Designation of Lake-Cluster of the Pokhara Valley of West Nepal in the Ramsar List (Project code: SGF/08/NP/01)
The National Lake Conservation Development Committee (NLCDC) is a national authority tasked with the coordination and implementation of all lake-related conservation activities in Nepal. In 2008, the Committee received support from the Ramsar Convention’s Small Grants Fund programme to carry out a project in Pokhara Valley to conduct a participatory biodiversity and socio-economic assessment of the site and prepare for its designation as a Ramsar Site. The project aimed to communicate the values of the wetland to resident communities and involve them in the preparation for its inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Pokhara valley is a popular tourist destination with remarkable aesthetic, cultural and natural values. It consists of nine tectonic lakes surrounded by dense forests and the Annapurna Himalayan range. The Phewa, Begnas and Rupa lakes are the largest of them and provide a resting place for several species of migratory birds, as well as providing habitat for numerous native fish species. These lakes face numerous pressures from surrounding activities, including siltation caused by landslides and soil erosion, over-extraction of water for tourist facilities, and pollution from agricultural run-off and domestic wastewater, as well as egg collection and hunting.
The project helped compile and complete the scattered data on the ecological and socio-economic values of the site for the completion of the required Ramsar Information Sheet. A training kit for wetland conservation was produced and a total of 103 participants from the areas surrounding the nine lakes, including women and the lake-dependent Jalahari local community, participated in the training. A wetland assessment tool was prepared and 20 members of the local community were trained on its application, to help assess the ecological, hydrological and socio-economic values of the lake. A needs assessment workshop was organized to consult with the local communities on the main issues they face, as well as to build consensus and raise awareness about the significance and benefits of Ramsar Site designation. The RIS for the site was drafted and circulated amongst the various district authorities, municipalities, NGOs and the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Nepal, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, for their review and input, before being submitted to the Ramsar Secretariat.
Overall, the project helped drive a participatory approach and enabled communities to understand the values of their wetlands and the benefits of Ramsar Site designation Further joint work at the central level will be continued with Nepal’s Department of Forests and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation to endorse the listing of the Phewa-Begnas-Rupa and Associated Lakes (Lake Cluster of Pokhara Valley) site as a Wetland of International Importance and submit it to the government cabinet for final approval.