The Rupa Tal initiative was designed by LI-BIRD (Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development) a Pokhara-based non-profit that has done extensive work on agrobiodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration to improve local livelihoods.
“The increase in fish productivity, the yearly increase in net profits for the Rupa Lake Restoration and Fishery Cooperative and other lakes in Pokhara’s Lake Cluster such as the Begnas, Khaste, Maidi, Dipang are replicating Rupa’s successes with its Payment for Ecosystem Service,” says LI-BIRD’s Balaram Thapa.
Riverbank farming in Mohattori is another of Nepal’s best practices in ecosystem services. Upstream conservation through reforestation, water conservation, and flood control, communities downstream were able to re-cultivate on floodplains not only providing economic welfare but also conserving the riverine ecosystem.
With limited resources, Nepal has conflicting and competing priorities such as food security, livelihoods, development, infrastructure, and protecting land and livestock. Ecosystem protection is not high on the list of priorities.
Nepal is now working with its international partners on a green post-Covid recovery framework that addresses climate impact, improve livelihoods, and build resilience.
“This support framework aims to accelerate low-carbon, climate-resilient development by prioritising green job creation and investment to maximise Nepal’s growth, reduce emissions and vulnerability, and is sustainable,” says Simon Lucas of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in Kathmandu.
Every dollar spent on ecosystem restoration can create up to 30 dollars in economic benefit. The use of nature-based solutions not only protects the environment, but provides economic benefit to local communities.
As the experience of Pokhara and Mahottari have shown, protecting the ecosystem preserves biodiversity, conserves natural resources, strengthens local economies and allows local people to adapt to the climate crisis.
Diya Rijal is a communication consultant for the UK Government-funded Policy and Institutions Facility.