Himalayas on the Brink- ICIMOD

Himalayas on the Brink- ICIMOD

Scientists have declared the Hindu Kush Himalaya, one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, a ‘biosphere on the brink’ as a major global meeting of biodiversity experts opened in Kathmandu this month.

Most of them participating at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), which is hosting the first ever meeting, also describe the speed and scale of losses in nature and habitat in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, which stretches 3,500km and spans eight countries, as catastrophic. “It is almost too late,” Deputy Director General Izabella Koziell told delegates.

“Four of the world’s 36 global biodiversity hotspots are in this region. 12 of the global 200 ecoregions, 575 Protected Areas, 335 important bird areas, those figures speak for themselves. Yet we are in an accelerating crisis, despite the efforts of everyone here and many in the international community. In total 70% of the original biodiversity has been lost over the last century. And yet 85% of mountain communities remain dependent on this biodiversity, for food, water, flood control and cultural identity.

“The declines in nature across this region,” says IPBES author and ICIMOD Ecosystems Specialist Sunita Chaudhary, “are so advanced and accelerating so fast they now pose a threat to the lives of not just animal and plant life, but also human societies.”241 million people live in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region: 31% of whom are food insecure and half of whom face some form of malnutrition, the statement added.

“This is a region that must be urgently prioritised for investment – to fund the fight to reverse nature loss and species extinction. We must ensure that funding to the Hindu Kush Himalaya rises at an exponential rate before these fragile and crucial ecosystems collapse, by building nature into all investment and action. But more importantly, of the outsized contribution mountains in general and the Hindu Kush Himalaya in particular play as refuges of biodiversity, and the unprecedented risks now posed to these places and species.

“Mountains cover 22% of Earth’s land surface but hold 50% of the world’s global biodiversity hotspots. Given mountains’ acute vulnerability to climate change, ICIMOD researchers have called for a dedicated Global Mountains assessment.

Source: Himalayan News Chronicle