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«His Majesty's Government Ministry of Population and Environment Kathmandu, Nepal June 2000 Ministry of Population and Environment 1 State of the ...»

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State of the Environment Report, 2000

STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT

NEPAL

His Majesty's Government

Ministry of Population and Environment

Kathmandu, Nepal

June 2000

Ministry of Population and Environment

1

State of the Environment Report, 2000

Published by His Majesty's Government, Ministry of Population

and Environment, Kathmandu, Nepal.

The material in this publication may be

reproduced in whole or part for educational or

non-profit purposes. The Ministry will appreciate acknowledgement and receiving a copy of the publication which uses this information as a source.

No part of this publication may be used for resale or other commercial purposes.

Citation MOPE, 2000. Nepal's State of the Environment.

His Majesty's Government, Ministry of Population and Environment, Kathmandu.

Cover Photograph Poster showing ideal environment Report Preparation 1. State of the Environment Report published by MOPE in 1998 was revised and updated by Independent Consultant Mr. S. R. Devkota in June 1999.

2. This report was revised and edited by Dr.

Arzu Rana-Deuba in October 1999 Printed at Sishu Siddartha Press Kilagadh, Kathmandu Tel. 259510 Ministry of Population and Environment 2 State of the Environment Report, 2000 Foreword Natural resource depletion and pollution are the major environmental concerns in Nepal. A vast majority of Nepali people depend on forest resources for firewood and fodder. Increase in the level of environmental pollution has resulted in poor health of the population. The environmental quality has been degraded further due to lack of environmental standards and their enforcement.

In realisation of these problems as well as the benefits of environmental management, His Majesty's Government (HMG) of Nepal has started the integration of environmental aspects in the socio-economic development process through policy initiatives, law enforcement, institutional strengthening and public awareness programmes. The Ministry of Population and Environment (MOPE) has initiated, inter alia, a number of activities including the development of environmental tools to address these problems. One of such recent initiatives is the banning of the movement of diesel-operated three-wheelers in Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City and Lumbini - the birthplace of Lord Budda since the middle of September 1999. HMG has introduced the Nepal Vehicle Mass Emission Standard since 23 December 1999. HMG is also planning to prepare and implement a comprehensive Environmental Action Plan to improve the overall environmental quality and promote sustainable development.

The State of the Environment Report provides insights into the environmental condition of the country and the efforts made to minimise the impacts of environmental degradation. I would like to appreciate the contribution of the individuals who were involved in preparing this Report.

–  –  –

Nepal faces different kinds of environmental challenges and the need to address them is also urgent. As rural and urban environmental problems vary significantly, two sets of environmental instruments are required to be developed and implemented through participation of stakeholders. The Ministry of Population and Environment is, therefore, in the process of developing these instruments aimed at promoting environmentally sound and sustainable development.

As development of different projects have their impacts on the environment to a certain degree, it is necessary to inform development partners and people at large about the consequences of their activities on the environment.

With this understanding, His Majesty's Government of Nepal published the first State of the Environment Report on 5 June 1998. This Report is the second in series. This Report outlines the current environmental trends with an analysis of problems in socio-economic, physical and biological environment. The Report documents the existing policies, strategies, legal measures and other actions taken to address these environmental issues.

The Ministry will appreciate receiving the comments and suggestions from readers and shall consider them for inclusion in future publications of similar State of Environment Reports of the country.

The Ministry acknowledges the valuable inputs provided by Mr. S. R.

Devkota, the then Member of the Environment Protection Council in reviewing and updating this Report and appreciates the efforts of Dr. Arzu Rana-Deuba for editing this Report. I would also like to express my thanks to colleagues of MOPE Messrs J. R. Joshi, Joint Secretary, M. P. Regmi, Legal Officer, P. Kunwar, Under Secretary and B. K. Uprety, Ecologist and Ms.

Pinky Singh Rana of SAMANATA for their efforts in bringing out this Report in the present form.

–  –  –

Chapter Three : POLICY, LEGISLATION AND INTERNATIONAL

COMMITMENTS

3.1 Policy Initiatives

3.2 Action Plans

3.3 Environmental Legislation

3.4 International Commitments 4.4.1 Legally Binding Instruments 4.4.2 Legally Non-Binding Instruments Chapter Four : ACTIONS AND EMERGING ISSUES

4.1 Environmental Institutions

4.2 Economic Instruments





4.3 Selected Programmes

4.4 Vehicle Pollution Control Programs

4.5 Emerging Issues 4.5.1 Resource Degradation 4.5.2 Environmental Pollution 4.5.3 Integrated Environment Management Approach REFERENCES ANNEXES Annex 1 Chronology of Natural Hazards including earthquakes in Kathmandu Valley Annex 2 Road washouts for landslides and floods Annex 3 Nepal's flora and fauna in the CITES Appendices Annex 4 Plant species legally protected under the Forest Act, 1992 Annex 5 Protected Wildlife under the NPWC Act, 1973 Annex 6 Yearly Energy Consumption and Percentage Share of Energy Consumption by Sector Annex 7 Willingness to pay for community managed waste collection in Metro Kathmandu Annex 8 Vehicular Emission test results Annex 9 Industrial pollution load in Nepal Annex 10 Institutions with their environmental responsibilities Annex 11 Nepal Vehicle Mass Emission Standard, 2056 Ministry of Population and Environment 6 State of the Environment Report, 2000

Summary

This State of the Environment Report presents sector-wise information on environmental dimensions, trends, policy initiatives and emerging issues at the national level. Primarily based upon secondary information, the Report also includes samples of some measures adopted for integrating environmental aspects into development activities.

Nepal can be divided into five physiographic regions with sharp contrasts in elevation and steepness, ranging from flat plains (below 100 m above the sea level) to the high Himalayas (Mt. Everest - 8,848 m). About 60 per cent of the total land can be graded as steep to very steep. The soil and climate also vary according to the physiographic zones. Such a diverse physiographic setting and the consequent varied ecological settings present both opportunities and complexities for environmental management.

In general, environmental problems have emanated from uns ustainable use of natural resources, and inadequate integration of environmental planning into development programmes and their implementation. Major environmental problems have emerged from land degradation, depletion of forest resources, unplanned urban development and mismanagement of industrial effluents and domestic wastes.

Population growth has been one of the major causes of environmental degradation, as it increases pressure on the natural resources base. Ruralurban migration has also stretched th e carrying capacity of urban utility services such as drinking water and sewerage systems. Water-borne and airborne diseases are on the rise in towns and cities. Only about 30 per cent of the total population has access to piped water, and sanitation facility is accessed by only 7 per cent of the country's total population. Poverty has also been one of the lead causes of environmental degradation in Nepal.

Nepal's greenhouse emission level is insignificant as only 52 tons of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) have been estimated utilised which corresponds to per capita consumption of only 0.0013 kg.

Environmental problems have also cropped up during the construction and operation of water resources projects. Withdrawal of underground water and low recharge potential, particularly in Kathmandu Valley is a potential threat for land subsidence. The physico-chemical and biological qualities of water are also degrading. Some wetlands are facing dual problems of eutrophication and encroachment.

Ministry of Population and Environment 7 State of the Environment Report, 2000 Land use change is noticeable in forest and agricultural land. There is a tendency to cultivate marginal lands. Several studies have concluded soil erosion to be a major environmental concern for Nepal. In terms of land degradation, about 0.4, 1.5 and 11.7 per cent respectively of the total watershed is reported to be in very poor, poor and fair conditions respectively.

It is also estimated that about 1.8 million tons of plant nutrients are removed due to crop harvest and soil erosion processes. Out of this, only 0.3 million tons are replenished by organic and mineral fertilisers, while the rest is permanently taken out of the soil thereby depleting the land productivity. Natural hazards such as landslides and floods are accelerated by human activities due to cultivation practices in the steep slopes and marginal lands. About 10,000 ha of land is typified by characteristics of cold desert.

About 50 per cent of Nepal's total area is covered by vegetation. Forest type differs from east to west and from north to south. However, there has been a steady decline in forest cover in almost all areas of the country. At present, only

4.2 million ha (29 per cent) and 1.6 million ha of the country is occupied by forests and shrub lands respectively. However, due to the success of community forestry programmemes, the quality of forests have improved in the hills and mountains. About 70 per cent of the population depend on the forests for their energy requirements. About 42 per cent of the total digestible nutrients for cattle are also obtained from forests. The Master Plan for the Forestry Sector state that there is a deficit in fuelwood, fodder and timber in specific areas, with the central mid-hills being greatly affected.

Nepal is rich in biological diversity. Though it has only 0.03 per cent of the total landmass of the world and 0.3 per cent of Asia, yet about 2.6 per cent of the flowering plants, 3.2 per cent of pteridophytes, 6 per cent of bryophytes, 8.5 per cent of birds, 4.3 per cent of mammals, and 1.5 per cent of reptiles of the world's flora and fauna have been recorded in Nepal thus far. About 500 species of plants are endemic to Nepal. Over 1,000 species are described from Nepalese flora. Of the total species recorded, 20 plant species are included in the CITES appendices and 13 species are legally protected. HMG has also given legal protection to 26 species of mammals, 9 species of birds and 3 species of reptiles. These species are conserved in 8 National Parks, 4 Wildlife Reserves, 3 Conservation Areas, and Hunting Reserve as well as other national and community forest areas. However, species outside the protected areas are facing threat due to habitat loss and/or degradation, unregulated collection of forest products, poaching and hunting of wild animals.

Energy demand is met from a combination of both traditional and commercial sources. About 89 per cent of the total energy is obtained from traditional sources such as fuelwood, agricultural residues and dung, while the remaining 11 per cent is obtained from commercial sources such as petroleum products, coal and electricity. There is an increasing trend to utilise commercial energy.

Though Nepal's hydropower potential is high, thus far only 1 per cent of the Ministry of Population and Environment 8 State of the Environment Report, 2000 total energy need is met from this sector. At present, efforts are being made to promote alternative sources of energy. Government subsidies for biogas generation have increased its usage in the plain and the valleys of the country.

The volume of municipal wastes is increasing along with population growth. In Kathmandu Valley, over two-thirds of the waste is biodegradable and can be recycled and reused. However, hazardous wastes disposed-off mostly by the health institutions will likely to further compound the waste management problem. Existing facilities are grossly inadequate for safe collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of municipal wastes. A recent governmental policy of inviting the private sector to manage waste could possibly contribute to the reuse of waste material.

Emissions from vehicles and industries have led to significant changes in the quality of the urban atmosphere. Existing ambient air quality in Kathmandu Valley is within the range of the WHO guidelines, with the exception of total suspended particulate (TSP) and particulate matter (PM10). Sporadic research findings indicate winter days to be more polluted than summer days, in terms of airborne particulate matter presence. Though the volume of wastewater is low, some of it is known to be highly toxic. In general, environmental pollution is location-specific and is on the increase due to disposal and/or discharge of waste and waste water without any treatment. Noise level in the urban and industrial areas is also on the increase. It is likely be a major concern in a number of municipal and industrial areas in the near future.

In spite of increasing agro-inputs like chemical fertilis ers and pesticides, there is no significant increase in the yield of major crops. Even now, 1.7 million hectares (ha) which accounts for 65 per cent of the total cultivated land is only rainfed. The yield rate of paddy indicates a slight increase from 1.98 mt/ha to



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