Combining ecological and infrastructural restoration in Panchase Mountainous Region, Nepal

Anu Adhikari
Published: May 2019
Last edited: July 2019
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Summary

Panchase region is largely dependent on subsistence agriculture, and as such is particularly vulnerable to climate-related challenges. The ecological and infrastructural restoration aimed to address both livelihood and ecosystem-based issues, using both scientific and traditional knowledge to target restoration activities effectively and appropriately: the use of organic farming techniques increased crop productivity and improved resilience to pest and disease; restoring ponds brought both ecological and social benefits by improving water quality and provision; and broom grass planting helped stabilise land, improve yields of farms close to roads by stabilising landslides, reducing soil erosion and maintain access to roads, as well as providing an additional livelihood source in itself. This solution is published as part of the project Ecosystem-based Adaptation; strengthening the evidence and informing policy, coordinated by IIED, IUCN and UN Environment WCMC. 

Classifications

Region
South Asia
Scale of implementation
Subnational
Ecosystem
Agro-ecosystem
Cropland
Freshwater ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
Rangeland / Pasture
Theme
Adaptation
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Infrastructure maintenance
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Wastewater treatment
Challenges
Drought
Floods
Increasing temperatures
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Sustainable development goals
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 4: Reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030

Location

Nepal | Kaski, Parbat, Syangja

Challenges

Mountain ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. In Panchase from 1981-2011 the total number of rainfall days decreased from 135 to 120, and the maximum average temperature increased by 0.8°C. Drying water sources, changes in vegetation and cover, rising snowlines have been experienced, leading to increased frequency and severity of drought, flooding and landslides. As water provision becomes less reliable and soil quality depletes, livelihoods are impacted negatively; key crops like rice and maize are harder to grow, the quality of fruit and vegetables is lower, and there are more frequent and new pest attacks. Migration from Panchase has increased, particularly young men, and so more and more land is left barren and unused. Those remaining need options for both livelihood diversification and enhancement of existing livelihoods. 

Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are all people living around the Panchase region, especially women, poor and vulnerable households who are also members of home stay and community forest within Panchase

How do the building blocks interact?

All three building blocks fit into the EbA remit of designing and implementing activities that comply with the four main principles of additionality, cost-effectiveness, resilience-building of agricultural ecosystems and human well-being, and sustainability. In the Panchase region, building blocks focusing on upstream pond conservation like BBI would have impacts on water availability downstream which, combined with interventions on soil health and organic farming in BBII, would increase productivity and help to protect communities against impacts of climate change. In turn, green infrastructure such as roadside broom grass planting detailed in BBIII would fortify protection against flooding and landslides achieved as part of BBI, and maintain road access and thus access to markets for agricultural products.

Impacts

The adaptive capacity of communities in the ecologically sensitive mountain region of Panchase has been improved by restoring and conserving more than 60 community ponds and 45 water sources. This helps the community against flooding, drought, landslide and unreliable water provision. Water is now available during shorter dry periods. More than 1000 households have improved their livestock sheds, allowing them to collect urine and farmyard manure, both of which help mitigate against impacts of drought as part of an integrated soil management scheme. This increased farm productivity and income, meaning overall vulnerability has been reduced. Broom grass has been used as green infrastructure to restore hillsides and reduce risk of landslides, and helped protect roads, maintaining market access. Pond restoration has improved water provision, maximizing water availability throughout the year, and minimizing the time that must be spent collecting water for farming and livestock. By improving understanding of the applicability of EbA for climate-change planning, project success has helped to make the case for policy change which integrates EbA into Nepal’s national and local forest management. 

Story

Anu Adhikari

Sushila Devi Gururng, resident of Chitre in Panchase, reported that “During my childhood, the San Daha area was surrounded by rangeland and forest with plenty of water. The water was clean and used for mainly livestock drinking while they are left for grazing in the area. The water was also used by many wild animals. Due to climate change and human activities, the water level of the pond is decreasing, the quality of water is also deteriorating and the size of the pond is shrinking day by day. We now realize the importance of such ponds in water restoration and disaster control, so we have renovated the pond. This pond has also tourism value, where we can see the reflection of mountains in the water, and from there we can see a beautiful scene of mountains and Parbat city. The renovated pond (locally called San Daha pond) lies on the top of Chitre and it is also source of water for downstream people. Due to the renovation the size of the pond has increased and the capacity and amount of water also increased, which contributed to groundwater recharge and sprouting of natural water springs in the downstream areas. Furthermore, the residents of the area have seen an increase in the number of migratory and other bird species and other wild animals in the area since the renovation of the pond. The pond also serves as a picnic spot for local and other people and pilgrims, a water source for wildlife, water harvesting tank during rainy season and a catchment for eroded soil and silt during monsoon.”

Contributed by

Xiaoting Hou Jones IIED

Other contributors

Anu Adhikari
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)