SGF news: Nepal’s project for the Mai Pokhari Ramsar Site

SGF news: Nepal’s project for the Mai Pokhari Ramsar Site

10 August 2013

Japan-funded Small Grant Fund project successfully completed in Mai Pokhari Ramsar Site, Nepal (Project code: SGF/10/NP/02)

Community-Centered Wetland Conservation Project in Mai Pokhari Ramsar Site, Nepal

The East Foundation (TEF), a non-governmental organization established in 1998 in Sankhuwasabha District, Nepal, aims to conserve biodiversity through working with local stakeholders and partners. Thanks to the generous contribution of the government of Japan to the Convention’s Small Grants Fund program, the Foundation was able to carry out a project in Mai Pokhari Ramsar Site that focused on community-based wetland management and the strengthening of existing conservation efforts.

The Mai Pokhari Ramsar Site is a mid-hill wetland of religious significance in eastern Ilam district of Nepal that was designated as a Wetland of International Importance in 2008. It is recharged from natural springs and rainwater and provides a major source of fresh water for local communities. The wetland has been facing pressures from the introduction of invasive species, encroachment into forest land, unplanned construction, and settlement growth along the wetland trails. The underlying cause of these problems has been linked to the lack of knowledge and awareness about the value of the wetland and its functions, the absence of a management plan, and conflicts arising from multiple tenure systems.

Under this project, TEF developed the Management Plan of Mai Pokhari Ramsar Site (2012) based on ecological and socio-cultural studies, and raised people’s awareness of the value of the Convention on Wetlands and of the Ramsar Site amongst the local community. This was done in close cooperation with the Ilam District Forest Office, the Ilam District Development Committee, the Department of Forests and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, with the strong involvement of local students’ eco-clubs and local conservation centers and specialists. The management plan was officially approved by the government at the central level on August 30, 2012 and its implementation is currently under way, facilitated by a newly formed Site Management Committee. Activities that are already visible on the ground include the demarcation of borders, the development and dissemination of the Site’s Code of Conduct, and the monitoring of water quality and key species at the Site. Wetland ecotourism is being developed thanks to additional funds received from a government project on tourism development.

TEF would like to express its gratitude and appreciation to the Ramsar Secretariat’s Asia-Oceania Regional team for their cooperation and help, and to the government of Japan for their contribution which made this project possible.

Photos courtesy of The East Foundation