Regional training of trainers: promoting innovative livelihoods (ecotourism and value chains) for sustainable landscape management 18–25 September 2016

Regional training of trainers: promoting innovative livelihoods (ecotourism and value chains) for sustainable landscape management 18–25 September 2016

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre. It serves eight regional member countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan – in the Hindu Kush Himalaya. ICIMOD helps mountain people understand changes and processes of change, adapt to change, and tap into opportunities while addressing upstream-downstream issues. The organization facilitates exchanges of experience, and is a regional knowledge hub for transboundary programmes implemented through partnerships with respective local institutions.Through one of its current regional programmes on transboundary landscapes, ICIMOD and its partners have identified six landscapes – Hidu Kush Karakoram-Pamir, Kailash, Everest, Kangchenjunga, Far-Eastern Himalayan, and Cherrapunjee-Chittagong, from west to east – for programmatic cooperation for transboundary conservation and development. The objective is to promote regional cooperation among the countries that share a given landscape for effective conservation and livelihood development through the promotion of ecological integrity, economic development, and socio-economic resilience to environmental changes.

The Landscape Initiative in the Far Eastern Himalayas (HI-LIFE) is a transboundary conservation and development initiative implemented in the Far Eastern Himalayan Landscape (FHL) that spans 71,452 sq km, across parts of Northern Myanmar (Namyun in the Sagaing Region, and Tanai, Sumprabum, Putao, Machanbaw, Nawngmun and Khaunglanphu in Kachin District); the Namdapha Tiger Reserve (NTR), including the Namdapha National Park (NNP) and adjoining buffer areas in Changlang District in India; and three Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve segments, together with the intervening areas between them in Northwest Yunnan, China.

The landscape, one of the most biodiversity rich in the region, is regarded as the “Centre of Plant Diversity”, “Eastern Asiatic Regional Centre for Endemism” and the converging ground for three global biodiversity hotspots: the Hindu Kush Himalaya, the Indo-Burma and the Mountains of Southwest China. Half of the landscape is under formal protection, supported by contiguous protected areas. The landscape includes one of the last remaining tracts of intact natural forest ecosystems in Southeast Asia large enough to maintain rich biodiversity. It is home to a number of ethnic communities and tribes who add to the region’s cultural and traditional diversity.

HI-LIFE focuses on strengthening regional cooperation between China, India and Myanmar for integrated landscape management. The partners have developed shared understanding of the landscape through a series of iterative consultative processes, affirmed their collaboration through a HI-LIFE Regional Cooperation Framework, and collectively developed conservation and development strategies. The management of biodiversity is a prime objective, and there is the realization that community involvement is key to the management of resources. Strengthening livelihoods, which are mostly natural resources dependent, is very important.

The need for a regional TOT was recognized over the course of multiple interactions between ICIMOD and HI-LIFE partners in all three countries, where linkages between ecosystems services and livelihood opportunities were discussed and potential livelihood options were mapped. Recommendations were validated through a Landscape Journey exercise in respective pilot sites in China, India and Myanmar. In all three sites, options for promoting innovative livelihoods through eco-tourism and other NTFPs based value chain development efforts were highlighted, and the need for capacity strengthening mentioned. The idea was to optimize the use of the landscape’s rich natural and socio-cultural assets, rich agrobiodiversity (indigenous plant, livestock, bees) and non-timber natural resources (bamboos, medicinal herbs etc.). The Landscape Journey also revealed that all three countries have national plans to support such conservation linked economic development. The need for practical skills related to operating eco-tourism and other high-value enterprises using value chain approaches, and adapting relevant land water management technologies among institutions and communities in the pilot areas was recognized. This set the stage for the Regional Training of Trainers (TOT) on innovative livelihoods.

The report was co-funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Nepal.