Hariyo Ban – Fighting Climate Change in Nepal

Under the name of ‘Hariyo Ban’ – meaning ‘Green Forests’ in Nepali – a USAID-funded organization in Nepal aims to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by no less than one million tons, while improving management strategies for preserving 50,000 hectares of forest. It will also implement a program of paying local communities to assist in protecting animals that are considered to be endangered in this beautiful mountainous country.

The USAID grant will enable Hariyo Ban, steered by Judy Oglethorpe of the WWF, to address the problems faced by Nepal which can largely be attributed to climate change. This includes increasingly incidents of flooding, forest fires and landslides. Moreover, even the most subtle increase in average temperatures is causing ice and glaciers to retreat, thereby increasing the risk of glacier lakes breaking through their icy banks and flooding downstream communities and wildlife. It has been estimated that more than 1.9 million people may be affected in the short term, with a further 10 million people facing possible natural disasters if the situation is not addressed as a matter of urgency.

Vice-chairman of the Nepali government’s National Planning Commission, Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, has welcomed the efforts of Hariyo Ban, noting that as a landlocked Himalayan country, Nepal is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world in terms of climate change. However, experts in the field of climate adaptation and environmental management believe there is still time to act. As Judy Oglethorpe points out, Nepal’s forests are not only a resource that supports the livelihoods of millions of Nepali people, and a safe haven for endangered species, they are a vital component for combatting the impact of climate change. Therefore, one of the goals of Hariyo Ban will be to reduce deforestation and preserve the Chitwan-Annapurna landscape, as well as the Terai southern plains. Often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of the country, the Terai is home to around 6.7 million people, as well as providing habitat for rhinos, elephants and tigers – all of which are considered to be threatened or endangered.

In addition to receiving financial support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Hariyo Ban will receive support and cooperation from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF); the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE); the Federation of Community Forest Users Nepal (FECOFUN); and the National Trusts for Nature Conservation in Nepal (NTNC).