CEC member Biba Jasmine reports on a side event at COP 11 about 'Conserving the High Altitude Wetlands of the Hindu Kush Himalayas'.
Countless animal and plant species depend on wetlands. They not only serve as breeding grounds for migrating birds and resident amphibians, permanent homes for fish species, social interaction amongst mammals who congregate there for water, but also buffer water flows in vulnerable high mountain catchments across the greater Himalayan region; was the running theme of the side event at CBD COP 11 in Hyderabad, India, October 2012. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-India) organized the event, which showcased the importance of conserving these productive, biodiversity-rich ecosystems at both the regional and global level.
The session was set off by Dr. David Molden, Director General, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). Dr. Molden stressed on the fact that, wetlands should not only be are seen as the cornerstone for the migratory species; but also as the fundamental foundation for sustaining biodiversity and for the livelihoods of people living higher up in mountains as well as downstream.
The talk was followed by Prof. Wu Ning, ICIMOD, who explained in greater detail the challenges and issues associated with the High-Altitude Wetlands. "Conservation of such sensitive regions not only need defined database development but requires stakeholder engagement to define and lead the development; and also requires government and responsible agencies to engage with one another from a number of sectors," he said. The event also highlighted how a collaborative effort of supporting the project with capacity building approach can go a long way in conserving such fragile yet distinctive biodiversity areas.
The purpose of this event at the COP was to highlight the dire need for the collaborative efforts required in conserving these repositories for rich, high-altitude aquatic biodiversity and natural reservoirs of freshwater; crucial not only for local communities, but also for those living in river basin. The talk ended on a positive note that the essential way of shielding and safeguarding such productive ecosystems should be through the following actions:
- enhancing stakeholder knowledge and skills;
- providing technical protocols and approaches;
- developing networks amongst the key responsible agencies; and
- initiating key strategy and policy development processes.
IUCN CEC member Ms Biba Jasmine (Jasmine) has completed the Post-Graduate Programme in Biodiversity and Conservation from the Guru Gobind singh Indraprastha University, Delhi. A volunteer at International Torchbearers Program at TERI- The Energy and Resources Institute, Delhi, she is also working with Delhi Pollution Control Committee, Department of Environment, Govt. of NCT of Delhi. She was a participant at COP 11 in Hyderabad, India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org