Poverty, development, and Himalayan ecosystems
The Himalayas are rich in biodiversity but vulnerable to anthropogenic pressures. They are also host to growing number of rural poor who are dependent on forest and ecosystem services for their livelihood. Local and global efforts to integrate poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation in the Himalayas remain elusive so far. In this work, we highlight two key impediments in achieving sustainable development in the Himalayas. On the positive side, we also highlight the work of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a research organization based in India that seeks to integrate biodiversity concerns with livelihood security. For impediments, we draw on two examples from the Darjeeling district, India, in Eastern Himalayan region to illustrate how development organizations are failing to simultaneously address poverty and environmental issues. Based on the success of ATREE, we then propose a conceptual framework to integrate livelihood generating activities with sustainable and equitable development agenda. We recommend developing a Hindu-Kush Himalayan Ecosystem Services Network in the region to formulate a strategy for further action. We conclude by offering measures to address the challenge of integrating livelihood and environment issues through this network.
KeywordsDevelopment Ecosystem services Himalayas Poverty Protected areas
The authors acknowledge the discussions with the ATREE, India staff especially Dr Pashupati Chaudhary, Sam Thomas, and Anand Gazmer during the field observations and the work of ATREE in the Darjeeling region that shaped their perspective to develop this paper. Authors also acknowledge the interactions and conversations with the local villagers in the area that helped to understand the critical issues in the region. Thanks also to Dr Nakul Chettri and Dr Golam Rasul at the ICIMOD, Nepal for the productive discussions that contributed to the development of the framework to understand poverty alleviation, livelihood security, and sustainable development in the broader HKH region. Authors also thank Prof. Kamal Bawa and two anonymous reviewers for providing helpful comments on the manuscript.
- Bawa, K.S. 2013. Knowledge, institutions and human resources for conservation of biodiversity. In Conservation biology: Voices from the tropics, ed. P.H. Raven, N.S. Sodhi, and L. Gibson. Oxford: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Bawa, K.S., S. Rai, S. Kamal, and P. Chaudhary. 2012. Land use intensification, small landholders, and biodiversity conservation: Perspectives from the Eastern Himalayas. In Land use intensification: Effects on agriculture, biodiversity and ecological processes, ed. D.B. Lindenmayer, S.A. Cunningham, and A.G. Young. Canberra: CSIRO Publishing.Google Scholar
- Government of India. 1927. The Indian Forest Act, 1927. New Delhi: Central Legislative Assembly.Google Scholar
- Government of India. 2013. Census of India 2011. The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi. Retrieved March, 2014, from http://censusindia.gov.in.
- IUCN. 2001. Biodiversity impact on large dams. Background Paper 1, page 63. New York: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.Google Scholar
- Kamal, S., S. Rai, and K.S. Bawa. 2012. Enhancing conservation and livelihood security in biodiversity hotspots—A case study. Mountain biodiversity: Conservation and management. Kathmandu: ICIMOD.Google Scholar
- Kar, D., A.V. Nagaratha, T.V. Ramachandra, and S.C. Dey. 2006. Fish and conservation aspects in an aquatic ecosystems in northeastern India. Zoos 21: 2308–2315.Google Scholar
- MEA. 2005. Ecosystem and human well-being: Synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- MRC. 2014. Water, Energy and Food security in the context of climate change for the Mekong River Basin: Ho Chi Minh City Declaration: Mekong River Commission Summit.Google Scholar
- Pradhan, N.S., V.R. Khadgi, L. Schipper, N. Kaur, and T. Geoghegan. 2012. Role of policy and institutions in local adaptation to climate change—Case studies on responses to too much and too little water in the Hindu-Kush Himalayas. Kathmandu: ICIMOD.Google Scholar
- Pretty, J. 2002. Agri-Culture: Reconnecting People, Land and Nature. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Sandhu, H. 2012. Balancing nature and society: adoption of ecosystem services framework in Eastern Himalayas. In Proceedings of the international society for ecological economics 2012 conference—ecological economics and Rio +20: challenges and contributions for a green economy, Rio De Janeiro, June 16–19.Google Scholar
- Sandhu, H., and S. Wratten. 2013. Ecosystem services in farmland and cities. In Ecosystem services in agricultural and urban landscapes, ed. S. Wratten, H. Sandhu, R. Cullen, and R. Costanza. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.Google Scholar
- SANDRP. 2012. Free flowing and biodiversity rich Rivers: Most Endangered species in India. Delhi: South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People. Retrieved 1 May, 2014, from http://sandrp.in/rivers/Endangered_Riverine_Biodiversity_India_Nov2012.pdf.
- SECC. 2011. The socio economic and caste census. New Delhi: Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India.Google Scholar
- Strange, T., and A. Bayley. 2008. Sustainable development: Linking economy, Society and Environment. New York: OECD.Google Scholar
- Subba, B. 2012. Studying amphibians in Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, Sikkim. Eastern Himalayas 1: 1. (A quarterly newsletter of the ATREE Eastern Himalayas/Northeast India Programme. Retrieved 1 May, 2014, from http://atree.org/newsletters/eastern_himalayas/EHP_Newsletter1.2.pdf).
- UN. 1998. Kyoto protocol to the United Nations framework convention on climate change. Retrieved 1 May, 2014, from http://cdm.unfccc.int/about/index.html.
- UN. 2000. United Nations millennium declaration. Retrieved 1 May, 2014, from http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.pdf.
- UN. 2012. The future we want. Rio de Janeiro: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Retrieved 1 May, 2014, from http://www.un.org/en/sustainablefuture/.
- UN. 2013. The Millennium development goals report. Retrieved 1 May, 2014, from http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/reports.shtml.
- UN. 2014. United Nations Statistics Division. Retrieved 1 May, 2014, from https://unstats.un.org/unsd/default.htm.
- UNEP. 2011. Towards a green economy: Pathways to sustainable development and poverty eradication. Nairobi: UNEP. Retrieved 1 May, 2014, from www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/ger/ger_final_dec_2011/Green%20EconomyReport_Final_Dec2011.pdf.
- UNFCC. 2006. Conference of the parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto protocol. New York: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.Google Scholar
- Wikramanayake, E.D. 2002. Terrestrial ecoregions of the Indo Pacific: A conservation assessment. Washington DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- World Bank. 2009. Global economic prospects 2009: Commodities at the crossroads. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
- World Bank. 2012. World development report. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
- Wratten, S., H. Sandhu, R., Cullen, and R. Costanza eds. 2013. Ecosystem services in agricultural and urban landscapes. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.Google Scholar
- WWF 2006. Review of biodiversity in Northeast India. Background Paper 13, page 46. Delhi: WWF.Google Scholar