Terai Arc Landscape recognized as UN World Restoration Flagship

Posted on 13 February 2024

Kathmandu, Nepal, 13 February 2024 – The Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) has today been recognized and honored as one of the seven UN World Restoration Flagships as part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This exceptional conservation outcome has been possible under the leadership of the Government, stewardship of the communities and engagement of civil society. This collaborative effort has helped protect and restore forests, increase species population, enhance ecosystem services and transborder corridor functionality. This has garnered international recognition, positioning the Terai Arc Landscape as a pioneer in implementing landscape-level conservation practices worldwide.

Extending over 900 km from the Bagmati River, Nepal, in the east to the Yamuna River, India, in the west, TAL covers an expansive area of 51,002 km2. In Nepal, the area extends from the Bagmati River in the east to the Mahakali River in the west covering six protected areas, four forest conservation areas, three Ramsar sites and several critical corridors, and spreads over 24,710.13 km2.

TAL envisions a globally unique landscape where biodiversity is conserved, ecological integrity is safeguarded, and the socio-economic well-being of the people is secured. In line with the 50-year vision, TAL aims to conserve ecosystems of the Terai and Churia hills while ensuring the safeguard the rights of indigenous people and local community. The first 10-year TAL Strategy and Implementation Plan (2004-2014) provided a touchstone to guide and address conservation management issues and to tackle priority threats to make TAL an ecologically functional landscape. The second Strategy and Action Plan (2015–2025) has continued to guide and build on the conservation successes in TAL to ensure socio-ecological integrity of the TAL over the next decade and beyond.

The initiative which started with the launch of the Terai Arc Landscape Program in 2001 has already brought back to life 66,800 hectares of forest, increased the population of rhinos from 409 in 2005 to 752 in 2021 and nearly tripled its tiger population from 121 in 2010 to 355 in 2022. The restoration success helped Nepal claim the result-based payment of USD 45 million through REDD+. The program has also benefitted the local community through nature-based tourism, home stays, green enterprises, and many other initiatives through the engagement of local community members, community forest users, buffer zone communities, community-based anti-poaching units, citizen scientists and forest watchers.

“The transboundary Terai Arc Landscape serves not only as a biodiversity hotspot – it also serves as a true testament to the effectiveness of the landscape approach of conservation,” said Dr. Birendra Prasad Mahato, Minister of Forests and Environment of Nepal. “We are incredibly grateful for this recognition from the UN and are encouraged to continue tackling existing and new challenges faced by our forests, wildlife, and communities.”

The Terai Arc Landscape initiative does not protect nature by pulling people out of it, but by bringing people and nature closer together,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “After decades of uncontrolled exploitation and degradation, resources are now urgently needed to rebuild that connection and restore vital ecosystems. This is key to tackling climate change, biodiversity loss, and rampant pollution.”

As a World Restoration Flagship, the Terai Arc Landscape is recognized as one of the best examples of large-scale and long-term ecosystem restoration in any country or region, embodying the 10 Restoration Principles of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

 “WWF’s continued support is highly appreciated for this huge success!”- Mr. Dipak Gyawali, Deputy Director General of Department of Forests and Soil Conservation. “Two decades of collective efforts have made this achievement possible.”- Mr. Bed Kumar Dhakal, Officiating Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

WWF NEPAL is grateful and thanks the various agencies of the Government of Nepal, local communities, conservation partners, donors, and supporters for having us a partner in this incredible journey towards combined restoration efforts. Congratulations to all the concerned stakeholders for this historic achievement!”- Dr. Ghana Shyam Gurung, Country Representative, WWF Nepal.
Restored forest in Terai Arc Landscape
© WWF Nepal/ Ananta Ram Bhandari
Bengal tiger in Bardia National Park, Nepal
© Shutterstock / PACO COMO / WWF-International