Ghodaghodi Lake Area is one of the nine Ramsar sites of Nepal, which was designated a Ramsar site on 13 August, 2003. It is a freshwater oxbow lake and also the largest natural lowland lake of Nepal. It lies in Kailali district of far-western region. Ghodaghodi Lake Area includes 19 associated lakes & ponds and covers an area of 2563 hectares and is located at 205 meters above sea level. It lies in a very strategic location between Bardiya NP and Suklaphanta WR and alongside of the east- west highway.
It has globally significant biodiversity value as it supports 11 globally threatened (IUCN Red list) faunal species. It also includes endangered species of Orchid, religiously important and threatened species of Lotus and rare wild rice. Lacustrine ecosystem, important wildlife corridor between the Terai and Siwalik Hills. Around 140 species of birds (migratory & resident) representing 16% of the national avifauna, 1% Asian population of Asian Cotton Pygmy goose, 9 species of herpeto- fauna including 3 species of Turtles, Around 29 species of fish, Over 450 species of plants. Native aquatic plant like; Water primrose and Bladderwort with unique physiological adaptation are found in this lake. The area is surrounded by tropical deciduous forest with dominant Sal and Saj (DNPWC, & Baseline Survey of CSUWN 2009).
Ghodadhodi Lake area is spread over 3 VDCs of Kailali district namely; Darakh, Ramshikharjhala, & Sandepani. It covers around a total population of 57,064 from 8,249 Households. Tharu is the main ethnic community of this area. The adjoining communities depend on the lake for traditional fishing and agriculture; it serves irrigation for about 500ha of rice fields. Besides, lake area is used for buffalo wallowing, washing and bathing for human, mud collection for mud-mortar, grazing for livestock, forest product collection: leaf litter, green leaves, wild fruit, green vegetables, grass, fodder, firewood, timber etc, wetlands product collection: water chesnut, lotus leaves and rhizome, snails and others.
The Lake is an important religious shrine for Hindus dedicated to Ghodaghodi deity. There are several legends related to the origin of Ghodaghodi Lake, Tharu people call it Ghodighoda Taal, the divine form of Lord Laxmi and Vishnu. Every year, large religious gathering occurs during the occasion of Agan Panchami and Maghi. Tharu celebrates these festivals by worshipping and offering pigs & other animals in the Ghodaghodi temple. People also come to the temple to perform marriage and other functions. Besides, these days the temple area provides shelter for a number of hermits. In this scenario the lake has its own issues and challenges in conservation as per the objective. 1. Encroachment2. Siltation around the sub-catchment area of Ghodaghodi Lake 3 Excessive invasive sp , and vegetational succession. 4. Water diversion & excessive use of water of lake for different purpose 5. Reduced inflows into the lake: especially in Nakhrodhi Lake. 6) Eutrophication, succession and AIS 7. Over harvesting of resources etc.
Conservation Trails, Trends and policies
Since the accession to the Ramsar Convention in 1987, Nepal has made the following achievements in wetland conservation:
• Designation of nine Ramsar sites representing the major ecological zones
• Development of a participatory methodology for inventory
• Preparation of national lakes inventory and strategic planning
• Preparation of participatory site management plans
• Pilot project on collaborative management
• Integration of wetlands into national biodiversity strategy and development plan
• Networking of national and international organizations for wetlands
• Capacity building at both national and local levels
• Public awareness campaigns on wetlands
• Mainstreaming of wetlands into production sectors
• National Wetland Committee Formation
In addition, wetlands are important, and sometimes essential, for the health, welfare and safety of people who live in or near them. They are amongst the world’s most productive environments and provide a wide array of benefits.
Some institutions are working for the conservation of wetlands in GLC: 1) Terai Arc Landscape (TAL): is supporting in livelihood and conservation of community forest 2)GACAF (Ghodaghodi Area Conservation & Awareness Forum) & other CBOs: is working on Community Forests management and livelihood of the local communities and it is also contributing some efforts for GLC conservation by raising awareness to local communities & controlling wildlife poaching through community based anti-poaching unit with the active involvement of local youth 3) Conservation and Sustainable Use of Wetlands in Nepal(CSUWN) has launch various sustainable management program in GLC.
Water Mangement, Ghodaghodi Lake (December 2009) (Photo: CSUWN)
National Wetland Policy Nepal
Nepal has shown its commitment to wetlands conservation, specially the conservation of waterfowl habitats of international importance, by signing the Ramsar Convention. The present wetlands policy is in conformity with the § 3 (1) of the Convention. The policy is also in conformity with the directives of the signatory nations passed by the contracting parties in 1996, regarding the mobilization of local communities. The primary goal of the National Wetlands Policy is to conserve and manage wetlands resources wisely and in a sustainable way with local people’s participation.
The number of protected area increased rapidly world wide beginning in the early 1960’s. The total coverage of protected areas has more than double over the last decade to approximately 12.65% of earth land surface. There are mainly seven categories of protected area according to the IUCN 1994. Similarly protec1ed areas of all categories levels can also be classified as biosphere reserves, Ramsar wetland and old heritages sites. “The conservation and wise used of all wetland through local, regional and national action and international cooperation , as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.” This is the convention mission of Ramsar site.
There are some critiques existing regarding the protected areas; strict protection versus multiple use. The role of strictly protected versus multiple use areas in meeting biodiversity conservation goal has been hotly debated. On the one hand, strictly protected areas that exclude hunting and other extractive uses are likely to be most efficient at meeting biodiversity conservation goals. Other side, exclusionary tactics may alienate people who benefit from extractive use of these resources, thus making multiple- use designations more amenable to achieving broad conservation goals. In the world there are 34036 protected areas and 3,569,820 km2 falls on the non category levels of the IUCN.
Management effectiveness of the protected areas means threats to protected areas must be eliminated if the protected areas are to meet their objectives and contribute to biodiversity conservation. For achieving this objective, all related people who are directly related with the protected areas should be honest and fully aware about the importance of the areas. Similarly nation’s sociopolitical aspects should not interfere the protection principles. But in reality we found various illegal hunting, poaching, encroachment, forest cutting, thus we found various critiques on effective management.
Another aspect of the critiques on approaches to planning reserve systems. When protected area is going to be establish at that time conservationist should remember its biodiversity significance. In the context of Nepal, many protected area’s history was connected with the governors’ people of the nation. There was no scientific study conducted before establishing the protected areas. Nearly 20% area is covered by protected areas in Nepal. This data is good but in the sense of the geographic representation we found unbalanced distribution of the protected areas in Terai, Mountain and Hilly region of Nepal. We are also facing the socio political influences on the conservation areas. There is still gap between policy and implementation process. We have no alternatives to the livelihood of indijenious people who are totally depended to the resources of the wetland.
Distribution of Wetlands
Wetlands occur everywhere, from the tundra to the tropics, and the plains to the plateaus. Depending upon the definitions and methods of delineations, areas and distributions of wetlands vary considerably (Table 1). With the advancement in wetland studies, areas have been estimated more and more accurately.
SN Source Areas (Million Hectares) Remarks
1 World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) 570 Approximately 6% of the Earth’s land surface – of which
2% are lakes, 30% bogs, 26% fens, 20% swamps, and
2 1999 estimates of Ramsar COP7 (Seventh Conference
of the Contracting Parties) 748 to 778 The minimum could also be increased to a total of
between 999 and 4,462 million hectares when other
sources of information were taken into account
3 The 2004 Global Lakes and Wetlands Database 917 Generated through the use and incorporation of data
derived from proprietary products of the Environmental
Systems Research Institute, WCMC, and others.
4 The 1999 Global Review of Wetland Resources and
Priorities for Wetland Inventory 1,280 Estimated wetlands extent from national inventories
Sources: Ramsar, 2009; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005; Lehner, B. and Döll, P. (2004)
According to the reports of the National Lakes Conservation Development Committee, of the 5,358 lakes found in Nepal, 2,712 lakes (51%) are distributed below 500m, and 2,227 (42%) above 3,000 m. Only 419 lakes (<8%)>
Biodiversity conservation through protected areas is one approach of the sustainability of the specific biodiversity. Ghodaghodi Lake has also one specific biodiversity related to wetland biodiversity so it is listed on Ramsar site and started to conserve it according to the Ramsar site guidance. But, this wetland has also faced the several issues i.e. encroachment, over use of resources, conversion, pollution etc. For the solution of those issues one organization namely conservation and sustainable use of wetlands in Nepal (CSUWN.) has working Participatory management approach is going to be implemented by 2011 according to the national project manager of the CSUWN.
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- Sagarmatha National Park
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- Beeshazar Tal
- Ghodadhodi Lake
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