World Wetlands Day 2005 -- Nepal

15/03/2005

NEPAL

World Wetlands Day 2005 Programmes

- by Deependra Joshi

As in the past, IUCN Nepal facilitated the celebration of World Wetlands Day 2005 with great enthusiasm through extensive awareness raising programmes in many parts of the country. The programmes were organized in collaboration with the government, members, partners, school groups, community as well as media advocating on the importance of wetland conservation. This year's focus of the celebration was in inculcating wetlands awareness in all the Ramsar sites in Nepal, with special focus on the two sites where the conservation attention has not been inadequate despite three years of enlisting them as the Ramsar site. IUCN Nepal's efforts in sensitizing the local communities and stakeholders in Jagdishpur Reservoir in Kapilbastu and Beeshazari Tal in Chitwan have been applauded by the respective local communities.

FROM KAPILBASTU TO KOSHI TAPPU

In Kapilbastu, IUCN worked jointly with Lumbini Kapilbastu Bachao Abhiyan (an IUCN partner NGO, with whom we have worked on Ajigara Tal conservation) in organizing a local level day-long stakeholder consultation workshop at the Jagdishpur reservoir on 30 January 2005. The workshop was attended by over 160 individuals who shared their ideas for the scientific management of the wetland. During the programme, various awareness raising materials such as brochures, posters, special wetlands edition magazines and flyers, were distributed to the communities.

The workshop resulted in generating a renewed interest in the biological significance, and as a result, it has led to a better understanding of the economic and cultural values of the wetland. The participants felt the need of an integrated approach to manage the reservoir, which achieves the conservation and wise use of wetland biodiversity.

It is expected that IUCN Nepal's timely advocacy in wetlands conservation in Jagdishpur will surely generate a sense of ownership at a time when the government is neither giving due attention nor allocating any resource and support for its conservation.

In Chitwan, the programmes were mainly aimed at mobilizing the youth in arousing conservation education and awareness amongst the local school children and to provide information about the importance of the wetlands situated in the buffer zone and corridor from the perspective of landscape level management.

The school programme included students' rally which called for "preserving wetlands for biodiversity and livelihood of indigenous people." A street rally of youth and students was organized from Bharatpur to the entrance point of the lake. The rally consisted of four hundred students from surrounding schools, local activists, journalists and government officials. The participants of the rally were seen carrying banners and placards with slogans and messages for wetland conservation.

A separate interaction programme was also organized in Tikauli, Chitwan, to sensitize the local NGOs about their role in saving the wetland. The meeting concluded with recommendations of key actions for the conservation of Beeshazari Tal.

In Koshi Tappu, several programmes were organized on the occasion of the World Wetlands Day 2005. Wetland exhibitions, 5th Koshi Tappu Migratory Bird Festival, bird count, etc were among the most important activities undertaken during the programme.

Various cultural programmes, blood donations, learning about the fauna and flora of wetlands, cycle rallies, guided tour for students and media, and press conference were also organized during the bird festival.

In Kathmandu, IUCN Nepal organized a sensitization programme on wetlands for environmental journalists jointly with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and WWF Nepal. On the occasion, Secretary of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation Mr. Ananta Raj Pandey launched the newly published English version of the National Wetlands Policy and two posters on the theme "There is Wealth in Wetland Diversity-don't lost it!". The billboard was also designed, printed and replaced by the same theme at the premises of the Department of Watershed and Soil Conservation, Babarmahal. Besides, numerous wetlands-related articles and features aimed at generating awareness were published through the national mass media. The wetland issue remained fairly well advocated in 18 FM radio stations across Nepal, television and mainstream print media.

Again, IUCN Nepal published 5000 copies of a special edition marking the wetlands day 2005 through Paryabaran (an environmental monthly magazine). The magazine has been distributed to all the districts through its existing networks of eco clubs and members.

Conclusion

Wetlands have aroused considerable attention in recent years. Through IUCN Nepal's field level awareness raising interventions this year, we can be optimistic that once the people are made aware, educated and trained, they will be able to understand the importance, threats and possible solutions for conservation and management of wetlands. Hence, it is imperative to educate the local communities about the value of wetlands (especially for the threatened Ramsar sites) and its wise use.

Cultural values at Koshi Tappu

Community interaction at Ramsar site

IUCN Nepal's local-language version of the Ramsar WWD poster

Weaving wetland products

"There's wealth in wetland diversity
- don't lose it!"

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