Framework for integrated ecosystem management in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (for pilot testing within transboundary landscapes)

Framework for integrated ecosystem management in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (for pilot testing within transboundary landscapes)

Management of ecosystems for sustaining services is a major focus area of the transboundary landscapes programme of ICIMOD. In line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the transboundary landscapes programme aims to sustain mountain biodiversity and ecosystems through better monitoring, management, valuation, conservation and restoration in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region.

The mountain ecosystems in the HKH are under constant stress due to the rapidly increasing demand for ecosystem goods and services. Fragmentation and degradation of natural habitats, loss of catchment productivity, proliferating alien invasive species, frequent fires, and increased human-wildlife conflicts are some of the manifestations of stress on ecosystems. At the same time, dependence of local communities on biomass resources is increasing steadily. This rising threat to the mountain ecosystems calls for an integrated ecosystem management strategy based on participatory approaches and ecosystem based adaptation for sustainability.

This framework document has been prepared by the team at ICIMOD working on various aspects of ecosystem management in collaboration with the United Nations Environment – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP–WCMC), with technical inputs from eminent ecologists, gender and governance specialists, sociologists and economists from the region. The document provides basic background, principles and key terms for ecosystem management, major considerations in the context of the HKH and the process and practical steps required for the management of ecosystems.

The framework recognizes the need to integrate different interventions and analyse the biophysical, gender, governance and socioeconomic aspects of ecosystem services assessment. It recommends taking four major steps after identifying the area to be managed and establishing a stakeholders’ forum: (1) Outlining the biophysical and socioeconomic context of the ecosystems; (2) Defining goals and objectives based on shared vision and identification of impact indicators; (3) Designing ecosystem management strategies and plans; and (4) Implementing and adapting the ecosystem management plan. These four steps form a cycle as indicated in the framework diagram, continuously incorporating learning and feedback to strengthen the management framework. Central to the management framework is information management, influencing policy and programmes, and building the scope for future innovations.

The framework also provides an indicative list of ecosystem services to be customised and elaborated for each pilot site, key references dealing with ecosystem management and a few questions for developing strategies for managing ecosystem services. This framework document will be circulated among the key partners in the transboundary landscapes of the HKH for a thorough review and testing its applicability in pilot areas. The framework will be continuously modified and refined to address site-specific issues and incorporate the input of partners in the transboundary landscapes.

The report was co-funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Nepal.