Addressing the Challenges Of Landscape Conservation and Restoration in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan Region with Attention to Transboundary Issues
Physical and biological changes within a landscape can disrupt ecosystems and threaten the livelihoods of people living there, and possibly beyond the particular landscape. The landscapes in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan (HKH) region are particularly vulnerable to changes because of the region's complex and vulnerable ecosystems and because many people are dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. In principle, many people think that an ecosystem, which is a main component of a landscape, should be maintained and conserved because of its value and necessity for lives. But even though people generally think that ecosystems within a landscape should be protected and preserved because of their intrinsic biological value and their sustaining people's livelihoods, in practice these ecosystems are often allowed to become degraded, or are actively degraded through people's activities. There are often socio-economic trade-offs involved in ecological conservation, and socio-economic benefits which can improve personal and social welfare have kept people from accepting costs and limitations that would sustain ecosystem benefits. Politics can play a role in managing and balancing the trade-offs in the public sphere. Political decisions can give priority to ecosystem conservation and to protecting landscapes from exploration for economic purposes, yet this does not always happen. This is because those decisions are mainly determined by a limited number of persons in positions of authority, or in positions to influence those in authority roles. Those persons in authority roles often have difficulty to weigh properly ecosystem conservation and restoration with a long-term perspective, as they function in the real world. For example, those persons in positions of authority may pay most attention to the immediate needs and opinions of their constituents, or even just a few of their constituents who are influential. They may by their decisions or inaction undermine the needs and interests of many people who are not their constituents but whose lives are affected by natural resource management decisions, both governmental and individual, within their jurisdiction. These non-constituents (1) can be living on the natural resources ii associated within that jurisdiction, or (2) they can be the future generations living within that jurisdiction. This issue of non-constituents being affected adversely by decisions governing natural resource use is further complicated when the one landscape reaches across national borders. Transboundary landscape conservation and restoration should be considered at a super-national level since composition and functions of landscapes, particularly complex interactions among ecological elements, are not physically or biologically separable from national boundaries and are not coterminous with these. Transboundary issues commonly make it difficult to coordinate transboundary cooperation. This paper discusses how the ecological, socio-economic and political domains interact with each other, and how transboundary issues make landscape conservation and restoration more complex and more difficult to implement. It does so by analyzing elements in each domain and tracing linkages among these domains. Further, this study examines the case of the Koshi River Basin which crosses the borders of China, Nepal, and India by analyzing the three domains and transboundary issues.
dissertation or thesis