Women for Conservation is partnering with Birds Nepal in our first project in a key biodiversity area outside of Colombia. Birds Nepal, established in 2020, envisions community conservation models that are fully participatory and sustainable, both ecologically and economically. One of the new organization’s major objectives is to launch conservation programs driven by women, a governmentally-recognized marginalized group in Nepal. We are currently seeking funds for a three-pronged conservation initiative that includes women’s capacity-building training in sustainable livelihoods with family planning education, environmental awareness programs at local schools, and a low-impact ecotourism homestay program. The plan is to work with people who rely heavily on forest and river resources and whose futures depend upon effective conservation action, including the Bote and Tharu indigenous communities.
Nestled in the Himalayas between India and China, Nepal occupies less than 0.1% of the world’s landmass, yet its unique topography and diverse climates have created some of the world’s most complex ecosystems and iconic wildlife, like the Bengal Tiger, Greater One-horned Rhino, and Snow Leopard, along with 886 bird species. The landscape consists mainly of hills and high mountains, like Everest, with five distinct ecoregions from tropical to snow-laden. Birds Nepal is working in the subtropical lowlands of south-central Nepal, in the buffer zone of the Chitwan National Park in the Gandaki Province. Marginalized peoples and wildlife of this region, and throughout the country, are threatened by an expanding population of more than 29,000,000 combined with increased development, including road building, the construction of an international airport, and private investment companies vying for natural resources. Creating community-led conservation initiatives is critical at this time of great environmental change in Nepal.
Birds Nepal and Women for Conservation aim to start by bringing education in nature conservation, family planning, and sustainable livelihoods to people in rural areas suffering from high illiteracy and poverty rates. The goal is to help people understand the connection between population increase and unsustainable burdens on local natural resources, and help them to acquire alternative, sustainable livelihoods and family planning, which will protect their natural heritage. Twenty women are already engaged with Birds Nepal through capacity-building workshops, where they learn valuable craft skills that enhance their economic status. By helping people become less dependent economically on natural resources, the forest will remain for generations to come, and the Bote and Tharu can continue traditional ways of life while protecting land, water, and wildlife.
Alongside engaging women in sustainable living, we seek to bring, to local schools, lessons highlighting the interconnected concepts of biodiversity conservation, family planning, and sustainable resource use. An environmental awareness program will expose students to the majesty of nature through learning the basics of birding and identifying threatened species living in their area. They will also learn about the importance of ecological restoration through tree planting projects, and lectures will be offered on youth conservation action and unsustainable population growth. Promising students with a strong interest in nature conservation will have access to further education in species and habitat research, and will benefit from hands-on learning opportunities using camera traps, binoculars, and other essential equipment during their time in the program.
Lastly, Birds Nepal and Women for Conservation seek to promote a homestay concept to help the Bote and Tharu peoples to participate in the lucrative ecotourism industry in Nepal. Many tourists in the country are interested in the cultural aspects of travel, and would welcome the opportunity to stay in a typical Nepalese household to experience local food and customs while enjoying nature. A homestay program is low-impact on the environment, inexpensive, and relatively easy to set up, requiring training hosts in hospitality, knowledge of wildlife, and sanitation. Moreover, other conservation organizations have had success in Nepal with developing homestay programs that foster improved livelihoods and nature conservation. Along with host training, in developing the homestay program, Birds Nepal will conduct a cultural survey of the area, declare rubbish- and plastic-free zones, and determine households wanting to participate; promotion and evaluation will be ongoing.
Women for Conservation is thrilled to partner with Birds Nepal on these three initiatives. Your support will allow us to help marginalized women and children create self-sufficient, sustainable livelihoods that ensure the indigenous cultures and biodiversity of Nepal thrive in the face of great national change. Join us in creating an inclusive conservation movement in Nepal by giving today!
Species photos open access license.