Bhutan, India And Nepal Formalize Agreement For A New Transboundary Landscape Initiative


The three regional member countries of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) – Bhutan, India and Nepal – have agreed on an initiative for a new transboundary landscape. Under this initiative, an area of about 16,000 km2 covering parts of eastern Nepal, Sikkim and northern parts of West Bengal in India, and western Bhutan will become part of the Kangchenjunga Landscape, one of the seven transboundary areas identified by ICIMOD in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.

The decision was formalized at the initiative’s second experts’ consultation held on today in Thimphu, Bhutan. Based on the concept and timeframe decided at the first experts’ consultation held in August 2012 in Gangtok, Sikkim, Three countries prepared feasibility assessment reports, which were shared at the meeting. “The participatory and consultative process followed during the preparation of Feasibility Assessment reports by the member countries are encouraging steps towards transboundary cooperation,” said Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations at ICIMOD. He expressed satisfaction over the progress made at the consultation and noted that all three countries have given their full commitment for the preparatory phase of the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative.

The consultation was organized by the Department of Forest and Park Services (DoFPS), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan and ICIMOD with support from German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)/Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). More than 40 representatives of government and non-governmental organizations participated in the consultation.

Various representatives emphasized the importance of the initiative during the event. “The challenges of biodiversity conservation and management in the landscape can only be addressed if all three countries cooperate at various levels from local to bilateral to regional scales. The Royal Government of Bhutan is committed to this initiative,” said Dasho Sherab Gyaltshen. Krishna Acharya, Joint Secretary at the Nepalese Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, pointed out that transboundary cooperation is imperative in the face of the growing human-wildlife conflict as well as increasing evidence that species, such as snow leopards, are expanding their habitat range across boundaries. BMS Rathore, Joint Secretary from the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Government of India, emphasized the need to adopt participatory approaches and engaging communities in the management of natural resources. PP Dhyani, Director, GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, India, noted that the work around Mount Kangchenjunga “already provides substantial scientific information, and the second regional consultation is a good start for long-term cooperation among the countries”. Likewise, Chencho Norbu, Director General, Department of Forest and Park Services, Bhutan, reiterated the need for greater focus on practical solutions for both conservation and development issues at national and regional levels.