World Wetlands Day 2019 Celebrated in Pokhara
In Nepal, an event was organized jointly by the Ministry of Forest and Environment of the federal government, the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment of Gandaki Province and Pokhara Metropolitan City, in Pokhara on February 2, 2019 to mark World Wetlands Day. The event was supported by Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), USAID Funded Hariyo Ban Program through WWF Nepal, ICIMOD, IUCN, UNDP and ZSL. Chief Guest Honorable Minister of Ministry of Forest and Environment Mr. Shakti Bahadur Basnet and Special Guest Honorable Minister of Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment Gandaki Province Mr. Bikas Lamsal had their gracious presence on the event.
During the event, Minister Mr. Basnet appealed for continuous efforts from all stakeholders to protect the wetlands of Nepal. “As the country is moving progressively with implementation of federalism, local people as well as national and international stakeholders have opportunity to work together towards protection of these biodiverse sites,” he said.
“Provincial government is preparing for necessary arrangements to protect the wetlands, and has allocated resources for identification and management of further wetlands as Ramsar sites,” informed Hon. Provincial Minister Mr. Lamsal. Mayor of Pokhara Metropolitan City Mr. Man Bahadur GC appreciated the efforts rounded up by the multiple stakeholders and shed light on the efforts being made by the local level in coordination with adjoining municipalities and rural municipalities to save the wetlands of Nepal.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Gokyo and Associated Lakes, Gosaikunda and Associated Lakes, Jagadishpur Reservoir, Rara Lake, Ghodaghodi, Maipokhari, Phoksundo Lake and Beeshazari Lakes are the sites included on the Ramsar list along with the Lake Cluster of Pokhara Valley (LCPV). LCPV is the youngest Ramsar sites designated on Feb 2, 2016 and consists of nine lakes, which include Phewa, Kamalpokhari, Gunde, Khaste, Neureni, Dipang, Maidi, Begnas, and Rupa. These lakes cover an area of 262 km2 with the water bodies covering an area of 9 km2. Phewa Lake is the largest among other lakes in this cluster and among the second largest in the country.
Wetlands provide different ecosystem services, including income-generating opportunities for trade and business communities. The lakes and waterways are important sources of drinking water and water for biodiversity, fishery, irrigation, and hydropower. Further, the wetlands provide recreational, religious, spiritual and inspirational values to local inhabitants and visitors. Reclamation of land surrounding the lakes and encroachment are posing serious threat to the conservation of wetlands. Similarly, sedimentation and siltation, pollution, spread of invasive alien species, overharvesting of fish and illegal poaching of flora and fauna are other threats posed over the lake basin. These threats have increased management tasks, especially in the context of emerging socio-economic challenges such as changing demography, farming practices, and growing real estate business.
The commitment to achieve goals and objectives set forth by Government of Nepal has been the essential element in conservation of wetlands. The event proved to be an avenue for all to reiterate and focus on the conservation needs and actions moving forward regarding the wetlands.