPD and Microsatelite).

1.4 Protected and threatened species

The Government of Nepal has imposed restrictions on the export of 12 plant species and one forest product under the Forest Act (1993). Similarly, 27 mammal species, 9 bird species, and 3 reptile species have been given legal protection under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1973). Protected animals of Nepal are also being monitored through census. The recent tiger census shows that the population of tiger is being maintained since the census of 1999/2000. Similarly, population of snow leopard (Uncia uncia) in Nepal is estimated between 350-500 out of estimated 4500-7500 snow leopard in the world. There is an urgent need to update the list of other protected and threatened species with their status and distribution.

1.5 Endemic species

Approximately, 342 plant species and 160 animal species have been reported as being endemic to Nepal concentrated at subalpine and alpine zones. The maximum angiosperms species endemic to Nepal lies at 3,800-4,200m.

1.6 Major threats to biodiversity

The threats to biodiversity are at the level of ecosystem, species and gene with little difference between them in their magnitude.

• The threats to ecosystem include habitat loss, deforestation, fire, grazing, illegal timber harvesting, haphazard and unmanaged tourism, pollution, over-fishing, poaching, climate change, etc. The threats to species include over-exploitation of species, alien species and climate change.

• The threats to genetic resources include loss of local land races, lossof genetic variability, increased vulnerability to pests and diseases.

1.7 Root cause of loss of biodiversity

The weaknesses, gaps, difficulties and other problems in conserving biological diversity in Nepal are attributed to socio-economic causes (poverty and population growth); natural causes (landslides, flood and drought); and anthropogenic causes (pollution, fire, over-grazing, introduction of alien species, illegal trade and hunting). Two other issues affecting biodiversity in Nepal include: (i) Climate change (global warming); and (ii) political conflict for over a decade.

Nepal is rich in biodiversity at all levels disproportionate to the area of the country. The threats to biodiversity are also alarming at all levels. Therefore, it is suggested to develop biodiversity indicators that are used to assess the status of biodiversity in Nepal, monitor the trends of biological diversity, and assess the threats to fulfil the commitments of the country as outlined in the CBD.

Chapter 2: Current Status of Nepal Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

2.1 Overview

The Nepal Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) is an important tool for implementing the provisions under CBD. It serves as an overall framework for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and biological resources through the management of habitat, species and genetic diversity in the country.

The Nepal Biodiversity Strategy Implementation Plan (NBSIP) is a framework to materialize the vision of the NBS into practical actions for effective conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of its resources. The overall goal of the NBSIP is to contribute to achieve the goals and objectives of NBS through its successful implementation of the conservation of biological diversity, the maintenance of ecological processes, and the equitable sharing of the benefits accrued. The objectives of the NBSIP set for the period of 2006-2010 are to: (i) conserve biodiversity of Nepal within and outside protected areas; (ii) identify, develop and establish legislative, policy and strategic measures necessary to conserve, sustainably utilise and provide access to and share benefits of Nepal's biological resources; (iii) conserve endangered species of wildlife; (iv) develop legislation (viz. sui generis legislation, access to genetic resources and benefit sharing), sub-sectoral policies and strategic measures; (v) develop sustainable eco-friendly rural tourism; and (vi) domesticate NTFPs and explore marketing opportunities for poverty reduction.



The NBSIP, developed in 2006, has identified 13 priority concept projects to be implemented by relevant executing agencies (mostly national) in consultation with the concerned stakeholders. These projects belong to seven sectors that include six thematic areas and one cross-sectoral area. Altogether, 24 criteria are used to select the priority projects comprising: (i) biological criteria; (ii) socio-economic criteria,;and (iii) socio-cultural criteria. In addition, 14 cross-cutting criteria related to poverty reduction, cultural heritage, environment and ecotourism were also used. The projects were ranked in terms of priority determined by the concerned stakeholders.

International targets and indicators recommended by COP 7 (2004) were not adequately considered during the development of NBSIP and the Nepal Third Report to the CBD. So, an attempt in the Nepal Fourth National Report has also been made to identify Nepal's biodiversity target for 2010 based on the assessment of progress made in the implementation of all 13 prioritised concept projects identified under NBSIP. The parameters used to identify the status of the priority projects are qualitative and adapted from the Millennium Development Goals of Nepal (2005) with some modifications. For example: 'Will objectives be reached' has four categories: (i) Achieved; (ii) Likely; (iii) Less likely; and (iv) Lack of data. The next parameter used is 'Status of supportive environment', also comprises four categories: (i) Strong; (ii) Fair; (iii) Weak but improving; and (iv) Weak.

In the category 'Will the objectives be reached,' more than 50% of the objectives of the 13 priority projects identified under NBSIP show progressive trend and are considered likely to be achieved. These objectives are found to be of high level consistency, well focused and community-oriented. Similarly, the status of supportive environment in general is 'Weak' for the priority projects, particularly those projects that require coordination between two or more institutions and additional funding. However, many project objectives are having 'Fair' supportive environment and may be achieved by 2010.

A general review of the NBSIP during the preparation of this report has underpinned the need of a greater attention on key priorities that are linked to participatory conservation approaches with livelihoods links. For specific objectives of the projects, quantitative, measurable and realistic targets need to be developed by 2010 for the period of 2011-2015. The process has been initiated by the MFSC.

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