Making water protection pay
With 6 000 rivers and 5 000 lakes, Nepal is rich in water resources. The country’s hydropower generation, agriculture, ecotourism and recreation all depend on biodiversity and other ecosystem services. Safeguarding these public goods requires action at the community and, increasingly, the landscape level.
The watersheds of Begnas and Rupa Lakes are a popular tourist destination north of Pokhara in central Nepal. More than 10 000 households call the region home.
LI-BIRD has long worked in the area of Begnas Lake in the field of agricultural biodiversity management. In a successful pilot project, it demonstrated the potential of a Payment for Watershed Services (PWS) mechanism to address watershed-related conflicts in Nepal.
This project included a context and stakeholder analysis in the Begnas watershed to facilitate the formation of a Payment for Watershed Services mechanism and a collective vision and outreach strategy for communicating ecological cause-and-effect linkages to stakeholders in watershed communities.
GOALS AND EXPECTED IMPACT
The project’s main objective was to scale up payments for a PWS system to enable sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resources and improve the lives and livelihoods of poor rural households in Lekhnath Municipality, Nepal. By its end a functioning PWS system was in place, with service charges on watershed services being used to pay upstream communities for following sustainable watershed management practices. About 17 000 other community forest user groups in Nepal stand to benefit from adopting the PES approach to address water conflicts.