In the fertile lowlands of the Terai Arc landscape in Nepal, communities in partnership with wildlife authorities have managed to eliminate poaching -- a commendable achievement in light of the increasing threats to wildlife due to poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
This landscape, home to rhinos and tigers is one of the most biologically important ecoregions in the world. It is also inhabited by eight million people comprising of indigenous “Tharu” and migrants from other parts of Nepal and India. Due to limited income opportunities, local communities are dependent on forests for their livelihoods. In order to sustain this landscape, it was imperative to find a balance between land for wildlife habitat and land to maintain livelihoods. This dilemma is common across Asia and Africa and where countries have been unable to find a solution, competing land uses and lack of integrated landscape planning have resulted in habitat degradation, loss of livelihoods and loss of biodiversity.
By 2008, the Government of Nepal had given the community, management rights to one third of the country’s forests and shared 30-50 percent of revenues from all protected areas. The transfer of rights to communities and equitable benefit sharing was a catalyst for eliminating poaching in Nepal. This case study, presented by Mr. Shubash Lohani, WWF’s Director of Sustainable Landscapes was one of many other case studies from India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia presented by technical experts, panelists and government representatives at the GWP Kenya Conference 2016.
Her Excellency, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta opened the Conference with a positive note, “My hope, is that through this conference many more organizations will adopt such a model where local populations find avenues to contribute their insights, views and voices to the conservation conversation, and many more community led conservation initiatives emerge”.