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Two big wins in nature restoration from the Hindu Kush Himalaya 

Pakistan’s Living Indus Initiative and the Terai Arc Landscape spread across parts of Nepal and India win prestigious ‘world restoration flagship’ status
Published: 20 Feb, 2024
⏲ 3 minutes Read

Two projects in the Hindu Kush Himalayas have been named UN World Restoration Flagships in recognition of their importance as examples of large-scale and long-term ecosystem restoration. 

The win for the region was announced ahead of the 6th session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), which will take place from 26 February to 1 March by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) 

The Pakistan Government’s Living Indus project and Worldwide Fund for Nature and Government of Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape initiative are among just seven nature projects worldwide to be chosen as beacons of nature restoration by the Task Forces for Science and Best Practices of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. 

The Living Indus Initiative was approved by Pakistan’s parliament in the wake of the devastating 2022 floods and officially launched at the UN Climate Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh (COP27). It is led by the Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan, with support from FAO and other UN agencies. The initiative aims to restore 25 million hectares of the Indus River Basin by 2030, roughly 30 per cent of Pakistan’s surface area. Most importantly, this initiative designates the Indus as a living entity with rights – a measure taken to protect rivers systems elsewhere in the world.  

The Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) stretches across 5.10 million hectares in India and Nepal and is a critical transboundary conservation landscape for the region’s megafauna – tigers, rhinos, and elephants. The Initiative focuses on restoring critical habitats and corridors by working with government and civil society groups – citizen scientists, forest guards, social mobilizers, and community based anti-poaching units. It is led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with support from the Government of Nepal. The tiger population in the landscape shared by India and Nepal has increased to 1,174 – more than double the number when the programme was launched in 2001. The restoration of 66,800 hectares of Nepal’s forests over two decades has also improved the livelihoods of about 500,000 households in Nepal – and the aim is to restore 350,000 hectares by 2030.  

Bandana Shakya, Coordinator for the Action Area on Restoring and Regenerating Landscapes at ICIMOD: “While such impactful efforts are underway, we need scaling up and investment to trigger restoration on a transformative scale. We need more incentives, funding, and collaborative efforts across all the HKH countries.” 

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) aims to prevent, halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. 

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