Nepal’s first and the most important conservation event on Wetland “International Wetland Symposium (IWS)’ concluded issuing 9-point ‘Pokhara Declaration’ which will be valuable for the sustainable use, management and governance of our wetland resources in future
The declaration emphasizes on time relevant reformation of existing policy in wetlands conservation and formation of network in local, national and international levels for the technical and expertise exchange for the better management of the wetlands in Nepal. It also includes the local level awareness programme on wetland education and formulation of integrated work plan to reduce adverse effect of climate change on wetlands.
The symposium aims to provide an opportunity to enhance technical understanding and exchange pertinent issues and ideas in the area of wetlands and their sustainable utilization. It brings around 90 delegates together from 13 countries to bright idea on different four themes.
The 3-day long event ended up with the sharing of knowledge and experience in conserving and managing wetlands around the world mainly focusing on four themes of Wetlands and Biodiversity, Wetlands and Climate Change, Wetland Governance and Wetlands and Ecosystem Services. Altogether, 45 technical papers were presented in the programme.
In the closing ceremony of the symposium, Kirshna Chandra Paudel, secretary at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) stressed that the government will recommend an integrated wetland, which includes lakes like Begnas, Rupa and many others besides Fewa, for its inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. “Earlier, we had planned to make separate recommendations for inclusion of only a few lakes of Kaski into the Ramsar list,” Poudel said. “Now, we´re planning to recommend an integrated wetland instead of various scattered wetlands.”
“If we succeed in listing wetlands of Kaski as Ramsar sites, we can draw the world´s attention on their conservation,” Poudel added. “The local people, especially those who directly benefit from Kaski´s lakes, must help us in our efforts to include them into the Ramsar list.”
As of now, Nepal has only nine lakes included in the Ramsar list. Koshi Tappu, Jagdishpur Reservoir, Ghodaghodi lake area, Bishazaari and associated lakes, Rara lake, Foksundo lake, Gosaikunda lake, Gokyo and associated lakes and Mai Pokhara have so far been incorporated in the Ramsar list.
For a wetland to be included in the Ramsar list, a radius of 100 meters from its area must be free of physical infrastructures. As people increasingly build their houses near lakes in Pokhara, experts fear that the unbridled construction works may hinder the government´s efforts to introduce an integrated wetland of international importance.
Addressing the keynote speech, Dr. Brij Gopal from India said, “Wetlands, most diverse ecosystem after rainforest, are the providers and regulators of water and should be conserved for sustaining life upstream in the Himalayas as well as downstream in the ocean.” He further stressed that if wetlands are not conserved and given due attention, then no other ecosystems can be sustained.
The symposium is being organized under the aegis of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation in partnerships with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), ICIMOD and National Trust for Nature Conservation.