World Wetlands Day in Nepal

09/02/2006

World Wetlands Day 2006
Programme Achievements from Nepal

Wetlands Day Inaugural Programme

IUCN Nepal in conjunction with its members and partners has expressed the urgency of protecting the livelihoods of wetland dependent communities and urged to seize the opportunity to change the way we manage our wetland environment.

On the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2006, IUCN Nepal co-organised a national programme on February 2 jointly with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) - the administrative authority to Ramsar Convention, and other members and partners.

During the programme, Chief Guest and Secretary of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation Dr. Swoyambhu Man Amatya launched a wetlands poster and a book titled An Inventory and Assessment of Invasive Alien Plant Species of Nepal. Both the products have been produced by IUCN Nepal.

Stating that poverty and wetlands are inseparable and cannot be looked into isolation, Mr. Sagendra Tiwari, Acting Country Representative of IUCN Nepal remarked, "While there is much to be done in wetlands conservation in Nepal, livelihoods alternatives to indigenous communities through integrating sustainable and wise use principles in wetland conservation need to be demonstrated thus underpinning the potential to escape the poverty trap."

Mr. Narayan Prasad Poudel, Director General, DNPWC, lauded the role of all organisations active in wetlands conservation in Nepal and expressed government's commitment in the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands in Nepal as envisaged in the National Wetlands Policy, 2003.

Wetlands Billboard Display

The billboard (right and, on display in Kathmandu, below) depicting the theme "in the face of poverty… wetlands are lifelines" has been developed in Nepali and installed at the busy thoroughfare of Kathmandu, Nepal. The landscape size billboard has been designed and printed in flex that depicts the role of wisely managed wetlands in poverty alleviation. This life size print is intended to instill the many ways that wetlands can and should play a role in poverty alleviation, especially in the eyes of the Kathmanduites.

Stakeholder Consultation Programme

In Jagdishpur Reservoir (a Ramsar Site), IUCN Nepal facilitated a local NGO in organizing orientation programme on wetlands to the affected communities on February 3, 2006. Besides this, a stakeholder consultation programme was also organized with the active participation of the local communities to bring consensus on the conservation and sustainable management of the reservoir.

Wetlands and their management are poorly addressed issues in Kapilbastu District. There is little awareness of the current status as a Ramsar site, resource base (how much and where?), traditional use and wise use concept, or even the need for its conservation and sustainable utilization. Although there exists a few organizations in the district which are expected to provide some sort of wetland expertise and awareness, a lot still has to be done in coordinating their efforts.

Exposure Visit to Schools in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

Students, teachers and community members from Ilam District of eastern Nepal were taken to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (a Ramsar Site) for excursion that helped them understand the values of wetlands, and its links between conservation and the livelihood to the local community.

In addition to local institutions and villagers, about 200 students and teachers representing 10 schools participated in the interactive wetlands special quiz competition that helped them understand importance of wetlands in livelihoods.

This programme is expected to be a benchmark as every year from next year onwards, one school has committed to coordinate the activity and take student members to different field trips to develop better understanding about the values of wetlands. These members in turn will present their experiences to other students of their school in the form of projects and exhibitions and spread awareness about these issues.

The billboard on display in Kathmandu

-- Reported by Deependra Joshi, Programme Officer, IUCN Nepal Country Office

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