Rara Lake Ramsar Site Management Plan

Rara Lake Ramsar Site

Management Plan

2021-2025

 

Rara Lake Ramsar Site Management Plan 2021-2025

 

Rara National Park, Mugu

Karnali Province, Nepal


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Rara Lake Ramsar Site Management Plan 2021-2025

Contents

List of Figures. iii

List of Tables. iii

Acronyms. iv

Acknowledgements. vii

Overview of the RamSar SITE Management Plan. 1

1    State of Rara Lake Ramsar Site. 2

1.1     Site Location. 2

1.2     Physical Features and Climate. 4

1.3     Ecological Features. 5

1.4     Communities and Livelihoods. 9

1.5     Ecosystem Services. 10

2    Policy and Governance. 14

2.1     Current Policy and Legislative Framework. 14

2.2     Institutional Arrangements. 20

3    Threats and Opportunities for Rara Lake Management. 21

3.1     Threats and Challenges to Site Management. 21

3.2     Opportunities for Rara Lake Management. 23

4    The Management Framework. 24

4.1     Guiding Principles. 25

4.2     Evaluation of features and definition of management outcomes. 26

4.3     Management Logframe. 35

5    Operational plan. 40

5.1     Work plan and budget. 41

5.2     Activity descriptions. 44

5.3     Implementation Mechanism.. 71

5.4 Monitoring and Evaluation. 74

5.5 Sustainable Financing. 75

References. 76

Annex 1: Assessment of Ecological Charcter. 80

Annex 2: SWOT Analysis. 82

Annex 3: Threat Assessment. 84

Annex 4: Water quality parameters measured during the field visit. 87

List of Figures

Figure 1 Location Map of Rara Lake Ramsar Site. 3

Figure 2 Sampling points for the water quality test of Rara Lake. 4

Figure 3 Religious sites and other infrastructure near the Rara Lake (RNP, 2019). 12

Figure 4 Fnternational visitor flow in Rara National Park 2009 - 2018. 13

                                                                                                                                                                  

List of Tables

Table 1 Wetland-related legislation in Nepal 15

Table 2 Rara Lake Key Features. 27

Table 3 Roles and responsibilities for management plan implementation. 73

 

Acronyms

BCN

Bird Conservation Nepal

BZMC

Buffer Zone Management Committee

BZUCs

Buffer Zone User Committees

BZUGs

Buffer Zone User Groups

CBD

Convention on Biological Diversity

CBNA

Capacity Building Needs Assessment

CEPA

Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness

CODEFUND

Conservation Development Foundation

COP

Conference of the Parties

DAI

Development Alternatives Incorporated

DHM

Department of Hydrology and Meteorology

DO

Dissolved Oxygen

DoF

Department of Forests

DNPWC

Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation

EC

Electrical Conductivity

EECG

Environment Education and Conservation Group

FAO

Food and Agricultural Organization

FGD

Focus Group Discussion

FNCCI

Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries

FNU

Formazin Nephelometric Unit

GIS

Geographical Information System

HRC

Health Report Card

HWC

Human-Wildlife Conflict

ICT

Information and Communication Technology

IGA

Income Generating Activities

IUCN

International Union for Conservation of Nature

KII

Key Informants Interview

MAPs

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

MDGs

Millennium Development Goals

MoFE

Ministry of Forests and Environment

MoITFE

Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment

NLCDC

National Lake Conservation Development Committee

NP

National Park

NPC

National Planning Commission

NPWC Act

National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act

NTB

Nepal Tourism Board

NTFPs

Non-timber Forest Products

NWCC

National Wetland Coordination Committee

NWP

National Water Plan

ORP

Oxidation Redox Potential

PA

Protected Area

PAANI

Program for Aquatic Natural Resource Improvement

PAME

Protected Area Management Effectiveness

pH

Potential Hydrogen

PSU

Practical Salinity Unit

RAWES

Rapid Assessment of Wetland Ecosystem Services

RIS

Ramsar Information Sheet

RLRS

Rara Lake Ramsar Site

RNP

Rara National Park

RRMMC

Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-stakeholder Management Committee

R-METT

Ramsar Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool

SDGs

Sustainable Development Goals

SMART

Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool

TOR

Terms of Reference

TDS

Total Dissolved Solids

UNESCO

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

USAID

United State Agency for International Development

VA

Vulnerability Assessment

WECS

Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS)

WWF

World Wildlife Fund

 

 

Acknowledgements

                                         

 

Overview of the RamSar SITEManagement Plan

Rara Lake is the largest lake in Nepal, supportingrare and vulnerable fauna and flora, including endemic species and supporting migratory and residential birds.The Lake also supports the surrounding community, providing water for downstream communities and supporting local livelihoods. These factors led to the listing of the site as a Ramsar site, also known as a Wetland of International Importance, in 2007. Despite this, the ecosystem services provided by Rara Lake are currently under threat from a range of factors, including increased visitor numbers and subsequent infrastructure development, climate change and unsustainable use of natural resources.

To protect Rara Lake and its resources, the site management must address these threats. The first step in developing a management plan was to engage local stakeholders in a participatory consultation to learn about the site and how the community uses it. Information was collected using the following tools:

  • Ramsar site Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (R-METT)
  • Rapid Assessment of Wetlands Ecosystem Services (RAWES)
  • Rapid Capacity Building Needs Assessment (CBNA)
  • Other checklists for key informants interview (KII), Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and site observations

Results from the assessments formed the basis of the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Management Plan. The planprovides a framework for the long-term management of the lake’s natural resources.TheManagementPlan vision, defined by stakeholdersis:“The ecological integrity of the Rara Lake Ramsar Site is conserved and/or restored and benefits the livelihoods of local people through the wise-use of wetland resources. The management decision-making processes are taken through an inclusive process involving concerned stakeholders.” Work towardthis vision will beguided byfourinterlinked Outcomes:

Outcome 1: Natural resource use is sustainable and biodiversity is conserved through consistent monitoring and research

Outcome 2: Livelihood/income sources are secured and diversified for local communities, while protecting cultural heritage

Outcome 3: Ramsar site governance, management and funding improved

Outcome 4: Awareness and understanding of the importance of the Ramsar site at international, national and local levels enhanced

The management plan proposes the development of a Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-stakeholder Management Committee. The committee will consist of inclusive representatives from all stakeholder groups, including community members, local government body, park, army and the private sector to join together in implementing the management plan in a way that promotes the sustainable use and conservation of the Ramsar site and its resources.

1       State of Rara Lake Ramsar Site

1.1         Site Location

Rara Lake Ramsar Siteis a rare example of a natural wetland in the high Himalayan biogeographic region, and is the largest lake in Nepal, with a total area of 10.6 km2,a maximum length of 5.1 km and width of 3.2 km. It is an average of 100 m deep, with a maximum depth at 167 m (RNP, 2019)).

Rara Lake is fed by more than 30 small feeder streams with only one outlet at the western end that eventually joins Karnali River, one of the four major rivers in the country (Gurung et al. 2018) via Khatyad river. The lake is located in western Nepal, within Rara National Park (RNP), in Karnali Province (Figure 1). RNPwas designated as a national park in 1976 with a total area of 106 km2.Rara Lake is located at 23⁰32′25″N latitude and 82⁰04′54″E longitude, at an elevation of 2,990 m (Basnet, 2011).

Himalayan lakes at and above elevations of 3,000 m are considered important water bodies, with their remote location maintaining pristine aquatic biodiversity and water quality. Rara Lake is classified as a remote, high altitude lake; however, recently it has become a tourism and research hotspot, due to an increase in accessibility.

1.1.1       Buffer Zone

The Rara National Park Buffer Zone (Figure 1)was declared on 25 September 2006, covering 198 km2surrounding the park (RNP,2019). It encompasses the major part of Mugu (Chhayanath Rara Municipality, Khatyad and Soru Rural Municipality) and part of Jumla district (Kanakasundari Rural Municipality). There are13,876 people living within the buffer zone,with 2,548 households, composed of a number of ethnic groups, with a majority of Chhetri , Thakuri and Dalits (RNP, 2019).

The buffer zone is organised into 156 Buffer Zone User Groups (BZUGs), 10 Buffer Zone User Committees (BZUCs), 1 Buffer Zone Management Committee (BZMC), and 19 Buffer Community Forest Groups(RNP, 2018). The buffer zone receives up to 50% of the revenue generated annually by the Park for conservation and socio-economic development, of which, BZMC allocates 30% of its budget for conservation programmes, 30% for community development programmes, 20% for income generation and skill development, 10% for conservation education and 10% for administrative expenses(RNP, 2019).

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Figure 1Location Map of Rara Lake Ramsar Site

1.2         Physical Features and Climate

1.2.1       Landscape and Geology

Rara Lake is located in the western end of a wide rhomboid-shaped valley that opens to the east. The surrounding mountains range from 3,200 m a.s.l. in the south to 3,700-3,900 m a.s.l. in the north and southwest (Yagi et al., 2009).

1.2.2       Water Analysis

Rara Lake is a warmmonomictic and oligotrophic lake (Ferro, 1978/79), surrounded by hills and mountains. A recent study by Gurung et al. (2018) demonstrated that the lake is characterized by an alkaline pH, low conductivity and limited phosphate.

During a field survey conducted by the project team, most water parameters tested (temperature, pH, Electrical Conductivity (EC), Oxidation Redox Potential (ORP), Total Dissolved Solids (TDS),

 Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Salinity (PSU) and Turbidity (FNU)), were found to be within the normal range according to Nepal Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Ecosystem (Department of Irrigation, 2008). The pH values were within the pH tolerance range of 6.5–8.5. In some sampling sites, results were slightly higher (pH 7.5-8) mirroring previous research (Gurung et al., 2018).

The parameter analysis (Annex 5) shows that the water quality is suitable for the protection of aquatic biodiversity, and will be used as a basis for comparison in future assessments.

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 Figure 2 Sampling points for the water quality test of Rara Lake
 1.2.3       Climate

Rara National Park has an alpine climate with the wet monsoon in summer and dry weather conditions in winter (Aryal et al., 2019). The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) collected temperature and rainfall data from the Rara Station for 37 years (1980 – 2016).  The data shows that the temperature in the region reaches its maximum in July and August (20°C – 21°C) and falls to a minimum fromDecember to February (-2°C – -4°C) (Gurung et al., 2018).

The seasonal rainfall pattern is dominated by the southern monsoon that occurs between June and September (Lamsal et al., 2017). The highest and lowest monthly rainfall levels are observed in August (183.5 mm) and November (8.46 mm), respectively. The average annual rainfall for the Rara Basin is estimated at 777 mm, which is similar to that of thedownstream Rara-Khatyad Basin at 755 mm (USAID Paani Program, 2019).

The seasonal average rainfalls are as follows:

  • Winter (Dec-Feb): 98 mm
  • Pre-monsoon (Mar-May): 144 mm
  • Monsoon (Jun-Sep): 526 mm
  • Post-monsoon (Oct-Nov): 9 mm

From 1990-2016, the average maximum rate of temperature increase for the Rara-khatyad watershed was +0.04°C per year (USAID Paani Program, 2019).Climate change impacts have led to intensified rainfall during the monsoon period, and drier winter months (MoFE, 2019).This has affected water resources, leading to scarcity during the winter to summer period, and the drying up of culturally important lakes, ponds, and other water resources. Changes in climate have increased the frequency of floods and droughts in the Karnali region, having a major impact on local communities (USAID Paani Program, 2019).

1.3         Ecological Features

Effective management requires an understanding of the habitats and species at the site, how these interact to form ecosystems, natural processes that sustain them and threats to these processes. The site description is based on an inventory of existing and new data, including the Ramsar criteria for which the site was originally designated.

1.3.1       Ramsar Site designation criteria

Rara Lake was designated as a Ramsar site, or wetlands if international importance, because it meets the following criteria (DNPWC/WWF (2006) :

  • Criterion 1: Largest lake at high altitude - The Rara Lake system is a unique and rare example of natural wetland type in the high Himalayan biogeographic region. It is the largest lake in Nepal, lying in the central Himalaya at an altitude of 2,990 m. It provides water to the Karnali River, one of the four major rivers in Nepal.
  • Criterion 2:Supports rare and vulnerable fauna and flora species - The area has developed unique floral and faunal assemblages with a number of rare and vulnerable species, such as Panch Awle (Dactyloriza hatagirea), Okhar (Juglans regia), Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), Musk Deer (Moschus chrysogaster) and Asala Machha (Schizothorax spp).
  • Criterion 3:Provides natural habitats for endemic species of plants and one frog species - The wet alpine pasture, moraines and damp river/stream banks along the lake area including Karnali River catchment provides habitat for various endemic species. The only endemic plant confirmed from this area is Nirbishi (Delphinium himalayai), however, Kyasar (Meconopsis regia), Primula poluninii and Cirsium flavisquamatum are potential endemic species to be found in the catchment. One endemic amphibian, Rara paha (Paa rarica) has been recorded inRara Lake (Dubois and Matsui, 1983).
  • Criterion 4:Supports winter migratory birds - Rara Lake is the resting site of at least 49 species of water birds including the passage migrants Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) and Northern pintail (Anas acuta); and the winter visitors Common teal (Anas crecca), Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula), and Common merganser (Mergus merganser). It is a breeding site of the Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), possibly a passage migrant. The residents of the site include the Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) and Brown dipper (Cinclus pallasii) (DNPWC/WWF, 2006)..
  • Criterion 7:Supports endemic fish species - Rara Lake provides a habitat for three of Nepal’s six endemic species of fish (Shrestha, 2017) including one species only found in Rara Lake. They are snow trout (Schizothorax macropthalus-Tilke Asla, S.nepalensis-Nepali Asla, S.raraensis-Kalo Rara Asla), known as asala machha in Nepali. Other fish species in Rara are: Naziritor chelynoides- Karange, Pseudecheneis serracula- Dhami Machha, Schistura rupicola- Gindula and Garra annandalei- Buduna (Shrestha, 2017).
  • Criterion 8:Important sources of food for endemic fishes and migratory waterfowl –The Dytiscid beetle, mayfly (Ephemeroptera) and caddisfly larvae (Trichoptera) are well represented aquatic fauna and serve as food for snow trout and migratory waterfowl; as do the abundant water shrimp (Gammarus sp.), aquatic beetles, hemipterans, snail (Limnea and Planorbis) and ram's horn (Planorbis) (DNPWC/WWF, 2006). The activity of birds in Rara Lake contribute to the fish food chain in the lake. Important aquatic vegetation includes: common reed (Phragmites australis), rush (Juncus leucanthus), water sedge (Fimbristylis complanata) and maretail (Hippuris vulgaris) in the northern and southern regions.Potamogeton distinctus, Potamogeton natans, Potamogeton pusillus and Myriophyllum spicatum are the most common submersed plant species; Watermillfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), Bog bean (Menyanthes trifoliata) in north-west margin periphery provide fish food and cover. Isolepis setacea, Rumex acetosa, Plantago erosa, Polygonum aviculare, and Equisetum diffusum were observed in semi-aquatic habitats (Shrestha, 2017).

1.3.2       Flora

Rara Lake is in the Trans Himalayan valley, covering temperate and sub-alpine flora. Mountains above 4,000 m run west to east along Rara Lake with diverse vegetation (Basnet, 2011). Approximately 245 species of plants have been recorded within Rara National Park. The Rara Lakeshore is interspersed with small areas of mixed forest, shrub and grassland; predominantly conifer forest dominated by blue pine (Pinus wallichiana) (Jüttner et al. 2018). Other tree species around the Ramsar site include rhododendron (Rhododendron arboreum), black juniper (Juniperus indica), west Himalayan spruce (Picea smithiana), oak (Quercus semecarpifolia), and Himalayan cypress (Cupressus torulosa) (Sharma et al., 2014). With an increase in altitude, the forest changes to a coniferous broadleaf forest of fir, oak, and birch. Other deciduous tree species include Indian horse-chestnut (Aesculus indica), walnut (Juglans regia), and Himalayan poplar (Populus ciliata) (Sharma, 2012).A total of 16 endemic plants are confirmed in Rara National Park. Endemic plants include Aconitum amplexicaule, Berberis hamiltoniana, Cirsium flavisquatum, Clematis phlebantha, Cotoneaster virgatus, Delphinium himalayai, Diplotaxis nepalensis, Duthiea nepalensis, Elymus nepalensis, Impatiens williamsii, Meconopsis regia , Oxytropis arenae-ripariae, Primula poluninii, Roscoea nepalensis, Saxifraga hypostoma, and Stellaria congestiflora(Shrestha and Joshi, 1996).

Some medicinal plants found in the park include: Kutki (Neopircrorhiza scrophulariflora), Satuwa (Paris polyphylla), Bikh (Aconitum spicatum), Pakhanbed (Bergia cillata), Lekh-satuwa (Trillidium govanianum), Godano (Pleurospermum dentatum), Padamchal (Rheum australe), and Chuli (Prunus cornuta). Among plant products Kakarsingi (Pistacia chinensis subsp. integerrima), and roots of Kutki (Neopircrorhiza scrophulariflora), Jatamasi (Nardostachys grandiflora) and Guchche-chyau (Morchella conica) are commercially important. Ghore mocha (Thymus linearis) and Godano (Pleurospermum dentatum) are used by local people as herbal tea.

Some of the Rare, Endangered and Threatened plant species found in Rara are Panch Awle (Dactyloriza hatagirea),Okhar (Juglans regia),Talispatra (Abies spectabilis),atamasi (Nardostachys grandiflora), Lauth Salla (Taxus wallichiana)Sugandhawal(Valeriana jatamansii) andKutki (Neopicrorhiza scrophulariiflora) which are listed in Nepal government protected list (DPR, 2012). Further, Jatamasi (Nardostachys grandiflora) and Meconopsis regia found in the park are listed in CITES Appendix II and III, respectively.

Macrophytes

The following Macrophytes are present in Rara Lake: Myriophyllum spicatum, Potamogeton distinctus, Potamogeton natans, Potamogeton pusillus, Utricularia australis, Isolepis setacea, Phragmites australis, Juncus leucanthus, Fimbristylis complanata, Hippuris vulgaris and Menyanthes trifoliata (Shah, 2019). A more comprehensive understanding of the distribution, density and biomass is essential for its management.

1.3.3       Fauna

Mammals

Approximately 51 species of mammals are found in Rara National Park. The park provides habitat for the endangered Musk Deer (Moschus chrysogaster), Himalayan Tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), Himalayan Black Bear (Ursus selenarctos thibetanus), Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla), Gray Wolf (Canis lupus), Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus) and Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) (Thapa and Maharjan, 2015). Among these Manis pentadactyla  is listed as Critically Endangered, Moschus chrysogasterand Cuon alpinusare listed as Endangered, Ursus selenarctos thibetanusis listed as Vulnerable,  Hemitragus jemlahicus is listed as Near-threatened and Canis lupusand Sus scrofa are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Birds

Rara Lake serves as an important resting and breeding ground for migratory waterfowls across the Himalayas. A total of 284 species of birds have been recorded in the Rara (BCN, 2015)A bird survey carried out from 10 December 2019 until 2 January 2020 revealed a total of 104 bird species (BCN, 2020) in Rara, out of which 2 species (Aythya farina and Gypaetus barbatus) are Vulnerable and remaining 102 species are enlisted as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. The study counted 2,415 individual birds of 104 species belonging to 15 orders and 39 families. Of the total 104 species, 16 identified as waterfowls, 13 wetland dependent and 75 forest birds. Of the 104, some 48 species are full migrant birds, which include all waterfowl (16 species) and 6 species of wetland birds as well as 26 forest birds (BCN, 2020).

Common winter visitors and passagemigrants in Rara include the Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus), Gadwall (Anas stepera), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula). The Greylag Goose (Anser anser), Lesser Black-headed Gull (Larus heuglini) and Brown-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus) are rare passage migrants observed at Rara Lake. The Pallas’s Gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus), Goosander (Mergus merganser), Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Great Cormorant, (Phalacrocorax carbo), Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) and Common Coot (Fulica atra) are common and frequent winter visitors. The Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) is a scarce winter visitor.

Fishes

Rara Lake is rich in fish diversity including endemic species.Recent studies have developedan inventory of fish in Rara Lake and its associated waterways (Shrestha, 2017), however, more detailed research is needed to understand the population dynamics and spawning grounds.

Schizothorax rarensis, Schizothorax nepalensis, Schizothoraichthys macrophthalmus, Naziritor chelynoides, Pseudecheneis serracula, Garra annandalei and Schistura rupicola are present in the lake and its inlet streams. Schizothorax labiatus,Schizothorax richardsonii, Diptychus maculatus, Psilorhynchus pseudecheneis,Naziritor chelynoides,Pseudecheneis serracula, Schistura rupicola, Garra annandalei,Barilus barana, Barilus bendelisis, Puntius ticto, Amblyceps mangois, Glyptothorax gharwali, Glyptothorax pectinopterus, Pseudecheneis serracula, Pseudechenies sulcatus, Macroganthus ara are present in theKhatyad Khola, the outlet of the lake (Shrestha, 2017).

Three endemic fishes, Schizothorax rarensis, Schizothorax nepalensis, Schizothoraichthys macrophthalmus, known as Asala Macha in Nepali, breed in the lake and feeder streams joining in it (Shrestha, 2017):

Nepal Snow Trout (Schizothorax nepalensis)

Nepal Snow Trout is known as Nepali Asla. The body structure is trout-like but more cylindrical, and it feeds on aquatic algae, mud and insects. Feeding occurs mainly in the early morning and evening. This snow trout generally becomes sexually mature in June and July and spawns in the gravel beds until September (Shrestha, 2017).

Large-eyed Snow Trout (Schizothoraichthys macrophthalmus)

Large-eyed Snow Trout have a pointed snout and are locally known as Tilke Asla due to their elongated body covered with shiny scales. The species is omnivorous and is reported to grow up to 20-25 cm in length and weigh up to 300 gm at full maturity. The spawning season varies from April to July. Spawning fish migrate to boulder-strewn tributaries and establish spawning dens in the loose gravel beds. The diet of this species includes mud, algae, fish larvae, insects, aquatic invertebrates and eggs of other fishes (Shrestha, 2017).

Rara Black snow trout (Schizothorax rarensis)

The Rara Black Snow trout is known in Nepali as Rara Asla because of its blackish colour. It is omnivorous and grows to 55-70 cm in length, with weights of up to 1-2 kg. The body is brown or black with black spots and fine patches along the lateral line. The spawning period varies from May to August. They usually migrate to streams joining the Rara Lake to select a spawning den. Food sources include mud, green algae, and aquatic insects. (Shrestha, 2017).

Amphibians

The frog species Rara Paha (Paa rarica) has been recorded as potentially endemic to the lake (Dubois and Matsui, 1983). The habitat and ecological requirements of this species are poorly known.

Macroinvertebrates

During the field study, an aquatic expert observed the following macroinvertebrate families in the lake and inlet streams: Gammaridae, Lymnaeidae, Dytiscidae, Elmidae, Scirtidae, Gyrinidae, Chironominae, Tanypodinae, Tipulidae, Limoniidae, Simuliidae, Limoniidae, Heptgeniidae, Ephemerellidae, Baetidae, Corixidae, Coenagrionidae, Aeshnidae, Megascolecidae, Luctridae, Nemouridae, Glossiphoniidae, Lepidostomatidae, Hydropsychidae, Hydropsychidae, Limnephilidae, Rhyacophilidae, Sphaeriidae and Planariidae (Shah, 2019).These families of macroinvertebrates have several genera and species. A detailed baseline study including seasonal and inter-annual variation information needs to be conducted.

1.4         Communities and Livelihoods

The Ramsar Site lies inside Rara National Park with major parts  of the park’s area in the Karnali Province’s Mugudistrict and the remainder in the Karnali Province’s Jumla District. The catchment area of Rara Lake is 26.82 km2, and overlaps with three local government units of Mugu and Jumla district (Figure 2).

Chayanath Rara Municipality has a total population of 25,346 people (13,340 male; 12,006 female), with a total of 4,983 households.The majority of people living around the Rara lake are Brahmin/Chhetri (~85%), followed by Dalit (10%), Janajati and others (5%). 98% of community members are Hindu, sfollowed by Christians and Buddhists (~2%).

Mugu and Jumla districts are both ranked among the least-developed districts of Nepal (RNP 2019). The poverty rate in the area is 47.1% and per capita and the average annual income is US$866. Poverty is exacerbated due to the remoteness of the area, a lack of fertile land, limited livelihood opportunities, and high illiteracy rate (RNP, 2019).

The dominant livelihood is agriculture and animal husbandry at 72%. The remainder is labour-focused livelihoods (13%) followed by service (7%),business (5%) and others (3%) (CRM, 2018).The majority of people are dependent on agricultural and forest resources. Aquatic biodiversity has enormous economic and aesthetic value and is largely responsible for maintaining and supporting the overall environmental health

Poverty has created a higher dependency on environmental resources resulting in wildlife poaching, timber smuggling, excessive grazing, and illegal harvesting of NTFPs within the National Park and Buffer Zone (RNP, 2019). USAID Paani Program (2019) has recommended the establishment of a community-based anti-poaching group that will monitor illegal fishing activity and poaching of animals and NTFP.Recommendations also include promoting alternative livelihood options of local communities linked to ecotourism. These activities could support the local economy, improve livelihoods and provide employment opportunities, such as local homestays for travellers, horse-trail rides to Murma Top, and bird-watching expeditions in the wetlands (USAID Paani Program, 2019).

1.5         Ecosystem Services

Rara Lake Ramsar Site provides a range of ecosystem services with benefits at the local, regional and global scale. Local benefits, such as the provision of water for household use,are experienced by individuals, households or communities living and working in the immediate vicinity of the wetland. At thenationallevel, Rara Lake has cultural value, and is a unique site for visitors. The assessment of ecosystem services and their valuation is important for the management of the Ramsar site. The ecosystem services provided by the Ramsar Site are described below:

1.5.1       Provisioning services

The resources and ecosystems of Rara Lake support key livelihoods: agriculture, grazing areas for livestock and tourism. The wetland is a source of freshwater for downstream people for drinking, irrigation, other domestic purposes, and micro hydropower schemes (five of eight are currently operating in the the Rara Khatyad watershed’s main waterway, Khatyad Khola, that originates in Rara Lake. Those operating collectively generate 160 kw of electricity (USAID Paani Program, 2019).

1.5.2       Regulating services

Rara Lake regulates downstream flooding, stores water and supports groundwater recharge. It also likely plays a role in local climate regulation in the area. These services are challenging to assess, and the nature and extent of the protection offered must be evaluated further.Wetland ecosystems are essential for climate change mitigation, as they sequester atmospheric carbon, providing global benefits.

1.5.3       Supporting services

As a high-altitude lake, Rara provides a unique spawning area for endemic fish and other freshwater organisms. The rich biodiversity in the lake also supports diverse populations of migratory birds, who feed on the inhabitants of the lake. Wetlands also play a role in sediment retention, accumulation of organic matter, and nutrient cycling, however, these processes have not been studied in-depth at Rara Lake.

1.5.4       Cultural services: spiritual, aesthetic and tourism

Rara Lake and the surrounding area have high cultural significance to Nepali people, with various temples in the area (Figure 3). The temple of Thakur Baba is located in the southeast part of Rara Lake. The local community believes that Thakur god threw an arrow to discharge the water of the lake to reduce the potential damage caused by the lake overflowing, leading to the outlet stream. The Lamachaur templenear the lake is visited by locals and people from other districts on the occasion of Shrawan Purnima (Janai Purnima) during August, Baishakh Purnima during May and during other festivals.

There are fivetemples in the Ramsar Site (Chhapru Mahadeva, Rara Mahadeva, Thakurnath Mahadeva, Laguda and Dopheshwar Mahadeva) with different incarnations of Lord Shiva. Of these temples, the Chapru Mahadeva temple is located approximately 500 m south of the park office. It is the temple of the Chapru village (one of the two villages relocated from Rara). The Nepal Army also performs puja (worship) at this temple during the main Hindu festivals. The deterioration of the area’s cultural sites and traditions is due to a lack of maintenance and resources.

Other important cultural and historical sites include caves in the hills surrounding the lake, a groundwater tap believed to have been used by local royalty that once inhabited the area and is said to be ancient and unique (DNPWC/WWF Nepal, 2006; RNP, 2019)); and stone sculptures with archaeological scripts, found near Murma village (DNPWC/WWF Nepal, 2006). 

image004              

Figure 3Religious sites and other infrastructure near the Rara Lake (RNP, 2019)

According to RNP (2019) the Mugali people and their culture is at the centre of cultural tourism in the park. Their rich culture and traditions are related to the Hindu and Buddhist religions.The Jumla district is thought to be the origin of the Nepali language and an ancient civilization centre of Nepal. The Khasha dialect is spoken in the area. To the east of the lake, the mountain Chhayanath Himalis considered to be auspicious and is revered by Hindus and Buddhists (RNP, 2019).

Tourism

Foreign and domestic visitors to Rara Lake have been steadily increasing in recent years, due to the site’s accessibility, transportation, hotels, homestays and facilities. Tourism generates income through the provision of recreational activities and services such as boating, horse riding and accommodation. Other recreational activities include hiking, bird watching, cycling, photography, motorbiking and climbing.

Although there are both domesticand foreignvisitors, park management has only maintained long-term records of international visitors.The number offoreign tourists depends upon the country's political stability, however, the number is increasing slowly, from 100 visitors in 2009 to over 300 visitors in  2018 (Figure 4). Park authorities have recently begun recording the number of domestic visitors to the site with the provision of park entry fee for domestic visitors in the revised Mountain National Park Regulation. In the last six months of FY 2076/77 (2019/20)there were8,223 domestic visitors. High visitation by domestic tourists hasfostered the growth of the tourism sector.

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Figure 4Fnternational visitor flow in Rara National Park 2009 - 2018

(DNPWC Annual Report 2018)

Ecotourism

The United Nation World Tourism Organisation ( UNWTO) defines sustainable tourism as “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities” (cited by Cerveny et.al, 2020)

An assessment of nature-based tourism by the USAID PAANI program (2019) and Karnali Province Tourism Master Plan (2020) in the Karnali region (including Rara) identified that there is a lack of environmental management practices for tourism infrastructure development. In addition, the tourism industry does not sufficiently contribute to income generation for both the park and local people. Further planning and management of the site would increase its visibility as a tourism destination. The Karnali Province Tourism Master Plan 2020mentioned the Rara region as one of the five strategic tourism zones (as Rara-Jumla-Sinja-Kalikot Tourism Zone) of Karnali province, highlighting the product focus as Extreme Leisure, Pilgrimage/Spirituality/Wellness, Khasha Civilization & Heritage, Organic Agriculture, Wildlife and Special Interest Tourist Activities. 

The assessment also suggested to develop cultural homestay as a destination in Murma village, and to develop Rara-Chayanath as pilgrimage and a meditation sites, providing local people with new job opportunities and attracting private sector investment in the community. It is necessary to set appropriate measures and limits of acceptable changes to minimize and mitigate the potential negative impacts of tourism such as revising the eco-friendly infrastructure plan in the natural and cultural important sites of outstanding universal value (OUV), which is recommend by Karnali Province Tourism Master Plan 2020.

Existing management plans include the Rara National Park and Buffer Zone Management Plan (2010-2014 (2066-2070)) and (2075/76-2079/80 (2019/20-2023/24)) (RNP, 2019). Proposed plans for the tourism sector are included in both management plans, however, progress with implementation could be enhanced to better grow and improve tourism in the area. Under the guidance of Ministry of Forest and Environment (MoFE) and Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), Rara NPcollaborate with local government, provincial government/Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment (MoITFE), Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), other federal government ministries to diversify tourism. RNP (2019) acknowledge that full implementation may not be possible through their regular budget, this highlights the need for collaboration and coordination between all forms of management within the area.

2       Policy and Governance

2.1         Current Policy and Legislative Framework

The Constitution is the fundamental law of Nepal.Article 30 clearly provides for the Right to a clean environment for every citizen and a victim shall have the right to obtain compensation. The Article encourages the making of necessary legal provisions for a proper balance between the environment and development, in development works of the nation. Similarly, Article 51. (g) has provisions on policies relating to protection, promotion and use of natural resources including to protect, promote, and make environmental friendly and sustainable use of natural resources available in the country maintaining ecological balance and mitigate risks from natural disasters. The management, conservation, establishment and development of wetlands is supported by the National Wetland Policy (2012), National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2014-2020), and the Nature Conservation National Strategic Framework for Sustainable Development (2015). Acts related to wetlands include the Aquatic Animal Protection Act 1960, National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1971, Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Act 1982, Forest Act  2019 and Environmental Protection Act  2019.

The legal framework for the mainstreaming of wetlands into the national planning process is guided by the Ramsar Convention (1971), the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992), the Aichi Targets (2011-2020), Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030), the Sendai Framework (2015-2030), and the Paris Agreement (2015).

Table 1Wetland-related legislation in Nepal

Acts

Policies

Strategies

Plans and Guidelines

Aquatic Animal Protection (1960)

National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1973)

Soil and Watershed Conservation Act (1982)

Forest Act  2019

Water Resources Act (1992)

Environmental Protection Act  2019

Solid Waste Management Act (2011)

Local Aquatic Animal and Biodiversity Conservation Act  2020[1]

National Environment Policy 2019

National Climate Change Policy  2019

National Forest Policy (2019)

National Wetland Policy (2012)

National Land Use Policy (2015)

National Mineral Resource Policy (2017)

Water Resource Strategy (2002)

National Energy Strategy of Nepal (2013)

National Agriculture Development Strategy (2014)

Forestry Sector Strategy (2016)

National Urban Development Strategy (2017)

National Ramsar Strategy and Action Plan (2018-2024)

National Water Plan (2005)

National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2014-2020)

Nature Conservation National Strategic Framework for Sustainable Development (2015)

Nepal Water Quality Guidelines (2005)

 

Key policies, strategies and plans are described below:

Wetland related keypolices

  • National Wetland Policy, 2069 (2012): The principal wetland policy in Nepal, the National Wetland Policy, 2012, mentions the need for conservation, restoration and effective management of wetlands. This policy emphasizes the wise use and conservation of wetland resources based on ten key principles, four working strategies and ten priority actions that support the promulgation of the Wetland Conservation Act. For effective implementation, it is necessary to revise and mainstream the policy as per the national constitution and international legislation. It is also crucial to review and harmonize the policy as per the governance system of the country.
  • National Forest Policy, 2075 (2019): The Forest Policy envisions the conservation of 40% of forest land. The policy interlinks wetlands with watershed management in the country. It highlights the key role of wetlands (and land) in improving productivity through an integrated watershed management practice with the following strategic approaches: Adopting river basin approach for watershed conservation and management; identification of wetlands along with their inventory and documentation; classification and designation of management authorities; capacity building and participatory planning for the conservation of wetlands and watershed areas, and the exploration of options for community conserved areas. The operational guidelines emphasize climate change adaptation measures adopted through forest resources, watershed management, food security and water-induced disaster management, thereby contributing to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
  • National Climate Change Policy, 2076(2019): The goal of National Climate Change Policy 2019 is to contribute to socio-economic prosperity of  the nation by building a climate resilient society.  The objectives of the policy is to enhance climate change adaptation capacity of persons,              families, groups and communities vulnerable to, and at risk of, climate change; to build

[1]About 35 municipalities and rural  municipalities have enacted Local Aquatic Animal and Biodiversity Conservation Act  2020 in Province no. 5, Karnali Province, and Sudur Paschim Province. Resilience of ecosystem that are at risk of adverse impacts of climate change. It emphasis on the formulation and implementation of action plan for the management of wetlands that are at risk of climate change.

  • National Environment Policy, 2076 (2019):The government has endorsed the National Environment policy 2019 to control pollution, manage wastes and promote greenery so as to ensure citizens’ right to live in a fair and healthy environment. The policy aims to lessen and prevent all types of environment pollutions, manage wastes emanated from all sectors including home, industry and service Waste collection system will be made effective and littering will be completely restricted in wetlands, religious sites, road, and other public places.

Wetland related key acts:

  • Soil and Watershed Conservation Act, 2039 (1982):The Soil and Watershed Conservation Act, 1982, forms a legal basis for land and watershed conservation, essential formountainous countries like Nepal. The Act gives authority to the Government of Nepal to declare any important site as a protected watershed area, while also permitting the Watershed Conservation Officer to maintain the sites within the protected watershed.
  • Aquatic Animal Protection Act, 2017 (1960):The act introduces to make provisions on the protection of aquatic animals and other matters pertaining thereto in order to maintain peace and order as well as convenience and economic interests of the general public. It clearlyprohibits the catching, killing and wounding of aquatic animals without obtaining license from Government of Nepal or the local authority. It recognizes the value of wetlands and aquatic animals and restricts the use of explosive substance or poisonous substance into a water resources with intention of catching and killing of any aquatic animals.
  • National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973: Known to be the oldest act for biodiversity conservation in Nepal, the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973, focuses on species and ecosystem conservation as well as habitat management. With a focus on the protected area systems, this act is crucial for wildlife habitat conservation, as well as sustainable protected area management.
  • Forest Act, 2019: The forest act focuses on sustainable forest management and the supply of forest products to Nepali people. This Act provides a clear jurisdiction for all national and private forests, which also covers the wetlands inside the forests. However, the Act does not directly spell out wetland conservation. The latest amendment of the Act has given special attention to the payment for environmental services following upstream and downstream mechanisms and environmental services produced by various forest ecosystems. It emphasize the landscape level conservation and encourage to prepare plan for the conservation of watershed and halts the activities that has negative impacts on watershed and increase soil erosion.
  • Environmental Protection Act, 2019: The Environment Protection Act aims to safeguard social, economic and ecological aspects while developing infrastructure and using forested and non-forested lands. It gives special focus to initial environmental examination of small projects and environmental impact assessment for larger projects. It emphasize on maintaining a proper balance between environment and development, mitigate adverse environmental impacts on environment and biodiversity and face the challenges posed by climate change. It focuses on the control of pollution and determine necessary standards for the mitigation of pollution from hotel, restaurant, vehicles, or other places and activities or effects from the disposal or emission of any hazardous substance.
  • Local Government Operation Act, 2017: This is a newly promulgated Act and it is focused on the governance at the local level under the federal set-up. It clearly spells out the jurisdiction of local government over natural local resources, which includes wetlands. However, there are some issues relating to the use of local resources that need to be discussed and resolved while making federal and state-level Acts and regulations in future.
  • Water Resources Act, 2049 (1993): The main objective of the Water Resources Act is to make legal arrangements for determining the beneficial uses of water resources, preventing environmental and other hazardous effects and keeping water resources free from pollution.
    • Section 8 (1) states that any person or corporate body who desires to conduct a survey or to utilize water resources has to apply to the prescribed authority and submit necessary reports.
    • Section 9 focuses on proper utilization of water resources for hydroelectricity.
    • Section 16 has a provision for land acquisition from the government or public for the construction of water resource projects. Government makes provisions for appropriate compensation as described under the Land Acquisition Act, 2034(1977).
    • Sections 18, 19 and 20 address water quality standards, water pollution and adverse effects on the environment. GoN may fix and maintain quality standards for water resources to establish limits for the discharge of pollutants to minimize the adverse effect on the environment.
    • Section 20 states that any construction activities, which utilize water resources, must minimize soil erosion, landslide or other adverse environmental impacts.
    • Section 22 has a provision of penalties to the offenders who violate the rules and regulations.

Wetland related key strategies, plans and guidelines:

  • National Ramsar Strategy and Action Plan, (2018-2024): The National Ramsar Strategy and Action Plan (201-2024) is the first strategy and action plan for conservation of Ramsar sites in Nepal and is congruent with both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. It considers the thirteen priority areas that are much like the priority areas of the Ramsar Convention. The goal of the National Ramsar Strategy and Action Plan (2018-2024) is to conserve, wise use, restore the Ramsar Sites and ensure benefits to the local communities. It aims tovalueand recognize the Nepal's Ramsar sites nationally and globally. The objectives of the National Ramsar Strategy and Action Plan are to effectively conserve and manage the Ramsar site network; to manage wetlands including the Ramsar site at the footprint of wisely use principle; to engage federal, state and local stakeholders and capacitate them for the wetlands and Ramsar sites conservation; to enhance the Ramsar implementation through the national and international cooperation; and to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the National Ramsar Strategy and Action Plan.
  • National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, (2014-2020): The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2014-2020) provides a framework for the management of the country's biodiversity and has listed wetlands as one of the priority areas for biodiversity conservation. This action plan promotes the wise use of resources and alignswith various national and international obligations.
  • National Water Plan, 2062 (2005): In order to implement the activities identified by the National Water Strategy, 2002, the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS) formulated the National Water Plan (NWP), which was approved by the government in September 2005. The NWP recognizes the broad objectives of the Water Resource Strategy and lays down short, medium and long-term action plans for the water resources sector, including programs and project activities, investments and institutional aspects. Further, it attempts to address environmental concerns and contribute to maximizing positive impact and minimizing or mitigating adverse impact in line with environmental sustainability concerns.
  • Ramsar Convention on Wetland of International Importance, 1975: The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, known as the Ramsar Convention, aims to protect wetland ecosystems, promote their sustainable utilization, and set aside special areas as wildlife reserves. Each country needs to designate at least one wetland for inclusion on the list of wetlands. Nepal is an international flyway for migrating waterfowl in South Asia. This agreement may have a bearing on the development potential of wetland areas at hydropower project sites. The Strategic Plan of the Ramsar Convention has emphasized the conservation of the wetlands and urges parties to conduct an environmental assessment of the development proposals that are likely to have significant impacts on wetlands. Nepal ratified the Ramsar convention on April 17, 1988. Nepal designated Koshi Tappu as its first Wetland of International Importance, or Ramsar Site. Nepal currently has 10 Ramsar sites, four in Terai, lowland, four in the Himalayas and two in the midhills (MoFE, 2018)
  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 1992: Adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio-de Janeiro in 1992, the convention aims to conserve biological diversity, to use its components in a sustainable way, and to share the benefits obtained from its genetic resources. The Convention is governed by the Conference of the Parties (COP) and advances its implementation through the decisions it takes in its periodic meetings.Nepal ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity on 23 November 1993. The MoFEis the focal point of CBD. As a CBD party, Nepal must formulate or adapt strategies and action plans for the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan(NBSAP) implements the Convention at the national level.
  • Aichi Targets (2011-2020): Aichi Targets are the outcome of the Convention on Biological Diversity. They comprises five Strategic Goals with 20 ambitious targets. All AichiTargets relate to wetlands in one way or the other. Targets 2 and 3 include the values of wetland biodiversity and integrate them into national and local development eliminating subsidies harmful to wetland biodiversity. Target 11 aims for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services enhancement. Likewise, Target 15 focuses on climate change issues, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks enhanced through conservation and restoration of 15% of the degraded ecosystem thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030): With an aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of the sustainable development agenda, several countries adopted this set of goals on 25th September 2015. Each country was provided with specific targets to be achieved by 2030 i.e. 17 goals with 169 targets. Building on experiences with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), focused on developing countries, with environmental sustainability as just one of its eight goals, the seventeenth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are more holistic, ambitious and visionary. SDGs specifically mention wetlands in relation to two of the goals (Goal 6 and Goal 13), and hence provide a policy context for the implementation of related conventions and plans. SDG 6 focuses on water and sanitation in terms of drinking water supply and sanitation, integrated water resources management, and the importance of water-related ecosystems. Target 6.6, emphasises wetland and the structure of the goal links wetlands directly with the increasingly urgent questions of water allocation, water risks and water scarcity while opening the door to the other SDGs.
  • Sendai Framework (2015-2030): This framework outlines seven targets and four priorities for action to reduce existing disaster risks. The targets include a reduction in the number of disaster mortalities and affected people by 2030. It is relevant to wetland conservation as wetlands serve as natural buffers to hazard regulation. Moreover, World Wetland Day 2017 was celebrated with the theme “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction.” Nepal’s geographical diversity and climate variability make the country vulnerable to various hazards.

1.1         Institutional Arrangements

The Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE) is the focal ministry for wetlands with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation as the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Nepal (DoF, 2017). Wetlands are also interwoven in other ministries and commissions such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives; Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation; Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies;

Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration; Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation; National Planning Commission (NPC); and Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS). Other institutions such as the Department of Forests and Soil Conservation (DoFSC),, National Lake Conservation Development Committee (NLCDC), and municipalities are investing in wetlands, including Ramsar sites.

Nepal has developed a National Wetland Coordination Committee (NWCC) under MoFE with representation fromwetland-related sectoral ministries. All of the ministries, department and divisions areunder the federal government. The federal government coordinates with provincial or state governments, and state governments then work with local government bodies such as metropolitan cities, sub-metropolitan cities, municipalities orrural municipalities.

Rara Lake Ramsar Site is located within a protected area, therefore it is governed by DNPWC,which is a part of the federal government, according to the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act (NPWC Act). The Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE) is the focal ministry for Ramsar implementation in Nepal. At Rara Lake, DNPWC coordinates with MoFEand line agencies under state government for the conservation of Ramsar sites within their respective jurisdictions.

1       Threats and Opportunities for Rara Lake Management

1.1         Threats and Challenges to Site Management

Rara Lake hosts high biodiversity and natural resources.Recent changes to the site, including increased visitor numbers and a dependence on the site by local communitiescan threaten the site if not properly managed. The project team conducted evaluation of the threats to the site using the Ramsar Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (R-METT), with community consultations and discussions with site managers.

Threats to the Ramsar site are classified as high, medium and low. High threats are listed below and pose a serious risk to the key values of the Ramsar site.Annex 4: Threat Assessmentliststhe medium and low threats identified.

1.1.1       TourismActivities and Infrastructure

While tourism has potential to provide income to the park and communities living within the buffer zone, it also poses threats to the integrity of the site if it is not carefully managed. In fiscal year 2019/20, the site had 8,223 domestic visitors (DNPWC, 2019/20), following a trend of increasing visitation numbers that are strainingcurrent park facilities. There is a need to regulate tourism to minimize negative impacts to the ecosystem.

There are currently two hotels and one homestay present inside the Ramsar Site. Increased sewage discharge from hotels, park and army infrastructure can affect the lake chemistry, impacting the flora and fauna who rely on it and affecting downstream water users.

Off-road driving by tourists around the lake is disturbing wildlife and threatening grassland habitats, leading to erosion around the lake and increased sedimentation and water. Records show thatupto 30 four-wheelers and 30 motorbikes per day entered the grassland from September – November. Increasing numbers of visitors will likely exacerbate damage from vehicles, if not properly managed.

Solid waste from tourism has also increased at the site. A survey conducted by BCN in 2020 found a total of 9 kg of trash along a one kilometre transect.Non-biodegradable waste, such as bottles and other plastic can affect the aesthetic values of the site, as well as the flora and fauna.  As horse-riding activities have become more popular around the lake, lack of waste disposal facilities has led to plastic pollution of water resources along the major trekking trails.  More than 200 horses are used for horse riding tourism activities on the site. Horse manure found along the trekking route and around the lake and is not only aesthetically displeasing but also ends up in the lake adding nutrients and pathogens. Horse manure was also observed in the large grassland area of the lake basin; this can produce significant changes in the vegetation and could possibly introduce invasive plants that could eventually colonise more pristine areas in the vicinity. Therefore, tourism management plan is needed, as also asserted in the Rara National Park Management Plan 2019.

Under the NPWC Act 2029, 50% of the annual tourism revenue generated by the Park supports conservation and socio-economic development, however, local communities are unsatisfied with the direct benefits they are getting from Ramsar site, as the hotel operators are taking a large share. This has led to strained relationships between the park and communities.

1.1.2       Resource Use

High poverty rates in the communities in the Rara Lake Buffer Zone have led to an increased reliance on the resources provided by the Ramsar site.With limited suitable grazing areas outside of the site, farmers rely on the Ramsar Site for grazing livestock,which can degrade forests and lead to erosion and increased sedimentation in the lake.

Livestock grazing in Rara National Park and the lake catchment has also affected the occurrence of the red panda, which prefers areas without grazing activity (Thapa, et al., 2020; Sharma, et al., 2015). Stakeholders raised concerns about the increased probability of disease transfer from livestock to wildlife.[1]Park values are also threatened by the illegal harvesting of non-timber forest products (NTFP) such as Guchchi mushroom (Morchella sp.).

In the past, the locals used to catch approximately 10 kg of fish per day from the confluence area of the lake and the feeding streams. Local stakeholders have reported a decline in the number of fish due to illegal fishing and changes in lake water quality, however there has not been sufficient recent research to confirm these observations (Shrestha, 2017).

1.1.3       Climate Threats

Climate change has led to temperature increases in the catchment of Rara-khatyad watershed; however, these changes vary spatially and seasonally. The average maximum rate of temperature increase for the entire Rara-khatyad watershed is +0.04°C per year (USAID Paani Program, 2019).Rainfallhas become more intense during the monsoon and consequently, the winter months are drier, leading to a scarcity of water resources during the winter to summer period.

The agriculture sector is the sector that is most affected by climate change impacts, which are exacerbated by human development activities such as the construction of dams and road infrastructure (USAID Paani Program, 2019).Crops farmed in the region include paddy rice, buckwheat, millet and lentils, which the communities rely on for livelihood and sustenance.The Karnali region is the most underdeveloped region in Nepal, and is subject to repeated famines and drought, which are amplified by climate change. Agriculture in the Karnali region is dependent on monsoon rains, which are becoming increasingly uncertain, affecting the success of farming. Community members west of the lake in Murma Village have reported severe droughts over the last ten years. Reports of drought are based on the local perceptions and observations and on the USAID report, Rara-Khatyad Watershed profile (USAID Paani Program, 2019). A detailed study has not yet been carried out, however, drought is a major issue in Nepal due to climate change impacts (MOFE, 2019). Emergence of crop disease and proliferation of pest including severe flood and extended droughts are closely related to climate change and has been increasing in both coverage and frequency (MoALMC, 2018). Villages near the site have recently reported pathogens in fruits and vegetables, a concern for the health of the community, and likely to be related to changes in climate. A detailed study on pathogens, zoonotic diseases should be carried out to detect non-native or increased pathogen concentrations.Climate change impacts disproportionately affect low caste communities and women, as they are completely dependent on agriculture and livestock.

Threats to Cultural HeritageThere is a perceived loss of cultural links and traditional knowledge amongst the communities surrounding the lake.Residentsstill celebrate cultural and religious events, however, traditional knowledge and is being lost due to lack of knowledge transfer, migration and lack of interest among youth. There are few job opportunities in the region; therefore,youth are forced to migrate to cities, affectingnot just the agricultural production but also and other social development including loss of cultural, religious and traditional values. The rich Mugali culture and the historical and cultural significance around Rara Lake is fading because of lack of promotion and interest to carry on traditions.High poverty rates and limited time availability have led tolocal communities focusing more on income generating activities thanon maintaining and renovating cultural sites.The changes in perception of people towards the culture and tradition reduces the site's cultural values. The Rara National Park Management Plan has reported a need to protect, upgrade and promote cultural values and places such as religious temples and caves located in and around Rara Lake, providing an annual budget allowance for the maintenance of temples and other religious sites.

1.2         Opportunities for Rara Lake Management

There is a need to diversify income-generating activities at the site that are mutually beneficial to both the ecosystemand the community. The development of regulated and sustainable tourism activities will contribute to the preservation of the cultural features of the site. Improving the cultural and traditional knowledge transfer to younger generations will also help to increase interest and, in turn, improve preservation.

Increasing both domestic and international tourism to Rara Lake willincrease financial contributions from visitors. Increased monetary flow willenhancethe livelihoods of local communities through sustainable ecotourism and development of locally suitable organic crops.There is potential to strengthen community capacity to fill positions outside of the agricultural sector, such as nature guides, hotel operators and hospitality management. This will diversify the livelihood options of the communities and reduce their dependency on Ramsar site resources. Local people will also be encouraged to conserve and protect Ramsar site resources when they benefit from alternative livelihoods, which will help to maintain the ecological characteristics of the site.The park needs to have frequent interaction with the local communities as the Ramasr site lies inside the park.The development and implementation of Mountain National Park Regulation with Ramsar Site will guide the Rara National Park to regulate the management activities more effectively and reduce the conflict between the park and communities.

Stakeholders have recommended developingsustainable visitor facilities to increase the attractiveness of the site to tourists. Developing signboards and an information centre will educate visitors on the cultural, ecological, and social significance of the Ramsar site. Developing site as an ethical birding site with the construction of hide house to observe birds will attract bird lovers including other tourist, and could set an exemplary wetland site for birding. Local workers should be directly involved in designing, constructing and maintaining infrastructure,providing immediate and long-term economic and social benefits.Strengthening local leadership will promotecommunity buy-in and support of the Ramsar site. Developing homestay businesses and a village museum will provide opportunities for the community to directly benefit from tourism and share their culture with visitors. These developments will attract private sector interest, leading to investments within the site and community. It is important to establish equitable benefit sharing guidelines to reduce confrontation between the park and local people. RNP in coordination with local government and provincial government should facilitate to attract the private sectors and investors.

Coordination is not only required between user groups, local businesses and communities and local authorities, but also between management planners. To enhance sustainable tourism practices, site management needs to collaborate with stakeholders to develop new tourism plans, including those discussed above. This will ensure tourism plans and actions do not contradict each other, and instead provide maximum benefits to the site and stakeholders

2       The Management Framework

The management plan team worked with stakeholders to evaluate the key features and objectives for the sustainable management of Rara Lake Ramsar Site. The results of the evaluationframed the key components of the management plan. The four main outcomes of the management plan include sustainable use of natural resources, strengthening livelihood and cultural heritage, site governance and awareness raising. These outcomes will contribute to the Rara Lake Ramsar vision:

“The ecological integrity of the Rara Lake Ramsar Site is conserved and/or restored and benefits the livelihoods of local people through the wise-use of wetland resources. The management decision-making processes are taken through an inclusive process involving concerned stakeholders.”

2.1         Guiding Principles

This Management Plan embraces a set of principles,, which should guide the sustainable, equitable and effectivemanagement of Rara Lake.

  • Ecosystem-based approach to the wise use of wetlands:
    • This approach considers the broad suite of biological, physical, and human elements in an ecosystem, and the interactions among these elements. “Wise use” is a central principle of the Ramsar Convention, which means "...the maintenance of [wetlands’] ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development." This Management Plan reflects system-wide perspectives for the wise use of the lake, buffer zone and watershed of Rara Lake, for nature conservation and natural resource management and for sustainable development and long-term livelihoods.
  • Livelihood framework:
    • A thriving rural economy is crucial for improving livelihoods of disadvantaged women and men. Sustainable agriculture and tourism should provide enhanced food security and incomes. Diversification of livelihood skills and opportunities in alternative sectors are also important to consider. Livelihood strategies must be based on the wise use of the wetland in order to be economically viable and long lasting.
  • Co-management approach:
    • Equitable and sustainable management of the natural resources of Rara Lake should be achieved through a process of co-management. Co-management is a cooperative arrangement in which user groups and the government share responsibility for management, including decision-making, implementation and enforcement.
  • Inclusiveness, Gender, and Social Equity:
    • To promote a sense of ownership of the management process, and to ensure benefits to the most vulnerable population, the management of the Rara Lake should be inclusive, with equitable representation and active participation of stakeholder groups throughout the management process. This encompasses gender inclusiveness; women must be meaningfully included in the management process to ensure that their needs, rights, and contributions are fully valued. The benefits and costs of managing Rara Lake should not be concentrated only in certain stakeholder groups, but should be distributed in a more equitable manner. Capacity building can prepare stakeholders for active participation in and leadership of management processes. Monitoring and evaluation should ensure that positive and negative impacts from management are not disproportionately borne by any group of stakeholders.
  • Conflict sensitivity:
  • To ensure that the management of Rara Lake does not exacerbate underlying social tensions or contribute to conflict, it is important to integrate conflict sensitivity into management activities through a “do no harm” approach. An inclusive approach to management that involves diverse stakeholders can contribute to conflict sensitivity, by bringing more representative perspectives to decision-making and implementation. It is critical that monitoring and evaluation of management activities includes consideration of the social impacts of those activities, including impacts on relationships and tensions within and across stakeholder groups. Similarly, the planning of all activities should carefully consider the potential for unforeseen impacts on conflict. Conflicts needing resolution should be approached using Conflict Sensitive Project Management.

2.2         Evaluation of features and definition of management outcomes

This section helps to identify the outcomes, outputs and generate activities based on the evaluation of key features and threats.The table below presents the evaluation of key features including ecological, socio-economic, governance, and knowledge and communication that are described in detail.  The table highlights the threats and the factors to be considered to maintain the key features of the site and identifies the outcomes and outputs to address the threats identified.

 

Ecological

 

Features

·         Unique  and rare high altitude lake

·         Supports rare and vulnerable flora and fauna

·         Natural habitat for endemic species of plants, one frog species, and endemic fish species

·         Supports migratory and residential  birds

·         Important food source for endemic fish and migratory waterfowl

·         Hydrological values - regulates flooding downstream and provides a source for groundwater recharge and storage

Threats

·         Habitat degradation, erosion due to overgrazing

·         Potential livestock disease transfer to and from wildlife

·         Illegal harvesting of NTFPs/ MAPs

·         Lake pollution due to waste associated with hotel operations, and tourism activities including park and army activities.

·         Decline in the number of fish

·         Increasing vehicle flow and unmanaged driving route at upper Mili

·         Climate change-induced hazards i.e. drought conditions, temperature extremes and landslides

Features to be considered

·         Limited livestock grazing area outside National Park

·         High dependency of surrounding communities on Ramsar site resources

·         Unawareness of the Ramsar site boundary by local communities and visitors.

·         Insufficiency of regular monitoring of ecological information including species and habitats

·         Limited knowledge and awareness on the significance of the Ramsar site by visitors including local communities

·         Limited awareness of resource conservation by local communities.

·         Limited capacity of park staff (i.e lack of training on lake management) to conduct research and management specific to Ramsar site

·         No specific staff assigned for the management of Rara Lake as Ramsar site

·         Lack of wetland management considering the whole catchment of Rara Lake

Outcomes

O1: Natural resource use is sustainable and biodiversity is conserved through consistent site monitoring and research

 

Socio-economic

   

Outcomes

O2. Secure and diversify livelihood/income sources for local communities, protecting the cultural heritage

Features

·         Source of freshwater to downstream communities

·         Cultural and religious values

·         Tourism and recreation

·         Historical importance

·         Means of income generation through tourism activities like horse riding service, guide, homestays and hotels

Threats

·         Gradual loss of cultural and traditional knowledge and management practices

·         Climate change-induced hazards i.e. drought conditions, temperature extremes, landslides, crop disease and  downstream flooding

·         Deteriorating cultural and religious site values

·         Unequitable benefit sharing from tourism (for eg only few hotels which are privately owned are getting maximum benefits)

·         Crop depredation by wildlife

Features to be considered                                 

·         Poor visitor's facilities including toilets, accommodation, resting points

·         Improper placement of park and tourism infrastructure i.e. hotels in operation are very close to the Lake

·         Inadequate community capacity to handle increasing numbers of visitors

·         Limited tourism activities

·         Limited livelihood options

·         Lack of site-specific tourism management plan

·         Limited knowledge of commercial farming and agro-tourism

·         Limited awareness of sustainable use of natural resources by local communities.

·         Limited knowledge transfer of historical and  cultural significance – resulting in decreasing maintenance and renovation of cultural sites

 

Governance

Features

·         The Ramsar site is governed by federal government under NPWC Act and regulation

·         DNPWC act as Ramsar authority and MOFE as a focal ministry to the Ramsar Secretariat.

·         Community participation in conservation and management through Buffer Zone system

Threats

·         Occasional confrontation between park and people regarding resource use

·         Weak community engagement with site management

·         No Ramsar site regulation

Factors to be considered

·         Limited coordination and communication among various stakeholders (local bodies, communities, park and other concerned stakeholders)

·         Lack of dedicated staff for Ramsar site management

·         Limited community engagement on site management

·         Lack of Ramsar site specific regulation

·         Various user group/committee board members include women only for formalities while decisions are still made by men

·         Lack of sustainable financial mechanism for research and management services

Outcomes

O3. Improve Ramsar site governance, management and funding

Knowledge and Communication

Features

·         Knowledge products of DNPWC and other conservation organisations

·         Efforts of conservation community i.e through BZMC  

Threats

·         Limited awareness on the status and significance of the Rara Ramsar site at local, national and international level

Features to be considered

·         Limited information available to local communities

·         Limited access of information and communication between park managers, Ramsar focal authority and Ramsar Secretariat

·         Limited capacity to disseminate information and knowledge management

Outcomes

O4: Enhance awareness and understanding of the importance of the Ramsar site at international, national and local level

           


1.1.1       Ecological

Evaluation

Rara Lake Ramsar Site is a unique example of a high altitude lake in the Himalayan biogeographic region. It is the largest lake in Nepal, hosting one species of locally endemic fish (Schizothorax raraensis), two species of nationally endemic fish (Schizothorax macropthalus, Schizothorax nepalensis) and one species of nationally endemic amphibian Rara paha (Paa rarica). The wet alpine pasture, moraines, and damp stream banks along the lake area are the natural habitats for endemic plants including Nirbishi (Delphinium himalayai). Rara Lake provides food and refuge for at least 49 species of migratory and resident water birds. The wetland is a source of freshwater for downstream communities, used for irrigation, micro hydropower and other domestic purposes. It regulates downstream flooding and supports ground water recharge.

Waste from hotels, park and army infrastructure near the lake has affected aquatic species diversity including endemic fish species, their population and habitat. Tourism-related activities coupled with widespread illegal livestock grazing, have degraded grasslands and forests around the lake, leading to erosion and increasing lake sedimentation. There has been a decline in the number of fish in the lake due to habitat disturbance and pollution, further exacerbated by illegal fishing and illegal harvesting of NTFPs.

Climate change threats for Rara Lake Ramsar Site include temperature and rainfall variations, droughts and the depletion of the lake water level. Other major threats include the colonization of invasive species, lack of research and monitoring of existing biodiversity and lack of conservation measures for inlet stream management.

Outcome 1:Natural resource use is sustainable and biodiversity is conserved through consistent site monitoring and research

Factors influencing the achievement of Outcome 1

There has been limited research on the site’s biodiversity, species abundance and distribution, threats and conservation requirements. Site staff have minimal research and monitoring capacity. There is a lack of awareness of the significance of the Ramsar Site and its ecological values among community members. There are few alternative livelihood options to reduce local dependency on Ramsar site resources.

To address the threats described above, the following outputs have been planned:

Output 1.1: Rara Lake management task force formed and trained to conduct site-specific research and management.

The task force is formed with a ToR and financial plan. The members of the task force will be trained on research and management to ensure updated information and regular monitoring. All of the necessary research equipment, including water quality test kits and SMART patrolling tool will be provided.

Output 1.2:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened.

Research will address knowledge gaps on species diversity, population and their habitats. The R-METT assessment will be completed and the RIS sheet will be updated with revised boundaries and ecological data.

Output 1.3:Key ecological features of the Ramsar site restored and conserved.

Based on the findings of Output 1.2, species and habitats are restored and conserved, ensuring their proliferation and the maintenance of the site’s unique characteristics.

1.1.2           Socio-economic

Evaluation

The site has high economic and aesthetic value and is largely responsible for maintaining and supporting overall environmental health; providing a source of fresh water to downstream communities.

International and local visitor numbers have been increasing, attracted by the site’s accessibility, transportation, hotels, homestays, facilities and aesthetic values. Tourism generates income through the provision of recreational activities and services such as boating, horse riding and accommodation. Other recreational activities include hiking, bird watching, cycling, photography and climbing. However, the benefits from the tourism are limited to hotel operators and some minor groups of people from horse riding.

Rara Lake is located in theKarnali province, an ancient civilization centre of Nepalwhere the Nepali language originated.The site is rich in cultural heritage sites such as caves, temples and shrines. Developing sustainable tourism activities will contribute to the preservation of the cultural features of the site.

The Karnali region is the least developed region in Nepal.People from the region often migrate to other cities of Nepal, India and other countries seeking better job opportunities. High poverty rates increase thecommunity’s dependency on environmental resources,often leading to encroachment and poaching.Agriculture, the main source of income generation is being impacted by climate change impacts such as increasing temperatures, erratic rainfall, crop disease and downstream flooding, resulting in low crop yields. In addition, farmers are facing crop depredation by wild boars and monkeys. A lack of alternative job opportunities and unequitable benefit sharing from tourism, including privately owned hotels benefitting disproportionately from tourism, discourage local people from conserving and protecting the Ramsar site.

Outcome 2:Livelihood/income sources secured and diversified for local communities, protecting the cultural heritage

Factors influencing the achievement of Outcome 2

There isa lack of interest in the culture of the site among new generations. High poverty rates and a lack of higher education is preventing the development of business skills amongst the local community. Limited visitors, despite efforts to draw them to the site, may lead the community to continue to use the site’s resources in an unsustainable manner.

To address the threats described above, the following outputs have been planned:

Output 2.1:Adaptive capacity of communities to changing climate around the Ramsar site increased. Raising awareness of climate vulnerability, training people on climate adaptation, and promoting livelihood adaptation and diversification practices in the agricultural sector and tourism industry increase adaptive capacity of communities.

Output 2.2: Local communities encouraged to preserve and promote their cultural and religious values in and around the Ramsar site.

Organising seasonal eventswill attract private sector investment in the community. The development of a village museum and supporting communities in income generating activities (IGA), including documentation of traditional knowledge and skills (ethnobotanical documentation) encouraging local people to maintain and renovate cultural and religious sites.

Output 2.3:Eco-tourism strategy for the Ramsar site that identifies opportunities for community involvement, private sector engagement, shared benefits and compatibility with the maintenance and improvement of the ecological character of the Ramsar site developed and implemented.

Revising eco-friendly infrastructure plan, upgrading visitor's facilities, training communities to be nature guides and work in hospitality management, including marketing that supports the engagement of local people engagement in sustainable tourism.

1.1.3       Governance

Evaluation

The Rara Lake Ramsar Site is located inside Rara National Park and is under the management of the federal government. DNPWC is the national Ramsar authority, and is responsible for liaising with the Ramsar Secretariat.The conservation and management of the Ramsar site is also governed by theNationalPark Management Plan. Effective governance mechanisms that support the coordination and cooperation among various organisations such as NTB, FNCCI and stakeholders such hotel operators, local government, community groups and committees can strengthen the wise use of the available resources. The development and implementation of Ramsar site regulation could improve the site governance and guide the RNP to manage the site effectively. Transparent and accountable governance practices supportmanagement interventions and help to implement the site management plan to address the identified threats.

Outcome 3:Ramsar Site governance, management and funding improved

Factors influencing the achievement of Outcome 3

The governance of the Ramsar site can be improved with the improvement in communication and coordination among the stakeholders. Limited capacity and knowledge on management of Ramsar site and Ramsar Convention can be enhanced through training, improving data base management and sustainable financing mechanism.  Active participation of the local people in conservation and management can be increased by involving community representatives in decision-making. A specific committee for the Ramsar site management is necessary to monitor the site and ensure the implementation of the management plan.

To address the threats described above, the following outputs have been planned:

Output 3.1:Co-management approach strengthened by developing aRara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-Stakeholder Management s committee that is responsible for monitoring and implementing the management plan. The committee will meet regularly to discuss the problems, issues, gaps and challenges in the conservation and protection of the site.

Output 3.2:Long-term enforcement capacity of park authorities strengthened by adopting SMART patrolling techniques and regulations. The resource use of the site is regulated, including training the management of the Ramsar site on transparency, rights and benefit-sharing. The appointment of a wetland officer who is dedicated to Rara Lake Ramsar Management will ensure that site data is updated regularly.

Output 3.3: Long-term knowledgemanagement capacity of park authoritiesensured by establishing the data management system and training the relevant staff.

Output 3.4:Establish innovative and sustainable financing mechanisms to ensure reliable source of revenue to promote wetland conservation and local livelihoods by developing and implementing sustainable funding strategies through the engagement of multiple stakeholders including the private sector.

1.1.4       Knowledge and Communication

Features

Information on Rara Lake is mentioned only as a part of Rara National Park. Visitors and local people are not aware that Rara Lake is a Ramsar Site. There are no information boards installed at the site regarding the designation of a Ramsar site, or why the Lake is particularly unique. DNPWC has published some knowledge products, but none are specific to the Ramsar site. Site managers must work to ensure that there is an understanding of the benefits provided by the site, to both the ecosystem and surrounding community. Raising awareness of site degradation and how to prevent it, is key to strengthening the resilience of Rara Lake.

Outcome 4:Awareness and understanding of the importance of the Ramsar Site at international, national and local level enhanced

Factors influencing the achievement of Outcome 4

There is a limited understand among locals and visitors of the importance of Ramsar sites. Limited site capacity and infrastructure for visitors can prevent the achievement of Outcome 4.

To address the threats described above, the following outputs have been planned:

Output 4.1:Awareness raised through the development and implementation of a comprehensive Ramsar CEPA strategy involving local stakeholders, including women and youth.

This will be achieve by establishing wetland information centre; promoting the Ramsar site to a wider audience; developing wetland related educational programs and installing site information boards.

 

1.1         Management Logframe

Project Activities

Indicators of Achievement

Means of Verification

Baseline

Risks/ Assumptions

OUTCOME 1: NATURAL RESOURCE USE IS SUSTAINABLEAND BIODIVERSITY IS CONSERVED THROUGH CONSISTENT SITE MONITORING AND RESEARCH

·   By 2025, key aquatic species and habitat managed and restored based on well informed, science based knowledge

·    Annual Progress report

 Ramsar site declaration protocol

Adequate budget and staff provided to implement management activities by the management authorities

Output 1.1:  Rara Lake management task force formed and trained to conduct site-specific research and management

·   Ramsar task force created by 2021 to support the implementation of the management plan.

·   Number of trainings  to task force by 2022

·   Protocol/guidelines for Task Force

·   Task Force TOR

·   Financial plan and letter of commitment of annual funds from DNPWC

·   Meeting minutes of task force

·   Training Reports

·   To date, a lake management task force has not been formed

DNPWC as a management authority will be supportive in taking necessary actions

Output 1.2: Knowledge and monitoring on ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

·   The main gaps in knowledge that were identified during the management plan have been filled and the   knowledge gained informed on the ground action by 2022

·   Water quality monitoring annually and health report card (HRC) baseline initiated by 2022

·   RIS updated with revised boundaries by 2025

·   Various assessment reports (such as habitat mapping, vulnerability assessment, ecosystem services, water health) and survey and monitoring guidelines

·   Database

·   New RIS sheet

 

·   To our knowledge, few, if any, research studies have been conducted on the overall ecological features of the site.

·   Some water quality studies have been conducted but a health report card has not been developed

·   RIS not updated

Research institutions and concerned conservation partners Such as IUCN, NTNC, WWF are interested to fulfil the knowledge gaps of Rara Lake Ramsar Site.

Output 1.3 Key ecological features of the Ramsar site restored and conserved

·   Set of clear and SMART actions designed and implemented to conserve the key ecological features of the lake by 2022, and

·   Target defined per species/type of ecosystem maintained by 2023

·   Implementation action plans

·   Monitoring reports

·   Number of sites (such as fish conservation zone, grassland, forest )managed

 

·   Rara National Park management plan has some activities related to habitat management but not based on any detailed study

DNPWC will allocate  sufficient fund in implementing the action plans

OUTCOME 2: LIVELIHOOD/INCOME SOURCES SECURED AND DIVERSIFIED FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES, PROTECTING THE CULTURAL HERITAGE

·   Local communities income generation increased through diversified livelihood activities by 2025

·   Improved state of cultural heritage by 2023

·   Annual progress report

 Local communities are getting minimum benefits from the Ramsar site

It is assumed that the visitor's flow will be increased  which diversify community investment opportunities.

Output 2.1: Adaptive capacity of communities to changing climate around the Ramsar site  increased

·   Communities around the site are aware of their vulnerability to climate change and have adopted simple village adaptation plans compatible with the principle of "wise use" in and around the Ramsar site by 2025

·   Training reports

·   Compatible village adaptation plan

·    Some activities are included in BZMP but need to reach a wider audience

·   No vulnerability assessment has been carried out

Communities will explore adopt Nature-based solutions as alternative livelihood options

Output 2.2: Local communities encouraged to preserve and promote their cultural and religious values in and around the Ramsar site

·   Cultural and religious assets of the site have been maintained, restored and promoted through yearly events and exhibitions, supporting management and additional income for local communities by 2025

·   Number of renovated sites and seasonal events

·   Village cultural museum

 

·   Some events are conducted but not targeted to community investment opportunities

·   Cultural museum concept is included in RNP plan 2020/2025

Importance of cultural and religious Values and traditional knowledge will be transferred to younger generation

Output 2.3: Eco-tourism strategy for the Ramsar site that identifies   opportunities for community involvement, private sector engagement, shared benefits and compatibility with the maintenance and improvement of the ecological character of the Ramsar site developed and implemented

·   Identified and validated relevant activities to strengthen eco-tourism at site-level by 2022

·   Decreased impact from ecotourism (e.g. pollution and  degradation caused by infrastructure) by 2025

·   Increased income received by the community members and the private sector by 2025

·   Number of visitors facilities, upgraded trekking trails

·   Promotional video documentary, programmes and websites

·   Training reports

 

·   Some activities are also included in RNP plan 2020/2026 such as – nature guide training, relocation of hotel, upgrade trekking trails

Nature- friendly tourism promotion and better coordination among interested private sectors

OUTCOME 3:  RAMSAR SITE GOVERNANCE, MANAGEMENT AND FUNDING IMPROVED

·   By 2025, a better coordination and understanding developed among the concerned stakeholders and long term enforcement and management capacity of park authorities ensured through sustainable financing mechanism

·   Meeting minutes and annual progress report

 Local communities representation is established under NPWC Act 2029 BS and Buffer Zone management regulation 2052 BS

Reduced Park-peoples conflict

Output 3.1: Co-management approach strengthened

·   A Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-Stakeholder Mangement Committee that includes local community representatives .that meets regularly to discuss and validate the work plan for the management task force and monitor management plan implementation; integrates local concerns and knowledge; and supports a link with the Rara NP management as evidenced by meetings minutes and decisions taken by the committee created by 2022.

·   Protocol/ guidelines for steering committee including financial plan

·   Meeting minutes

·   Training reports

 

·   There is BZMC but no specific steering committee for Rara Lake Ramsar Site

·   No Ramsar related trainings have been organized

Better understanding and coordination mechanism among local communities and park authorities

 

DNPWC will be supportive in taking necessary actions

Output 3.2: Long-term enforcement capacity of park authorities strengthened

·   Strengthened or adapted local regulations based on new knowledge like Spatial monitoring and reporting tool (SMART) patrolling by 2023

·   Dedicated officer identified within park system by 2022

·   Improved enforcement capacity through regulation of authorization of BZMC by 2025

·   Regular and standardized patrol reports

·   SMART data collection protocol and database including designed data model and key patrol parameters

·   Meeting minutes

·   No Smart patrolling techniques adopted

·   Currently there is no Ramsar Site dedicated office

·   BZMC conduct meetings but do not effectively regulate the use of resources

Park staff are not transferred frequently and motivated

Output 3.3: Long-term knowledge management capacity of park authorities ensured

·   By 2021, data management processes and tools established

·   Local authorities are trained on their use by 2021.

·   Knowledge easily available that supports meetings and dialogues around the management plan 2021.

·   Database software

·   Number of trainings

·   Database reports

·   No database management system

GoN is supportive in allocating sufficient fund and taking necessary actions

Output 3.4: Establish innovative and sustainable financing mechanism to ensure reliable source of revenue to promote wetland conservation and local livelihoods

·   By 2022, stakeholder identified and approved sustainable funding strategy in place

·   By 2025, Rara Lake has implemented self-sustaining financing.

·   Meeting minutes

·   Funding strategy

·    No meeting organised on funding strategy

Local communities, Private sectors  and conservation concerns will be interested and actively participated

OUTCOME 4: AWARENESS AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RAMSAR SITE AT INTERNATIONAL, NATIONAL AND LOCAL LEVEL ENHANCED

By 2025, the visibility of the Rara Lake Ramsar Site increased

Annual progress report,

ICT materials

 Hardly any ICT materials developed based on research for promoting ecotourism or community awareness 

Better understanding of the site will helps to maintain the ecological integrity of the site through peoples participation

Output 4.1: Awareness raised through the development and implementation of a comprehensive Ramsar CEPA strategy involving local stakeholders, including women and youth

·   Local wetlands information centre by 2022

·   Greater understanding of Ramsar amongst local stakeholders through trainings and information board by 2024

·   Development and distribution of ICT materials for wider dissemination by 2022

·   Production of media pieces at national and global level by 2025

·   Hosting of several events by 2025

·   Visitors book

·   Information boards

·   ICT materials

·   Conference reports and events

·   Events, media coverage

 

·   No information centre established

·   World Wetland Day (WWD) not previously organised, but some promotional activities  (Rara Festival)

 


2       Operational plan

The Management Plan of the Rara Lake Ramsar site covers a five-year period in which the actions required to achieve the outcomes will take place, and maintain the ecological character of the site.

Each activity is broken down to outline the details needed for effective implementation. Details include how to implement, a baseline against which change can be measured, short-term outputs measuring the site’s management, longer-term outcomes measuring the wetland environment, indicative schedules, the location of the site it is applicable to, who is responsible, its priority as part of the larger action plan, indicative budgets and assumptions and risks.

Actions are scheduled based on the order in which they need to occur and their level of priority across the five years. The prioritization of actions per half-year period will be done as an annual review.

Indicative budgets have been estimated per activity and sub-activity and will be subject to change as detailed plans are made and budgets required for additional identified management strategies and technical actions are determined. Periodic reviews and Adaptive Management principles will be applied to the action plan, where systematic improvements will be made based on monitoring and learning.Therefore, the budget and schedule will constantly be refined and evolve based on lived experience.

1.1         Work planand budget

Activities

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

Total budget (NPR)

A 1.1.1: Develop and adopt a Terms of Reference (ToR) and financing plan for the Rara Lake management task force and assign members

         

1,50,000

A 1.1.2: Provide  park staff and security staff with SMART patrolling and research equipment

         

55,00,000

A 1.1.3: Organize a training on patrolling and research techniques

         

20,00,000

A1.1.4: Strengthen the operationalization of climate monitoring stations

         

2,00,000

Activity 1.2.1: Map habitats through remote sensing and ground-truthing and develop a comprehensive description of the ecological character of the site, to serve as baseline for monitoring

         

25,00,000

Activity 1.2.2: Conduct a participatory climate change vulnerability assessment of key species, ecosystems and livelihoods in and around the lake

         

25,00,000

Activity 1.2.3: Conduct an assessment and monitoring of the population health of the endemic species and migratory and residential birds that use the lake throughout the year

         

50,00,000

Activity 1.2.4: Conduct an in-depth assessment of the ecosystem services provided by the Ramsar site including valuation of services and setting the limits of acceptable change in the site while diversifying  Income Generating Activities (IGA), ecotourism services

         

50,00,000

Activity 1.2.5: Monitor water quality in the lake and update the Rara Lake health report card (HRC)

         

3,50,000

Activity 1.2.6: Carry out two R-METT assessments, one in 2022, and one in 2025

         

10,00,000

Activity 1.2.7: Conduct study on the impact of grazing on the ecosystems and options to strengthen ranger enforcement capacity and identify alternative grazing areas around the Ramsar site

         

1,00,000

Activity 1.2.8: Update the RIS and revise the boundaries of the Ramsar site (following the watershed)

         

5,00,000

Activity 1.2.9: Conduct a study on the geology of Rara lake including its potential outbreak

         

50,00,000

Activity 1.3.1: Prepare and implement a Snow Trout (asala) Conservation Action Plan

         

10,00,000

Activity 1.3.2: Develop habitat management/conservation/restoration work plans based on results including limiting the impact of infrastructure on key habitats and restoration of ecosystems

         

1,50,000

Activity 1.3.3: Improve and manage habitats for wetland dependent birds (e.g. roosting and foraging sites), endemic fish species (e.g. fish spawning sites) and other wildlife through the protection of water resources

         

30,00,000

Activity 2.1.1: Provide training on climate change adaptation for communities and prepare village adaptation plan

         

10,00,000

Activity 2.1.2: Promote livelihood adaptation and diversification practices

         

50,00,000

Activity 2.2.1: Maintain and renovate cultural and religious sites

         

30,00,000

Activity 2.2.2: Organize seasonal events (eg. Local food festival, religious festivals) that increase investment in the community

         

5,00,000

Activity 2.2.3: Develop village museum and communication products (videos, exhibitions) including ethnobotanical documentation

         

24,50,000

Activity 2.3.1: Revise the infrastructure plan at site-level, including potential relocation of hotels near the lake, regulating pollution from park units, upgrading visitor facilities, trekking trails,  existing route around the lake for cycling and horse riding to control erosion, and construction of hide house for birding

         

1,62,00,000

Activity 2.3.2: Produce marketing campaign plans

         

26,00,000

Activity 2.3.3: Train communities on nature guiding, hospitality and homestays, and tourism marketing in collaboration with the private sector

         

40,00,000

Activity 3.1.1: Develop and adopt a ToR for the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-stakeholder Management Committee (RRMMC) including park authorities, BZMC, local residents, ensuring gender equality

         

1,50,000

Activity 3.1.2: Train the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-stakeholder Management Committee on the content of the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Management Plan and the Ramsar Convention and organise regular meetings

         

12,50,000

Activity 3.2.1: Adopt SMART patrolling techniques and regulation

         

2,00,000

Activity 3.2.2: Regulate authorization of BZMC for the collection of NTFPs/MAPs

         

8,00,000

Activity 3.2.3: Provide training on management of Ramsar site including transparency, rights and benefits sharing to Ramsar Management Unit, Park staff and communities

         

10,00,000

Activity 3.2.4: Identify a dedicated officer for wetland/ Ramsar management within the park system

         

20,000

Activity 3.2.5: Develop regulations for Mountain Protected Areas with Ramsar Site

         

25,00,000

Activity 3.3.1: Establish and maintain data management system and provide training to Ramsar Management Unit, and regulate research permits and activities conducted inside Ramasr site

         

7,50,000

Activity 3.4.1: Develop, validate and implement a funding strategy  through consultation with local authorities, communities, private sector and public donors

         

2,00,000

Activity 4.1.1: Conduct wetlands-related educational programs in communities and schools around the Ramsar site, including a world wetland day celebration at the site

         

35,00,000

Activity 4.1.2: Promote the Ramsar site through national platforms, media and other regional and international events including the Ramsar COP, IUCN WCC and CBD COP

         

5,50,000

Activity 4.1.3: Establish a wetland information centre with displays about the ecoogy, history and cultural importance of the site and install Ramsar information board throughout the site

         

32,00,000

Activity 4.1.4: Develop and distribute Information and Communication Technology (ICT) materials

         

12,00,000

Activity 4.1.5: Develop and implement a Rara Ramsar Site Communication, Education and Public Awareness Plan

         

15,00,000

 

1.2         Activity descriptions

Outcome 1: Natural resource use is sustainable and biodiversity is conserved through consistent site monitoring and research

Activity 1.1.1: Develop and adopt a ToR and financing plan for the Rara Lake management task force and assign members

Management plan objective: Rara Lake management taskforce formed and trained to conduct site-specific research management

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC will provision to form Rara lake management task force.

·         RNP will led the process to form the task force at the site level.

Action description:

·         Meet for provisioningthe task force at DNPWC Hall.

·         Workshop will be conducted todevelop the TORand Financial Plan of the task force.

·         RNP will form the task force and inform and discus the TOR 

Links with other management actions:

·         The task force is responsible to conduct the research and monitoring of the site which is related to activities of  output 1.2 and output 1.3

Location:

The meetings will be held at DNPWC office, Kathmandu and RNP headquarter office, Rara.

Schedule:

By the mid of 2021, the task force is formed with complete TOR and financial plan.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The task force is provisioned and assign at the site to conduct research and regular monitoring of the site

Budget:

·         NRP 1,00,000 for meeting cost at DNPWC including preparation of TOR and financing plan of the site task force.

·         NRP 50,000 for the formation of task force and inform and discuss TOR and financial plan.

Total cost ₌NRP 1,50,000

Activity 1.1.2: Provide park staff and security staff with SMART patrolling and research equipment

Management plan objective: Rara Lake management taskforce formed and trained to conduct site-specific research management

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         The activity will be the responsibility of DNPWC with the support from Nepal Army, and conservation partners.

Action description:

SMART patrolling equipment

The SMART tool is a widely adopted best practice to better monitor, evaluate and adaptively manage patrolling techniques. It includes a powerful software application that improves the ability of park authorities to combat the illegal activities with limited resources. It motivates park and army staff in their day-to-day work; empower park managers with timely and accurate information; guide park managers in using the collected information strategically to better plan and manage their patrolling operations and ensure accountability and good governance.

·         The park will be provided with the necessary field equipment for collecting and managing patrol data Such as computer, GPS units, batteries, battery chargers, power source etc.

·         SMART phones with special application (ecological monitoring and intelligence data collection) to collect field data for use with SMART analysis.

·         The permanent computer will be fixed at the site level which is operated by the trained and skilled Park staff (dedicated officer for wetland management)

·         Install the SMART software and application in the monitoring computer

Water quality parameter test kit and other research equipment's

·         The park is provided with the water quality parameter test kit. The task force will be responsible to monitor the water quality of Rara Lake and update it in every three month..

Links with other management actions:

·         This equipment provided will support the task force to conduct research and monitoring

Location:

·         The equipment purchased will be delivered to RNP.

Schedule:

·         By the end of 2021, water quality test instrument is purchased and delivered to RNP

·         By the end of 2021, SMART patrolling equipment are purchased and delivered to RNP

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The equipment's received help the task force and park staff in effective patrolling, regular monitoring and conducting some rapid ecological assessment including water quality test.

Budget:

·         NRP 15, 00,000 for purchasing water quality test instrument.

·         NRP 5,00,000 for purchasing software and applications

·         NRP 30,00,000 for SMART patrolling equipment's (Such as computer, GPS units, night vision binoculars,  SMART phones, batteries)

·         NRP 5, 00,000 for task force field gears.

 

Total cost ₌NRP 55,00,000

Activity 1.1.3: Organize a training on patrolling and research techniques

Management plan objective: Rara Lake management taskforce formed and trained to conduct site-specific research and  management

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC in coordination with Nepal Army will be responsible to conduct this activity with technical support from conservation partners (BCN, WWF, ZSL, IUCN, Panthera), assisted by RNP at the site.

·         The task force including other frontline staff and ecological monitoring staff are the participants.

Action description:

The experience and knowledge of SMART adaptive management approach from the other protected areas such as Chitwan National park will be used to introduce SMART, and organise training to mobilize taskforce 

·         The content and structure of the course will be designed which covers the field data collection using patrol forms, using GPS for navigation, data recording on handheld devices using  smartphones and SMART mobile, a special application.

·         Experts/ consultancy services will be hired to provide trainings

·         At least six staff will be trained in water quality research and equipment handling and reporting.

·         Conduct refresher trainings to keep the task force up to date and will be conducted every two years period.

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity is interconnected with the activities of all outcome 1 & 2

Location:

·         The training will be organised at the Park headquarter, Rara with field practices at the site.

Schedule:

By the end of 2022, all the trainings are conducted and the task force in operation.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The task force are well trained on SMART patrolling and management approach.

·         The advance and improved knowledge of task force including the other park staff helps in maintaining the ecological characteristics of the site.

·         The  water health report card is updated regularly.

Budget:

·         NRP 10,00,000 for consultancy services for designing training course modules and fees

·         NRP 20,00,000 for all trainings expenses (including training materials, travel, food and accommodation)

Total cost ₌NRP 20,00,000

Activity 1.1.4:  Strengthen the operationalization of climate monitoring station

Management plan objective: Rara Lake management taskforce formed and trained to conduct site-specific research and  management

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         The operationalization of climate monitoring stations will be done in coordination and collaboration with Department of Hydrology and Meteorology.

·         The task force will regularly updated the record of climate data (temperature and precipitation)

Action description:

·         A meeting will be held with DHM to operate and function the climate monitoring station function and the task force trained accordingly.

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity supports in research and helps in taking management decisions.

Location:

·         The training will be organised at the Park headquarter, Rara with field practices at the site.

Schedule:

By the end of 2021, all the trainings are conducted.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The task force are well trained on operation and functioning of the climate monitoring station and update the record.

Budget:

·         NRP 2, 00,000 for meetings with stakeholders including DHM.

Total cost ₌NRP 2,00,000

Activity 1.2.1: Map habitats through remote sensing and ground-truthing and develop a comprehensive description of the ecological character of the site, to serve as baseline for monitoring

Management plan objective:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC in coordination with RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity.

·         This activity requires GIS specialist/ consultant who will be assisted by the task force.

Action description:

Habitat mapping is important to better understand the distribution and extent of the habitats. It visualise the relationship or impact caused by human activities and helps in identification of research needs related to management of biodiversity. It can be use as a tool for conservation and sustainable use of resources

·         GIS specialist will be hired and task force will support the specialist in ground truthing.

·         A detailed study will be carried to develop a comprehensive description of ecological character of the site.

·         Based on the study, an illustrative habitat map will be prepared.

·         Produce habitat maps will serve as a baseline for monitoring

·         Organise workshop to present the maps.

Links with other management actions:

·         Based on the findings of this activity, Outcome 2 activities will be designed and implemented

·         The field work can be done together with biodiversity survey.

Location:

·         Rara Lake Ramsar Site

Schedule:

·         Prepare TOR for the GIS specialist and hire by early 2021.

·         By the end of 2021, an illustrative habitat map will be prepared

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The park has a detailed illustrative habitat map that helps in conservation of habitat in the Ramsar Site.

Budget:

NRP 20,00,000 for consultancy services.

NRP 4,50,000 for field work, includes travel, food, accommodation.

NRP 50,000 for organising workshop to present the maps

 

Total cost ₌NRP25,00,000

Activity 1.2.2: Conduct a participatory climate change vulnerability assessment of key species, ecosystems and livelihoods in and around the lake

Management plan objective:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors

·         DNPWC in coordination with RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity.

·         This activity requires biodiversity expert and other consultant who will be assisted by the task force.

·         Communities will be involved during the process

Action description:

·         Consultants will be hired.

·         A detailed study will be carried out on climate change vulnerability assessment, a participatory approach will be adopted.

·         During the assessment process the task force will also be trained

·         Organise workshops to present the findings

Links with other management actions

·         Based on the findings of this activity, Outcome 2 activities will be designed and implemented

Location:

Rara Lake Ramsar Site

Schedule:

·         Prepare TOR for the Consultancy services by early 2021.

·         By the end of 2021, an detailed report will be prepared and presented

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The park has gained knowledge on climate change vulnerability, plan the activities accordingly.

Budget:

NRP 20,00,000 for consultancy services.

NRP 4,50,000 for field work, includes travel, food, accommodation.

NRP 50,000 for organising workshop to present the maps

 

Total cost ₌NRP25,00,000

Activity 1.2.3: Conduct an assessment and monitoring of the population health of the endemic species and migratory and residential birds that use the lake throughout the year

Management plan objective:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC in coordination with RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity.

·         This activity requires fish biologist and ornithologist who will be assisted by the task force

Action description:

·         Experts (consultants) will be hired.

·          A detailed survey of endemic fishes and a frog will be conducted.

·         A detailed survey of the migratory and residential birds will be conducted

·         Monitoring guidelines developed and operational

·         Present the findings of the assessment.

Links with other management actions:

·         The fish biologist and ornithologist will work in close coordination with GIS specialist to map the habitat of these species.

Location:

Rara Lake and its catchment

Schedule:

·         Prepare TOR for the Consultancy services by early 2021.

·         By the end of 2021, an detailed report will be prepared and presented

Indicators of Achievement:

The park has gained knowledge detailed knowledge on endemic species and water birds.

Budget:

NRP 45,00,000 for consultancy services.

NRP 4,50,000 for field work, includes travel, food, accommodation.

NRP 50,000 for organising workshop to present the findings

 

 

Total cost ₌NRP50,00,000

Activity 1.2.4: Conduct an in-depth assessment of the ecosystem services provided by the Ramsar site including valuation of services and setting the limits of acceptable change in the site while diversifying IGA, ecotourism services

Management plan objective:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC in coordination with RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity.

·         This activity requires fish Resource economist with expertise in assessing ecosystem services who will be assisted by the task force

Action description:

The detailed assessment of ecosystem services support in planning the use of area, however, the process is really challenging and difficult, since there are multiple factors to analysed and compared. It included bio-physical assessment, social assessment, and economic assessment.Setting limits of acceptable change is challenging as it requires sufficient data better understanding of ecologicalcharacterises.  It is helpful to Ramsar site managers to understand the ecological characters of wetland and help site managers to monitor the site, identify management actions and determine limitations to activities to maintain the ecological character of the site. The resource economist need to work closely with GIS experts and other consultant hired to acquired knowledge on ecological characteristics of the Ramsar site.

·         Prepare TOR for consultancy service and hire consultant

·         Meet with all other consultants to acquire knowledge generated. The process is facilitated by DNPWC

·         A detailed study will be carried out on the ecosystem services.

·         Detailed report including limits of acceptable change in the site while diversifying IGA and ecotourism services such as horse riding boating and cycling will be prepared by consultant.

·         Organise workshop to present the findings of the assessment

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity requires various data, thus need to work closely with other consultants

Location:

·         Ramsar site and its surrounding area

Schedule:

·         Prepare TOR for the Consultancy services by early 2023.

·         By the end of 2023, an detailed report will be prepared and presented

Indicators of Achievement:

·         Based on the valuation of ecosystem services, the park has defined the limits of acceptable changes, and the services are provided accordingly.

Budget:

NRP 45,00,000 for consultancy services.

NRP 4,50,000 for field work, includes travel, food, accommodation.

NRP 50,000 for organising workshop to present the findings

 

Total cost ₌NRP50,00,000

Activity 1.2.5: Monitor water quality in the lake and update the Rara Lake health report card (HRC)

Management plan objective:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC will lead the process with technical support from conservation partners

Action description:

·         Water quality monitoring initiated

·         Guideline and protocol of health report card prepared and adopted.

·         HRC baseline initiated, updated quarterly and displayed in strategic locations

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity depends on the activity 1.1.1 & 1.1.3

Location:

·         Rara Lake

Schedule:

·         By 2021Rara Lake HRC guidelines and protocol adopted and Rara Lake HRC baseline initiated

·         Update quarterly monitoring of the health of the Rara Lake

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The health of the Rara lake Base line is initiated and updated regularly

Budget:

·         NRP 2,50,000 for the workshops to prepare guideline and protocol of HRC

·         NRP 1,00,000 for baseline initiation and quarterly update of HRC

Total cost ₌NRP 3,50,000

Activity 1.2.6: Carry out two R-METT assessments, one in 2022, and one in 2025

Management plan objective:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP will lead the process with technical support from IUCN

·         All the concerned stakeholders will participant during the assessment process

Action description:

R-METT is carried out to develop a baseline on current management effectiveness.

·         Workshop will be organised and all the concerned stakeholders including community leaders, government staff and Ramsar Site Steering committee, as well as education, tourism and business sectors are invited.

·         This followed by the assessment process, addressing different sections of the R-METT including site threats, management and governance processes, and reviewing the status of Ramsar criteria.

·         Activities are detailed to improve the management of the Ramsar Site

·         Organise workshop to present the findings of the assessment

·         Conduct R-METT every two years period of time.

Links with other management actions

·         The results and findings obtained from other activity support the assessment process.

Location:

·         RNP headquarter office

Schedule:

·         Two assessment will be carried out in between 2021 - 2025

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The Ramsar site management effectiveness has assessed with a recognised tracking tool by the Ramsar convention.

Budget:

NRP 10,00,000 for the two assessment.

 

Total cost ₌NRP 10,00,000

Activity 1.2.7: Conduct study on the impact of grazing on the ecosystems and options to strengthen ranger enforcement capacity and identify alternative grazing areas around the Ramsar site

Management plan objective:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

RNP will be responsible to carry out this activity

Action description:

·         Assessment of grasslands and alternative measures to reduce pressure on rangeland explored.

Links with other management actions:

·         The results and findings of the activity 1.2.1 & 1.2.4 will help identify the alternative grazing areas around the Ramsar site

Location:

·         Rara lake Ramsar site and its surrounding areas

Schedule:

·         By the end of 2021, a detailed report on impacts of grazing and alternative areas will be prepared

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The grassland within the Ramsar site conserved through SMART patrolling and provided and alternative grazing areas to reduce the impact of unmanaged grazing

Budget:

NRP 1,00,000 for field survey

 

Total cost ₌NRP 1,00,000

Activity 1.2.8: Update the RIS and revise the boundaries of the Ramsar site (following the watershed)

Management plan objective:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors

·         DNPWC with technical support from IUCN will be responsible to update RIS

Action description:

·         RIS need to review and update every six years by the national Ramsar management authority.

·         DNPWC will process to update the RIS by sending a request email to Ramsar secretariat.

·         Update RIS and send to Ramsar secretariat for approval.

 

Links with other management actions:

·         The R-METT assessment and other research findings will provided information to update RIS

Location:

·         RIS will be updated with support form IUCN

Schedule:

·         By the end of 2025, RIS will be revised and updated

Indicators of Achievement:

·         By the end of 2025, RIS with the revision on boundaries (following watershed) is updated.

Budget:

·         NRP 5,00,000 for preparing updated RIS sheet

 

Total cost ₌NRP 5,00,000

Activity 1.2.9: Conduct a study on the geology of Rara Lake including its potential outbreak

Management plan objective:Knowledge and monitoring of ecological features of the Ramsar site strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP will lead the process.

·         RNP will collaborate with universities/department of Geology to conduct the study.

Action description:

·         Experts (consultants) will be hired.

·          A detailed survey of the geology of Rara Lake including its potential outbreak will be conducted.

·         Present the findings of the assessment and detailed report will be submitted.

Links with other management actions:

·         Based on the findings of this assessment, habitat management and ecosystem restoration activities are designed.

Location:

Rara Lake and its catchment

Schedule:

·         Prepare TOR for the Consultancy services by early 2021.

·         By the end of 2021, an detailed report will be prepared and presented

Indicators of Achievement:

The park has gained detailed knowledge on the geology of Rara Lake.

Budget:

NRP 50, 00,000 for consultancy services (included all expenses like food and accommodation, workshop cost, field survey and fee).

Total cost ₌NRP 50,00,000

Activity 1.3.1: Prepare and implement a Snow Trout Conservation Action Plan

Management plan objective:Key ecological features of the Ramsar site restored and conserved

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC in coordination with RNP will be responsible to carried out this activity.

·         A consultant team will be hired to prepare the action plan

·         Local communities residing around the Ramsar Site and all concerned stakeholders will participate in the plan preparation process.

Action description:

Endemic fishes are the key aquatic species of the Rara Lake Ramsar Site. Based on the results of the studies (activity 1.2.3), with a focus on fish conservation zones (temporary or permanent no access zones on refuges, spawning and feeding habitats), strict enforcement of the no-fishing regulation and ecosystem management to ensure natural hydrology and water quality will be maintained

·         Prepare TOR and a consultants will be hired.

·         Conduct a series of workshops at different levelas a process of consultation.

·         Prepare and present Snow Trout Conservation Action Plan, and endorese by DNPWC for implementation.

Links with other management actions:

·         The results and findings obtained from activity 1.2.3 provide information to prepare this action plan

Location:

·         The workshops will be conducted at central, provincial and site level.

Schedule:

·         The snow trout conservation action plan will be prepared by 2023.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The endemic fish species of Rara lake is conserved through implementation of the snow trout conservation action plan.

Budget:

NRP 10,00,000 for the preparation of the action plan

 

Total cost ₌NRP 10,00,000

Activity 1.3.2: Develop habitat management/ conservation/restoration work plans based on results including limiting the impact of infrastructure on key habitats (e.g. grassland) and restoration of ecosystems (e.g. Forest landscape restoration) 

Management plan objective:Key ecological features of the Ramsar site restored and conserved

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP in coordination with DNPWC will be responsible to conduct this activity.

·         The potential collaborators for this activity are conservation partners, local and provincial government,

Action description:

·         Based on the results and findings of the activity of output 1.2, the target species habitat management plan will be prepared for implementation.

·         The detailed activities will be designed as per the illustrative habitat maps and recommendation from the research reports.

·         Identify and prioritize the restoration site (grassland, forest, water resources) for implementation

·         Conduct regular monitoring and prepare monitoring reports.

Links with other management actions:

·         The result and findings of output 1.2 will provided information to identify and prioritize the habitat restoration sites

Location:

Rara Lake Ramsar Site

Schedule:

·         By 2022, the habitat restoration sites are identified and prioriotize.

·         Detailed activities/ work plan will be prepared and implemented from 2023

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The degraded habitats are restored and conserved through implementation of detailed work plan

Budget:

NRP 1,00,000 for meeting/ workshop

NRP 50,00,000 for implementation of work plan.

 

Total cost ₌NRP 1,50,000

Activity 1.3.3: Improve and manage habitats for wetland dependent birds(e.g. roosting and foraging sites), endemic fish species (e.g. fish spawning sites) and other wildlife through the protection of water resources

Management plan objective:Key ecological features of the Ramsar site restored and conserved

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity with technical support for IUCN.

Action description:

Based on the results and findings of the activity of output 1.2, integrated water management approach will be adopted for the protection of water resources.

·         Workshop to prioritize the site and identify the detailed activities

·         Protection of water resources in identified habitat

Links with other management actions

Location:

·         Rara Lake Ramsar site

Schedule:

·         Identify and prioritize the list of activities by 2022 and implemented from 2023

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The water resources of the Rara lake Ramsar site is protected and habitats for wetland dependent birds and other wildlife improved and managed.

·         At least 10 sites improved and managed through protection of water resources

Budget:

NRP 30,00,000 for implementation of water resources protection

 

Total cost ₌NRP 30,00,000

Outcome 2: Livelihood/ income sources secured and diversified for local communities, protecting the cultural and natural heritage

Activity 2.1.1: Provide training on climate change adaptation for communities and prepare village adaptation plan

Management plan objective:Adaptive capacity of communities to changing climate around the Ramsar site  increased

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP in collaboration with local government will be responsible to carry out this activity.

·         All the community residing around the Ramsar site will participate in the training

Action description:

·         Prepare TOR for hiring capacity building experts

·         Design training course content and program schedule

·         Capacity building training on climate adaptation to all the participants living around the Ramsar site.

·         Prepare village adaptation plan

·         Refresher training organized for progress tracking as well as assessing problems and constraints with climate vulnerability

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity support to carry out the activity 2.1.2

Location:

·         Communities living nearby the Ramsar site

Schedule:

The training will be conducted by the end of 2022 and village adaptation plan implemented from 2023

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The people living around the Ramsar site are aware about the changing climate and implemented village adaptation plan.

Budget:

NRP 5,00,000 for consulting service including preparation of village adaption plan

NRP for 5,00,000 for organising training and necessary consultation to prepare plan.

Total cost ₌NRP 10,00,000

Activity 2.1.2: Promote livelihood adaptation and diversification practices

Management plan objective:Adaptive capacity of communities to changing climate around the Ramsar site  increased

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP will support the community to conduct this activity.

Action description:

Community livelihood adaptation and diversification practices will be promoted based on the results of the vulnerability assessment (including water management for agriculture and consumption, crop diversification and capacity building for tourism), Village adaption plan will be implemented with support from RNP and local government

·         5 trainings organized for technical capacity of communities/groups to implement IGA business plan

·         1 Cooperative mechanism developed for the sustainability of financial and progress monitoring

·         Financial subsidies/incentives provided for implementing IGA Business Plan

·         IGA quarterly monitoring for income enhancement

Links with other management actions:

·         The village adaptation plan (activity 2.1.1) help to prioritize IGA business plan)

Location:

·         Communities living nearby the Ramsar site

Schedule:

·         All the trainings will be completed by 2023

·         Cooperative mechanism developed by 2024

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The adaptive capacity of community improved through increased technical capacity  to implement IGA business plan

Budget:

NRP 20,00,000 for organising training

NRP 30,00,000 for financial subsidies to implement IGA business plan

Total cost ₌NRP 50,00,000

Activity 2.2.1: Maintain and renovate cultural and religious sites

Management plan objective:Local communities encouraged to preserve and promote their cultural and religious values in and around the Ramsar site

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP will support the community to conduct this activity.

Action description:

·         Workshop/ Meetings for prioritizing the cultural and religious sites for renovation                                              

·         Cultural and religious sites renovated and regularly maintained

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity will maintain the cultural and religious values of the Ramsar site and contribute in tourism promotion

Location:

·          Cultura and religious site within Rara Lake Ramsar Site (such as Chhapru Mahadev, Rara Mahadeva, Thakurnath Mahadeva, Laguda and Dopheshwar Mahadeva)

Schedule:

·         By the end of 2024, the cultural and religious site will be renovated.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The cultural and religious site of the Ramsar site is maintained and renovated

Budget:

NRP 30,00,000 for maintenance and renovation

 

Total cost ₌NRP 30,00,000

 

Activity 2.2.2: Organize seasonal events (e.g. local food festival, religious festivals) that increase investment in the community

Management plan objective:Local communities encouraged to preserve and promote their cultural and religious values in and around the Ramsar site

Stakeholders and key actors:

RNP will support the community to conduct this activity.

Action description:

·         Meeting of stakeholders to organize seasonal events                                                         

·         Coordination meeting with private sector, Ramsar steering committee and locals to support events that promote investment opportunities                                                      

Links with other management actions:

 

Location:

·         Rara Lake Ramsar Site

Schedule:

·         Seasonal events organized at once a year

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The local products are promoted through seasonal events and private sector are attracted to invest in the community.

Budget:

NRP 5,00,000 for organising seasonal events.

 

Total cost ₌NRP 5,00,000

Activity 2.2.3: Develop village museum and communication products (videos, exhibitions) including ethnobotanical documentation

Management plan objective:Local communities encouraged to preserve and promote their cultural and religious values in and around the Ramsar site

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         Rara Lake Ramsar Site Steering committee with support from RNP, NTB  and local government

·         Conservation partners will be the potential collaborators for documentation.

Action description:

·         Meet stakeholders including local government, community people to introduce and discuss the activity

·         Ethnobotanical, traditional knowledge and skills documented and presented in village museum

·         Prepare guideline and protocol of village museum concept

·         Village Cultural Museum developed    

Links with other management actions:

·         The village museum concept will  support in generating IGA business plan and promote ecotourism

Location:

·         Murma Village

Schedule:

·         By 2023 community will be prepared to develop village museum and develop guideline and protocol

·         By 2024 Village Cultural museum develop.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The community are benefitted with the operation of village cultural museum.

Budget:

NRP 2,50,000 for meetings

NRP 2,00,000 for ethnobotanical documentation

NRP 20,00,000 for development of village cultural museum

 

Total cost ₌NRP 24,50,000

Activity 2.3.1: Revise the infrastructure plan at site-level, including potential relocation of hotels near the lake, regulating pollution from park units, upgrading visitor facilities, trekking trails, existing route around the lake for cycling and horse riding to control erosion and hide house for birding

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity in coordination and collaboration with local, provincial government and concerned development partners.

Action description:

·         Meet with stakeholders including local and provincial government and development partners to revise the infrastructure plan eco-friendly.

·         Workshop for the development of pollution management mechanism conducted

·         Pollution negation information boards and notice in strategic places and hotel and accommodationcentres in place

·         Materials and equipment for pollution collection and disposal sites in place

·         Pollution monitoring practices in place

·         Workshop/meetings for revising and prioritizing the infrastructure plan

·         Visitor facilities, trekking trails  and existing route around the lake upgraded  

·         Construct hide house for birding.

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity helps the visitors and communities aware on Ramsar site, and eco-friendly infrastructure helps to maintain the ecological integrity of the site.

 

Location:

·         Rara lake Ramsar Site

Schedule:

·         Meeting with stakeholder by 2022

·         Upgrade visitors facilities including hide house for birding by 2024

·         Develop and implement pollution management mechanisms by 2023.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The infrastructure plan are revised that help in maintaining the integrity of the ecological characters and visitors are provided with better facilities

Budget:

NRP 10,00,000 for workshops  for the development of pollution regulation mechanism including installations of  disposal bins, information boards

NRP 2, 00,000 for meetings for revising infrastructure plan including relocation of hotels.

NRP 1, 00, 00,000 for upgrading trekking trails and visitors facilities and existing route around the lake.

NRP 50,00,000 for construction of hide house for birding

 

Total cost ₌NRP 1,62,00,000

Activity 2.3.2: Produce marketing campaign plans

Management plan objective:Eco-tourism strategy for the Ramsar site that identifies  opportunities for community involvement, private sector engagement, shared benefits and compatibility with the maintenance and improvement of the ecological character of the Ramsar site developed and implemented

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         The process will be led by Rara Lake Ramsar Site Steering committee with support from RNP,  in coordination with NTB, BZMC, local and provincial government and tourism industry

Action description:

·         Workshop/ meetings with stakeholders for producing and marketing campaign plans                  

·         Advertisement and awareness programs broadcasted through different communication systems such as radio, television, social media

·         Develop Rara lake Ramsar Site website

·         1 promotional video documentary developed and broadcasted                                                                

 

Links with other management actions

·         The activity promote the site to wider audience and support and diversify IGA

Location:

·         Nationally and internationally

Schedule:

·         Meetings conducted by 2022

·         By 2023, campaign plans will be developed with promotional video documentary broadcasted through different media

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The Rara Lake Ramsar site is well-presented to wider audience through different medias.

Budget:

NRP 1,00,000 for meetings

NRP 10,00,000 for advertisement and broadcasting

NRP 10,00,000 for developing promotional video documentary

NRP 5,00,000 for developing website

 

Total cost ₌NRP 26,00,000

Activity 2.3.3: Train communities on nature guiding, hospitality and homestays, and tourism marketing in collaboration with the private sector

Management plan objective:Eco-tourism strategy for the Ramsar site that identifies  opportunities for community involvement, private sector engagement, shared benefits and compatibility with the maintenance and improvement of the ecological character of the Ramsar site developed and implemented

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity in coordination with Rara Lake Ramsar Site steering committee.

·         Communities residing around the site will be benefitted from the training.

Action description:

·         Meet with stakeholders to plan the training for each year

·         5 trainings will be conducted in the period of 5 year

·         Experts will be hired depend on the nature of training.

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity will support in promotion of ecotourism

Location:

Park headquarter

Schedule:

·         Different trainings will be conducted by 2023

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The communities are prepared to promote the tourism business and private sector are attracted to invest in the community

Budget:

NRP 40,00,000 for organising five trainings

 

Total cost ₌NRP 40,00,000

Outcome 3: Ramsar site governance, management and funding improved

Activity 3.1.1: Develop and adopt a ToR for the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-stakeholder Management Committee (RRMMC) including Park authorities, BZMC, local residents, ensuring gender equality

Management plan objective:Co-management approach strengthened implemented

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC will provision for the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-Stakeholder Management Committee.

·         RNP will led the process to form the Managementcommittee at the site level.

Action description:

·         Meet for commissioning RRMMC at DNPWC.

·         Workshop will be conducted todevelop the TOR and Financial Plan of the steering committee.

·         RNP will meet with concerned stakeholders including BZMC,  communities residing around the Ramsar site, tourism and travel agencies and  local government and form the steering committee or Improve the existing committee (for example BZMC)if management authority think it works and provide additional TOR specific to management of Ramsar Site.

Links with other management actions:

·         The steering committee will be responsible to monitor and implementation of the management plan

Location:

·         The meetings will be held at DNPWC office, Kathmandu and RNP headquarter office, Rara.

Schedule:

·         By the mid of 2021, Rara Lake Ramsar Site Steering Committee is formed with complete TOR and financial plan.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The dedicated site conservation and protection committee is formed that regularly monitor the management plan to ensure the activities are conducted to achieve its management goal.

Budget:

·         NRP 1,00,000 for meeting cost at DNPWC including preparation of TOR and financing plan of the steering committee.

·         NRP 50,000 for the formation of steering committee and inform and discuss TOR and financial plan.

 

Total cost ₌NRP 1,50,000

Activity 3.1.2: Train the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-Stakeholder Management Committee (RRMMC) on the content of the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Management Plan and the Ramsar Convention and organise regular meetings

Management plan objective:Co-management approach strengthened implemented

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         The training will be the responsibility of DNPWC , assisted by RNP at site-level with technical support from IUCN.

·         The participants of the training will be the members of steering committee, task force and the park authorities.

Action description:

·         Experts/ Consultants will be hired with the knowledge on management of Ramsar site including Ramsar Convention.

·         The training modules and schedules will be designed to train the steering committee, task force and park authorities.

·         The steering committee will meet half yearly to review the site management plan implementation and conservation concerns.

Links with other management actions:

This activity will be conducted together with activity 1.1.2.

Location:

The training will be conducted at park headquarter office, Rara.

Schedule:

By 2022, trainings will be conducted.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The committee is well-informed and trained on the implementation of Ramsar site management plan than enables committee to better understand the problems, issues, gaps, analyse it and manage Ramsar Site with strategic approach

·         The steering committee met regularly to review the status of implementation of management plan

·         The meeting serves as a platform to discuss potential solution for existing issues with the co- management approach.

Budget:

·         NRP 5,00,000 for the participants and experts travel, food and accommodation, and necessary training materials.

·         NRP 5,00,000 for the experts fees/ consultancy services.

·         NRP 2,50,000 for the regular meetings.

 

 

Total cost ₌NRP 12,50,000

Activity 3.2.1: Adopt SMART patrolling techniques and regulations

Management plan objective:Long-term enforcement capacity of park authorities strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors

·         DNPWC will be responsible for this activity with support from Nepal Army and conservation partners

Action description:

The SMART tool is a widely adopt best practice to better monitor, evaluate and adaptively manage patrolling techniques. It includes a powerful software application that improves the ability of park authorities to combat the illegal activities with limited resources. It motivates park and army staff in their day-to-day work; empower park managers with timely and accurate information; guide park managers in using the collected information strategically to better plan and manage their patrolling operations and ensure accountability and good governance.

·         Approval from DNPWC to adopt SMART

·         Introduce SMART to the RNP and prepare for SMART implementation that includes, design the data model and collection protocols; configure the SMART database; define responsibilities; monitoring program; develop clear time table for implementation and reporting procedure.

·         Ensure adequate resources to operate patrols, including patrol mission costs.

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity is linked with the activity 1.1.3, the task force including other park staff will be trained on SMART

Location:

·         The SMART database operation will be at the park headquarter.

Schedule:

·         By 2022, DNPWC approve the adoption of SMART

·         By 2023, SMART is introduced with proper trainings to task force and SMART implemented

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The park use SMART to store data, patrol, and identify conservation hotspots.

Budget:

·         NRP 2,00,000 for preparing SMART implementation

Total cost ₌NRP 2,00,000

Activity 3.2.2: Regulate authorization of BZMC for the collection of NTFPs/MAPs

Management plan objective:Long-term enforcement capacity of park authorities strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         RNP in coordination with BZMC and RRMMC will be responsible to conduct this activity

Action description:

·         Workshops and meetings for conservation and management of NTFPS/MAPS, equitable benefit sharing mechanism will be adopted and increased the income of the community

·         Meeting will be conducted as per the park management rules

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity will encourage community participation in conservation of the site and improve governance and benefit sharing mechanism

Location:

·         Meeting will be conducted at park office

Schedule:

·         Quarterly meeting or as per need

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The authorization of collection of NTFPs/MAPS are regulated through regular meetings and monitroing.

Budget:

NRP 8,00,000 for conducting quarterly meeting.

 

Total cost ₌NRP 8,00,000

Activity 3.2.3: Provide training on management of Ramsar site including transparency, rights and benefits sharing to park authorities and communities

Management plan objective:Long-term enforcement capacity of park authorities strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         The training will be the responsibility of DNPWC , assisted by RNP at site-level.

·         All the communities residing around the Ramsar site, park authorities, RRMMC and BZMC will participate the training.

Action description:

·         Experts/ Consultants will be hired with the knowledge on management of Ramsar site including transparency, rights and benefits sharing.

·         The training modules and schedules will be designed to train the communities residing around the site, park authorities, RRMMC and BZMC.

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity will improve the transparency, rights and benefits sharing which strengthen the co-management approach.

Location:

·         The training will be conducted at park headquarter office, Rara.

Schedule:

·         By the end of 2022, training will be provided.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The key stakeholders including communities, park authorities are trained and well-informed on good governance and benefit sharing mechanism

Budget:

·         NRP 5,00,000 for the participants and experts travel, food and accommodation, and necessary training materials.

·         NRP 5,00,000 for the experts fees/ consultancy services.

 

Total cost ₌NRP 10,00,000

Activity 3.2.4: Identify a dedicated officer for wetland/Ramsar management within the Park system

Management plan objective: Long-term enforcement capacity of park authorities strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC will provision to enrol a dedicated officer for Ramsar site management within the park system

·         RNP will identify the dedicated officer among the park staff who will be responsible to function the wetland information centre, and plan and monitor the site task force.

Action description:

·         Meet with secretary of MoFE, DNPWC authorities to agree on provision to enrol a dedicated officer for the Ramsar site management within the park system and identify him/her by the park itself.

·         Circular the provision of identify and enrolling a dedicated officer for wetland management by DNPWC to the site in charge.

·         Identify and appoint a dedicated officer, and communicate and introduce him/her with all concerned authorities including provincial and local government by park in charge.

Links with other management actions:

·         The established Wetland information centre will be function and operated by an appointed dedicated officer. He will closely plan and monitor task force and coordinate and update the steering committee.

·         The dedicated officer will also support in SMART operators

Location:

·         The duty of dedicated officer is at wetland information center established within a park premises.

Schedule:

·         By the end of 2021, DNPWC will provisioned to enrol a dedicated officer and the park will identify and appoint.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The wetland information centre is well functioned and operation by a responsible and dedicated wetland officer.

·         All the activities conducted in the Ramsar site is closely monitored and information updated regularly.

Budget:

·         NRP 20,000 for food during meetings

 

Total cost ₌NRP 20,000

Activity 3.2.5: Develop regulations for mountain protected areas with Ramsar site

Management plan objective: Long-term enforcement capacity of park authorities strengthened

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC will lead the activity in coordination with concerned stakeholders.

Action description:

·         Meet with minister, secretary of MoFE, DNPWC authorities to agree on developing regulations for mountain protected areas with Ramsar site.

·         Formulate a team to draft the regulation

·         Draft regulation in consultation with concerned ministries, departments, conservation organisation and other concerned stakeholders

·         Present and discuss on the draft regulation

·         Finalise the draft regulation and approval

Links with other management actions:

·         The Ramsar regulation will guide the activities conducted inside the Ramsar Site within the mountain protected areas.

Location:

·         Ramsar Site within Mountain Protected areas, Nepal

Schedule:

·         By the end of 2023, Regulation for mountain  protected areas with Ramsar site will be drafted

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The regulation is drafted and requested for approval

Budget:

·         NRP 25,000 for meetings, consultation and  drafting regulations

 

Total cost ₌NRP 25,00,000

Activity 3.3.1: Establish and maintain data management system (e.g. database and GIS) and provide training to park staff, and regulate research permits and activities conducted inside Ramsar Site.

Management plan objective: Long-term knowledge management capacity of park authorities ensured

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC will play a lead role in establishing the database management system

·         Ramsar Management Unit will facilitate to establish the system at the site.

Action description:

·         Workshop/meetings for establishing database management system at DNPWC office.

·         Ramsar Management Unit led by an officer dedicated to wetland management will facilitate to establish data management system at site.

·         Different templates and software will be developed to store data systematically.

·         Ramsar Management Unit will be trained to maintain and operate the system.

·         Wetland Management Officer will be the responsible person to maintain and store day-to-day management of data and prepare report monthly.

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity will support in analysing the situation and helps in planning other activities.

Location:

·         At the park headquarter office.

Schedule:

·         By 2021, data base management system  is established at the park

·         By 2022, templates design and Ramsar management Unit are trained to maintain and store data

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The data management system is established and the Ramsar Management Unit are trained to maintain and store data systematically.

Budget:

·         NRP 2,50,000 for purchasing  necessary equipment for establishing database management system

·         NRP 5,00,000 for designing templates and organising training

 

Total cost ₌NRP 7,50,000

Activity 3.4.1: Develop, validate and implement a funding strategy through consultation with local authorities, communities, private sector and public donors

Management plan objective:Establish innovative and sustainable financing mechanism to ensure reliable source of revenue to promote wetland conservation and local livelihoods

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNWC will be the lead organisation to lead the activity and ensure the funding source is secured by implementing sustainable financing mechanism.

·         The funding for other activities of the site management plan will be supported by development and conservation partners such as DAI USAID Paani Program, IUCN, WWF, NTB, UNDP and provincial and local government

Action description:

·         Meet with development and conservation partners, NTB in coordination win provincial and local government to discuss the site management plan and adopt sustainable financing mechanism.

·         Workshops for developing and implementing funding strategy.

·         Funding strategy prepared and implemented

Links with other management actions:

·         The implementation of this plan and conservation and protection of the site after this plan period depends on the sustainable financing mechanism.

Location:

·         The workshops and meeting will be conducted at central, provincial and local level.

Schedule:

·          

Indicators of Achievement:

·         By 2021, a sustainable financing mechanism is developed and implemented.

 

Budget:

NRP 2,00,000 for meeting and workshop

 

 

Total cost ₌NRP 2,00,000

Outcome 4: Awareness and understanding of the importance of the Ramsar site at international, national and local level enhanced

Activity 4.1.1: Conduct wetlands-related educational programs in communities and schools around the Ramsar site, including a World Wetland Day Celebration at the site

Management plan objective: Awareness raised through the development and implementation of a comprehensive Ramsar CEPA strategy involving local stakeholders, including women and youth

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC will be responsible for organising and coordinating with different concerned authorities such as concerned ministries and departments, universities, conservation partners, NTB, travel agencies and other concerned authorities meeting at central level; and RNP with support from newly established RRMMC& BZMC at local level.

·         RNP with support RRMMC will be responsible to educate at schools and communities.

Action description:

The world wetland Day at the site will be organised after conducting the wetlands-related educational programs in communities and school so that local people can volunteer on the world wetland day and make the day special.

·         Meet with conservation partners, academics, local authorities to plan the action.

·         Organise wetland related educational programs at school and communities.

·         Organise training on wetlands/environment conservation to school teachers and encourage to form Environment Education and Conservation Group (EECG) at each school with its annual activity and monitoring plan.

·         Form committee to organise World Wetland day at national and site level.

·         Celebrate world wetland day.

Links with other management actions:

·         Thetraining to school teachers will be conducted together with the activity 3.1.2 (Train the Rara Lake Ramsar Sterring Committee on Ramsar Convention)

·         The ICT materials will be used as a supporting materials.

 

Location:

·         The wetland related educational programs will be conducted at around the communities and school of Rara Lake Ramsar Site.

·         The world wetland day will be celebrated at the site.

Schedule:

·         BY 2023, form EECG group and conduct wetland related educational programs at communities and school that will be continued.

·         On 2nd February, 2024 world wetland day will be organised.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The local communities and students have increased the knowledge on the wetland related information which help in conservation and protection of significance of the natural and cultural values of the Rara Lake.

·         School teachers are more capable on teaching students on wetland education and students are attracted on wetland conservation through the formation of EECG group and their annual plan.

·         The event recognizes the Rara lake Ramsar site at wider audience and attracts increasing number of visitors.

Budget:

·         NRP 50,000 for meeting with school and communities at site level

·         NRP 5,00,000 for organising trainings to school teachers (includes trainers fee and expenses, and training materials and necessary expenses).

·         NRP 7,00,000 for the wetland related educational programs at school and communities.

·         NRP 2,50,000 for meeting with concerned stakeholders at central and local level to organise world wetland day.

·         NRP 20,00,000 to organise and celebrate world wetland day.

 

Total cost ₌NRP 35,00,000

 

Activity 4.1.2: Promote the Ramsar site through national platforms, media and other regional and international events including the Ramsar COP, IUCN WCC, and CBD COP.

Management plan objective:Awareness raised through the development and implementation of a comprehensive Ramsar CEPA strategy involving local stakeholders, including women and youth

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         Ministry of Forests and Environment, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Rara National Park and IUCN will be responsible to present the information and updates of the site at wider scale.

Action description:

·         Explore and identify the most relevant events to present the site management plan in the upcoming national, and international workshops, conferences and symposiums.

·         Prepare and submit the abstract for acceptance in the identified most relevant events. Some of the relevant events for the abstract submission are Ramsar COP, IUCN World Conservation Congress, CBD COP.

·         Present the significance of Rara Lake Ramsar Site including its ecological, social-economic and cultural values; conservation and management actions plans to a wider group of audiences at various identified national and international platforms.

Links with other management actions

·         The findings of the various assessment including the updates of the site management plan of Rara lake will be presented

Location:

·         The event venues can be national, or international.

Schedule:

·         At least two presentation will be done at international events during the plan period (2021 – 2025), and in various relevant national events as well.

Indicators of Achievement:

·         Information on Rara Lake Ramsar Site (RLRS) and its management are recognized in a wider scale.

·         Knowledge, experience and learnings exchanged on such events will be analysed and good practices will be adopted for the better conservation and management of the site.

Budget:

·         NRP 5,00,000 for presentation at two international events (includes registration fee, transportation and accommodation of the presenters)

·         NRP 50,000 for printing posters and other necessary materials for presentation.

Total cost ₌NRP 5,50,000

Activity 4.1.3: Establish a wetland information centre with displays about the ecology, history and cultural importance of the site and install Ramsar information board throughout the site

Management plan objective:Awareness raised through the development and implementation of a comprehensive Ramsar CEPA strategy involving local stakeholders, including women and youth

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC & RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity with the technical support from IUCN

·         The implementation of this action will be supported by MoFE, conservation partners, and local authorities.

Action description:

·         Identify and prioritize the specific locations for installing signboards including Ramsar information.

·         Meet with stakeholders and different conservation partners to introduce the action; present the information, design and layout; and validate the content, edit/revise.

·         Install the information board with the community involvement and assistance.

Links with other management actions:

·         The findings and updates of the management plans, promotional video, and ICT productswill be displayed in information center.

·         This activity will be implemented in tallying with the Rara National Park Management Plan.

Location:

·         A wetland information centre will be established at RNP headquarter premises.

·         Information board will be installed at different entry points and trekking trails

Schedule:

·         By the end of 2021, survey, identification and prioritization of the locations; meeting with the stakeholder to validate, revised the content; and resources generation and other necessary office process will be done.

·         By the end of 2022, the site information will be well displayed via information board and center

Indicators of Achievement:

·         By 2022, at least 10 – 15 information board including the boundary of the Ramsar site at different entry points of the Ramsar site and trekking trails. English and Nepali language are used in the information board targeting the local, domestic and international visitors.

·         By 2022, a well functional wetland information centre established with a dedicated wetland officer.

·         Installation of information board and wetland information centre make communities and visitors well informed about the boundary and significance of RLRS

Budget:

·         NRP 1,00,000 for survey and meetings

·         NRP 1,00,000 for developing content, edit and revise.

·         NRP 10,00,000 for production and installation of information board.

·         NRP 20,00,000 for establishing well-furnished wetland information center

 

Total cost₌NRP 32,00,000

Activity 4.1.4: Develop and distribute ICT materials

Management plan objective:Awareness raised through the development and implementation of a comprehensive Ramsar CEPA strategy involving local stakeholders, including women and youth

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC & RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity with the technical support from IUCN in designing the content

·         The implementation of this action will be supported by MoFE, conservation partners, and local authorities.

Action description:

·         The information and communication material such as posters, information sheet, flyers, etc will be published

·         The content of those materials will be taken from the results and findings of the research and monitoring.

·         The material develop will be distributed at the site level and digital copy will be shared at wider audience through different communication media.

 

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity will be supported by the information generated from the output 1.1

·         The develop ICT materials will be used as a tool for different awareness and wetland related education programs

Location:

·         Distributed at site and digital copy to wider audience nationally and internationally

Schedule:

·         By 2022, after getting the results and findings of output 1.1

Indicators of Achievement:

·         The site information has spread at wider audience

Budget:

·         NRP 2,00,000 for developing content and designing

·         NRP 10,00,000 for publication and distribution

 

Total cost ₌NRP 12,00,000

Activity 4.1.4: Develop and implement Rara Lake Ramsar Site Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) Plan.

Management plan objective:Awareness raised through the development and implementation of a comprehensive Ramsar CEPA strategy involving local stakeholders, including women and youth

Stakeholders and key actors:

·         DNPWC & RNP will be responsible to conduct this activity with the technical support from IUCN

·         The implementation of this action will be supported by MoFE, conservation partners, and local authorities.

Action description:

·         Rara Lake Ramsar Site CEPA plan will be prepared in consultation with different stakeholders

Links with other management actions:

·         This activity will be supported by the information generated from the output 1.1

·         The develop ICT materials will be used as a tool for different awareness and wetland related education programs

Location:

·         Rara Lake Ramsar Site.

Schedule:

·         By 2022, CEPA plan is prepared

Indicators of Achievement:

·         TheCEPA plan is prepared and is being implemented.

Budget:

·         NRP 15,00,000 for developing and implementing CEPA plan

 

Total cost ₌NRP 15,00,000

1.1         Implementation Mechanism

1.1.1       Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-Stakeholder Management Committee

 Dedicated, site-specific, cross-sectoral human resources are required to improve and maintain ecological integrity of the site. The plan recommends the development of a Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-Stakeholder Management Committee, responsible for overseeing the governance of the Ramsar site. The management committee was developed based on consultations with government actors, community leaders, lake managers, local government bodies and conservation partners during the plan development process.The committee will help ensure that the decision-making processes and future development of Rara Lake Ramsar Site maintains its ecological values. To achieve this, the capacity of the existing park and protection unit staff needs to be enhanced with a focus on Ramsar site management.

The Management Committee will be commissioned by the Ramsar Administrative Authority, DNPWC. This committee will be formed under the leadership of the chief warden of Rara National Park, with representation from the Buffer Zone Management Committee, user groups, line agencies, civil society organizations and private and public sector institutions. The committee will meet every six months at the park office to plan and monitor programs related to the sustainable use and conservation of Rara Lake, and the implementation of the Management Plan. The LakeManagement Committee is also expected to provide guidance and suggestions to stakeholders.

The committee is comprised of 17 members with representation from all stakeholders. 

Members in the Committee

  • Chief Warden – Chairperson
  • Assistant Conservation Officer (Wetland Management Officer - National Parks, Ramsar Unit)- General Secretary

Representative Members

  • Local Government – 4 (one member from each palika, Chhayanath Rara Municipility, Khatyad and Soru Rural Municipality of Mugu and Kanakasundari Rural Municipality of Jumla District)
  • Nepal Army - 1
  • BZUC – 2( Male and female)
  • Community forest users group- 1
  • Mothers Group -1
  • Hotels – 1
  • Home stay-1
  • Private sector/ tourism -1
  • Civil society - 2 (Indigenous group and female representative)
  • CBAPU - 1

Since the Rara National Park and its Buffer Zone Management Plan  (2076/77 – 2080/81) (2019- 2024) implemented by the DNPWC and BZMC  has already been developed, the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Management Plan should be used in conjunction with the National Park Management Plan.

The newly established Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-stakeholder Management Committee will be trained by wetland experts. The management committeewill be responsible for decision-making and coordinating specific aspects of implementation within the themes of the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Management Plan, including:

  • Communicating the importance of the Ramsar Site to the community and visitors
  • Liaising with the Ramsar Secretariat
  • Supporting the proposal of the expanded Ramsar Sitearound the watershed
  • Maintaining equipment used for assessments and data collection
  • Updating a digital library and database management system
  • Coordinating the implementation of the action plan with National Park authority, Buffer Zone Management Committee, Army protection units, task force and other required parties, including
    • Determining baseline targets
  • Data collection, data input into digital library and database management system, analysis and communication of findings and proposed management response when required
    • Water quality monitoring
    • Inventory of flora and fauna
    • Detailed research on aquatic species
  • Coordinated monitoring and evaluation of implementation progress, including periodic reporting on action/work plan progress

 

1.1.2       Ramsar Site Management Unit

The park authority will develop a Ramsar site management unit amongst their staff in the park, with one officer dedicated to wetland management, and responsible for coordinating, planning, monitoring, implementing and reporting on the Management Plan. They will also provide guidelines and suggestions on the sustainable management of the lake, and work to address problems and challenges encountered.

 

1.1.3       Chayanath Rara Municipality

The municipality will secure some funding for the implementation of Rara Lake Ramsar Site Management Plan. The municipality will include the planned activities related to infrastructure development and diversifying community livelihoods in its annual work plan in coordination with Rara Lake Ramsar Management Committee.

1.1.4       Karnali Province Government

The provincial government will secure funding to promote the tourism industry at the site.

1.1.5       Community institutions

There are very few groups involved in conservation and management of wetland resources. However, there are community forest users group, water users group, horse riding management committee who are working for the conservation and management of water resources that can be engaged in the activities of the management plan.

The table below presents the roles and responsibilities of the key institutions for the implementation of the plan

Table 3 Roles and responsibilities for management plan implementation

Institution

Role and responsibility

Ministry of Forest and Environment

Policy support, creating enabling environment for Rara Lake management and wise use,financing 

Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment, Karnali province

Policy support for program implementation, coordination, monitoring and financing

Department of National Parks and wildlife Conservation

Supporting program implementation, coordination and monitoring as a Ramsar focal point, creating an enabling environment for financing

Rara National Park

Conservation program planning, Implementation, coordination, joint monitoring, documentation and reporting

Buffer zone Management Committee and Users Groups

Implementation

Division Forest Office

Coordination, program partnership, planning

Rural/Municipalities

Policy support, program partnership, coordination, Resource leverage Planning

Nepal Tourism Board

Coordination, program partnership, planning

Conservation and Development partner

Technical and financial support, technology transfer, human resource development, research and development, coordination and planning

Private  and tourism Sectors

Enterprise development, investment

5.4 Monitoring and Evaluation

5.4.1 Monitoring:

Throughout the site management plan’s five-year period, the action plan will be adjusted to ensure that it is always relevant, appropriate and based on implementation learnings. The Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-stakeholder Management Committee will be guided and trained to use principles of the Adaptive Management framework; a process that acknowledges the uncertainties of a dynamic ecosystem, with influences such as climate change and tourism, and therefore progressively improves management. This approach will allow for systematic improvements to be made based on monitoring and learning.

Annual monitoring of planned activities will be conducted by DNPWC, together with the Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-stakeholder Management Committee. Findings from monitoring will be documented and problems identified during implementation will be solved through discussion with those involved. The Wetland Management Officer will play a lead role in leading the reporting, and the final report will be submitted to theEnvironment and Biodiversity Division, the Secretariat of National Wetland Committee, the Ministry of Forest and Environment and DNPWC annually. The indicators listed in thelogical framework will be used throughout the monitoring process. An impact assessment will be conducted in 4th year based on the log frame.

5.4.2 Evaluation

An independent contractor will be hired to conduct an interim evaluation in the 3rd year of the plan, and at the end of the five years. The evaluation will review therelevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of the management activities. The DNPWC will consider the findings and recommendations of the evaluation and propose any adjustments to the action plan for the remaining duration of the project. The National Park authorities will prepare the terms of reference for hiring the evaluator for the interim and final evaluations in consultation with Rara Lake Ramsar SiteMulti-stakeholder Management Committee and other key stakeholders. The evaluations will use the indicators identified in the log frame. The Rara Lake Ramsar Site Multi-stakeholder Management Committee will develop a management response to the findings and recommendations of the interim evaluation for adaptive management and implementation of the plan, and present them to DNPWC for approval and endorsement.

Participatory approaches will be adopted for monitoring and evaluation,as it is important to ensure representation of diverse perspectives in the review as well as to build local capacity for monitoring and evaluation among stakeholders.

5.5 Sustainable Financing

Funding will be managed through the DNPWC annual budget from central government. The province and local governments will also work to secure financial resources for implementation. Different stakeholders including development/conservation partners, the private sector, provincial and local government will work together for technical and financial support, to make the management plan sustainable.  Planning workshops will be conducted for stakeholders to orient and inform them about the management plan in order to get further financial and technical support. The planning workshop will be conducted at the start of new fiscal year so that they are able to integrate the activities related to wetland management in their regular annual plans. DNPWC and RNP, in collaboration with conservation partners will develop proposalsfor international funding. DNPWC will collaborate with universities to further research at the site level.

The following key stakeholders will provide financial and technical support:

  • Federal government
  • Karnali Province Government
  • Chayanath Rara Municipality
  • Rara National Park
  • FNCCI/ District chapter
  • Buffer Zone Management Committee
  • Funding from project and donor agencies
  • Nepal Tourism Board
  • Local NGOs, Clubs, School
  • Private sectors
  • Security (Nepal Army)

References

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Adhikari, J., 2008. Food crisis in Karnali: A historical and politico-economic perspective. Chautari book series – 46, Martin Chautari, Thapathali, Kathmandu.

Aryal, C., Niroula, N. and Ghimire, B., 2019. Perspectives of Nepalese Youth on Ecotourism Practiced at Rara National Park, Western Nepal. Journal of Tourism & Adventure, 2(1), pp.17-39.

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Jüttner, I., Kociolek, J.P., Gurung, S., Gurung, A., Sharma, C.M., Levkov, Z., Williams, D.M. and Ector, L., 2018. The genus Gomphonema (Bacillariophyta) in Rara Lake, Nepal: taxonomy, morphology, habitat distribution and description of five new species, and a new record for Gomphoneis qii. Diatom Research, 33(3), pp.283-320.

Kingsford, R.T. and Biggs, H.C., 2012. Strategic adaptive management guidelines for effective conservation of freshwater ecosystems in and around protected areas of the world. IUCN WCPA Freshwater Taskforce, Australian Wetlands and Rivers Centre, Sydney.

Lamsal, P., Kumar, L. and Atreya, K., 2017. Historical evidence of climatic variability and changes, and its effect on high-altitude regions: insights from Rara and Langtang, Nepal. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 24(6), pp.471-484.

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Annex 1: Assessment of Ecological Charcter

The assessment[1] of the overall current state and trend of Ramsar Site ecological character is based on Key Informants Interview (KII), Focus Group Discussion (FGD), direct observation and literature, which showed that there is inadequate data.

PART A: RAMSAR CRITERIA – reflects the criteria used for site designation

Assessment

Trend

Values

Justification of assessment

G

LC

HC

C

DD

I

S

D

DD

Largest Lake in high altitude

see criteria 1 above

                 

Supports number of rare and vulnerable fauna and flora species

Criteria 2

                 

Natural habitats for endemic species of plants and one frog species

Criteria 3

                 

Supports winter migratory birds

Criteria 4.

                 

Supports endemic fish species

Criteria 7

                 

Important source of food for endemic fishes and migratory waterfowls

Criteria 8

                 

PART B - OTHER IMPORTANT FEATURES – from the Ecological Character Description or other knowledge of site managers.

Hydrological values

                   

Plant Diversity

                   

 

[1]The current state of values is assessed against five ratings: Good (G), Low Concern (LC), High Concern (HC), Critical (C) and Data Deficient (DD). The baseline for the assessment should be the condition at the time of designation, with reference to the best-recorded historical conservation state. Trend is assessed in relation to whether the condition of a value is Improving (I), Stable (S), Deteriorating (D) or Data Deficient (DD), and is intended to be a snapshot of recent developments over the last three years.

Social and Cultural Values

                   

Assessment of the overall current state and trend of Ramsar Site ecological character:

Key Informant Survey, Focus Group Discussion, Field Visit, Literature

                 

 

Annex 2: SWOT Analysis

Strengths

Weaknesses

●        Largest lake at high altitude

●        Supports rare and vulnerable fauna and flora species

●        Natural habitats for endemic species of plants and one frog species

●        Supports winter migratory birds

●        Supports endemic fish species

●        Important sources of food for endemic fishes and migratory waterfowl

●        Legal Status

●        Law Enforcement

●        Protection System

●        Local Communities support

●        Unclear physical boundary for Ramsar site

●        Conflict of interest among stakeholders

●        No site-specific management plan

●        limited research

●        poor visitor's facilities

●        Inadequate Ramsar site-specific training to National Park and protection unit staffs

Opportunities

Threats

●        Policy and legislations support for the Ramsar site conservation

●        Coordination and support of local users/community

●        Involve user in the management process

●        Balancing of ecosystem services

●        Benefit sharing from the use of Ramsar site

●        Tourism diversification

●        Communication mechanism for effective communication

●        Promotion of cultural village/homestays for livelihood enhancement

●        Hub for highland endemic biodiversity

●        Cultural connection enhancement for Ramsar site protection and conservation

●        Lack of coordination among stakeholders

●        Demand for infrastructure development such as hotels, resorts.

●        Loss of environmental values and services

●        Tourism and recreation infrastructure

●        Open  grazing and potential disease outbreak

●        Recreational and tourism activities

●        Edge effect

●        Drought Conditions

●        Pathogens

●        Garbage and solid waste

●        Temperature extremes

●        Loss of cultural links, traditional knowledge

●        Loss of keystone species

●        Natural deterioration of important cultural site values

●        Destruction of cultural heritage buildings, sites

●        Park Infrastructure

●        Mining and quarrying

●        Developmental activities

●        Utility and service lines

●        Flight paths

●        Hunting and poaching of animals as a result of HWC

●        Unsustainable harvesting of resources

●        Habitat clearing

●        Fire and fire suppression

●        Dams and hydrological modifications

●        Invasive alien plants

●        Sewage and waste material

●        Avalanches/landslides

●        Erosion and siltation

●        Habitat shifting and alteration

●        Storms and flooding

Annex 3:Threat Assessment

Findings from Data Sheet 3: Ramsar Site Threats (Medium and Low Risk)

NOTE: the below threats are ranked after participatory consultation and consensus. Ranking is based on people's perception, available literature and expert observation. The threats to the Rara Lake Ramsar Site are ranked below as per the level of significance:

Medium Threats - which have some negative impacts

  1. Loss of keystone species - A decrease in the number of fish (Shrestha, 2017) and other wildlife is observed, however, detailed study has not been carried out yet. The lake hosts 3 endemic fish species namely Schizothorax rarensis, Schizothorax nepalensis, Schizothoraichthys macrophthalmus (Terashima, 1984; Shrestha, 2017), In the past, the locals used to catch approximately 10 kg of fish per day from the confluence area of the lake and the feeding streams. The red panda preferred area without grazing activity, and It is noted that red panda occurrence was affected by livestock grazing in Rara National Park(Thapa, et al., 2020; Sharma, et al., 2015 )
  2. Natural deterioration of important cultural site values - Diminishing value due to the lack of timely maintenance, limited resources, and lack of promotion (including that of the local Mugali culture).
  3. Destruction of cultural heritage buildings, sites - Communities are focused on income generation activities and active participation of the community in maintaining and renovating cultural sites is seen to have decreased compared to in the past. However, park and BZ has some program such as renovate/ maintain cultural sites, organise cultural programmes for promotion and conservation of cultural heritage  RNP’s (2019) product and activity diversification activities that are to be carried out in Rara NP to diversity tourism products and activities includes: ‘protect, upgrade and promote religious temples and caves located in and around Rara Lake’ with an annual budget allowance for the ‘Maintenance of temples and other religious sites’ (RNP 2019 pg 116).

Low Threats - which are present but not seriously impacting values

  • Park infrastructure - Water pollution from park infrastructure (see figure 4), such as sewage contamination, exists despite its proper planning and management.
  • Mining and quarrying[1] - The increase in infrastructure and development works that demand stone (USAID, 2019) may have a direct impact on the buffer zone and park (RNP, 2019). The major resources used for the construction of roads, building and other purposes are sand, gravel and stone, which play a vital role in the socio-economic and infrastructure development of the Park and communities. The most potential area for these resources are ward no – 3, Nigale and ward no – 6, Balai of Chhayanath Rara Municipality. However, the excavation activities are prohibited in the areas where it coult affect habitat, breeding and mobility of the animals. In other areas, buffer zone communities are allowed for regulated excavation (RNP, 2019)

[1] Data about the extraction and mining location will be provided after second field visit, if available.

  • Road development - Increasing vehicle flow and the unmanaged driving route up to nearby Milichaur is causing threats and disturbance to wildlife and grassland habitat. Army post at Millichaur recorded upto 25 -30 four-wheelers and 25-30 motorbike per day during the tourist season (September - November) in the recent years, before there were no road facilities.
  • Utility and service lines - No type of physical facilities such as electricity cables and telephone lines are currently available, however, extension of electricity power lines from Gamgadhi to Rara is in process and may have an impact in the near future.
  • Flight paths - There are scheduled flights from Nepalgunj airport that cross the Ramsar site and occasional rescue helicopters cause noise pollution that may impact wildlife.
  • Hunting, killing and collecting terrestrial animals, including that resulting from human-wildlife conflict (HWC) - The main cause for HWC is crop depredation by wild animals,  and occasional wildlife attacks. RNP (2019) is adopting a strategy to promote  human-wildlife coexistence through a BZ program and a relief scheme that is regulated under a quick response mechanism to ensure timely treatment and financial assistance. RNP also acknowledges that long-term solutions are still required to reduce HWC.
  • Gathering terrestrial plants or plant products (non-timber) - Detailed study on NTFPs has not been conducted yet, however, illegal harvesting of NTFPs including Guchhi Chyau (mushroom) and other flora has been observed to be increasing.
  • Logging and wood harvesting - The infrastructure within the site such as hotels, parks and Army camp are using the forest resources. The use of the forest resources is regulated by Park, however, it might have some impact
  • Fishing, killing and harvesting aquatic resources - Illegal fishing activities have been largely controlled due to effective and regular patrolling from park authorities, however, some still occur.
  • Activities of site managers - Occasionally management activities such as fire line construction, maintaining trails, construction of visitor facilities such as viewing towers, resting places, vehicle roads and grassland management involves tree cutting for site clearance, which may alter the ecosystem function.
  • Deliberate vandalism, destructive activities or threats to the protected area, staff and visitors - Infrequent confrontation between park and people regarding resource use and HWC does occur (crop depredation by wildlife in nearby villages is becoming a problem for maintaining harmonious relationships with wildlife and people).
  • Habitat clearing - Deforestation has been reported frequently from nearby settlements, which is triggered by stone mining and most villagers are dependent on it.
  • Fire and fire suppression (including arson) - Occasional forest fires occur but it is infrequent and occurs mostly in the hot summer season, however, there is no systematic data collection regarding the fire incidents. The catchment of Rara Lake is mostly covered by Pine forest, which is a fire prone species.
  • Dams, hydrological modification and water management/use - Climate change induced hazards like landslides (MOFE, 2019), sedimentation, and shifts in lake temperature might be impacting fish and other macroinvertebrates. No study has been carried out, however, there is recent evidence of fish death at noticeable quantities, with unidentified reason.
  • Invasive non-native/ alien plants - No new species have been reported at this point.
  • Sewage and wastewater from Ramsar Site facilities - There are only two hotels inside the Site area and they are using septic tanks. However, proper treatment facilities for sewage and wastewater do not exist. This could pose a major challenge with the increasing number of visitors.
  • Earthquakes - Water seepage or lake outburst as a result of an earthquake is a possibility if the epicenter is in close proximity to the lake. Locals believe the villages nearby the lake are vulnerable to future unpredictable hazards, however, there is no any scientific evidence of this risk.
  • Avalanches/Landslides - At present avalanches/ landslides are not anticipated, however, there is a possibility of climate change and human induced landslides in the catchment area of the lake and its surroundings (MOFE, 2019).
  • Erosion and siltation deposition - Some erosion and siltation was observed[2] by the study team, possibly due to the effects of weathering and overgrazing, however, detailed study has not been carried out yet.
  • Storms and flooding - The Ramsar Site is less affected by storms. Flood occurs downstream of the Rara Khatyad watershed.

[1]There are no bathymetric maps across different time periods that could inform the rate of siltation and lake succession, thus, detailed study needs to be carried out.

 

Annex 4: Water quality parameters measured during the field visit

S. No.

Temp

(0C)

pH

(-)

ORP

(mV)

DO

(ppm)

EC

(µS/cm)

TDS

(mg/L)

Sal

PSU

Turb

FNU

GPS Coordinates

Latitude (N) Longitude (E)

Sampling sites

1

14.52

7.89

95.4

5.62

222

111

0.11

0.3

29°31'52.34"

82° 4'7.29"

In-between Hotel Daphe and bridge

2

14.53

7.88

95.8

5.63

222

111

0.11

0.3

29°32'14.4"

82° 4'34.41"

In front of Daphe hotel

3

14.31

7.92

76.4

6.15

209

104

0.1

3.5

29°32'20.28"

82° 4'48.39"

Near Machan (Boat)

4

14.46

7.37

115.9

6.93

218

109

0.1

0.4

29°32'18.75"

82° 4'49.38"

Data collected in the lake transect

5

14.37

7.5

106.3

6.04

214

107

0.11

16.7

29°32'6.54"

82° 4'56.27"

,,

6

14.57

7.4

113.3

5.87

220

110

0.11

0.3

29°32'2.90"

82° 4'59.21"

,,

7

14.54

7.54

108.5

5.78

220

110

0.11

0.3

29°31'56.08"

82° 5'2.51"

,,

8

14.55

7.57

107.5

6.78

221

110

0.11

0.3

29°31'49.61"

82° 5'4.35"

,,

9

14.53

7.74

100.7

5.71

221

110

0.11

0.3

29°31'41.1"

82° 5'9.98"

,,

10

14.50

7.66

102.4

5.65

221

111

0.11

0.3

29°31'30.16"

82° 5'11.97"

,,

11

14.48

7.73

100.8

5.60

221

111

0.11

0.3

29°31'20.51"

82° 5'9.03"

,,

12

16.18

7.82

47.8

6.83

220

110

01

1.9

29°31'13.06"

82° 5'8.00"

,,

13

16.23

7.92

48.9

6.82

220

110

0.1

0.6

29°32'37.5"

82°5'53.8"

On the way to Thakur Nath temple

14

17.31

7.71

79.9

5.73

218

109

0.1

1.1

29°32'36.5"

82°6'12.4"

,,

15

15.93

7.65

67.3

5.80

219

109

0.1

10.1

29°31'57.1"

82° 7'22.3"

,,

16

14.93

7.52

79.5

6.51

280

140

0.13

1.0

29°31’49.1"

82° 6'47.3"

Near wooden Bridge (Inlet 2)

17

14.54

7.2

54.2

6.40

201

101

0.1

3.1

29°31’01.3"

82°05’24.0"

Small Milli (Inlet 1) middle

18

14.36

7.33

75.3

6.52

210

105

0.1

17.1

29°30’43.7"

82°05’19.1"

Small Milli (Inlet 1) upstream

19

14.12

7.28

82.4

6.64

224

112

0.11

1.1

29°31’45.8"

82°33’6.3"

Mazghat (Outlet) down stream

20

14.87

7.7

72.8

6.77

228

118

0.1

0.3

29°31’47.8"

82°04’02.3"

Nijjar pool (main outlet) upstream

21

14.65

7.27

22.6

6.08

151

302

0.14

6.1

29°32’25.3"

82°04’54.7"

In front of army camp inlet

 

Karnali Province, Hutu, Mugu
info@raranationalpark.gov.np

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