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A holistic landscape approach to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity in Nepal


2012 saw the end of the 'Western Terai Landscape Complex Project', an 8-year innovative project to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity at the landscape level while addressing the livelihood needs of farmers living near protected areas in Nepal.


The project is a joint initiative of the Government of Nepal and seven national and international organizations, including Bioversity International. Bioversity worked closely with the Nepal Agriculture Research Council and local non-governmental organization LI-BIRD on implementing community-based biodiversity management practices in the region.


“The purpose of our participation was to mainstream good farming practices and agricultural biodiversity management at a landscape scale,” says Bhuwon Sthapit, Bioversity International.


Farmers’ organizations responsible for management and conservation of agricultural biodiversity, called Biodiversity Conservation and Development Committees, were set up in six villages. A series of training workshops, diversity fairs, participatory seed exchanges, participatory plant breeding and community seedbanks were organized to strengthen farmers’ awareness of local biodiversity and its sustainable use.


A community biodiversity management fund was also set up with a start-up contribution from the project and farmers’ monthly savings. The fund acts as a low-interest loan system for farmers and local women’s groups to conduct income generating activities such as goat and pig rearing, poultry farming and vegetable production, with the condition that they work together to support community conservation efforts.


“An important lesson from the project,” continues Sthapit, “is the challenge of getting stakeholders to work together when different interests are involved. But understanding the perspectives of different sectors is also important for finding holistic solutions that match community priorities.”



Photo: Tharu women participating in seed exchange, Nepal - Credit: Bioversity International/B. Sthapit