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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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As a Party to these Conventions, Nepal has to prepare and implement national action programmes to bring about change in the consumption pattern, ensure the conservation of biological species and/or forests, and implement land improvement activities. Some environmental obligations of the Conventions and Agreements, to which Nepal is a Party, are presented in Table 3.2.

Nepal is also Party to the Convention on the High Seas; Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, Outer Space and Under Water;

Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies;

Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Sea-bed and the Ocean Floor

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Since the last three decades, efforts for species conservation in the protected areas have also brought about a change in the population of a few of the endangered wild animals. The CITES played a major role in 84 Ministry of Population and Environment State of the Environment Report, 2000 contributing towards adoption of stringent measures for the conservation of the rhinoceroses. (Box 3.3).

Box 3.3 Rhino Population Increased

His Majesty's Government (HMG/N) along with its partner organisations has conducted intensive conservation efforts in protected areas. This has significantly increased in the population of the protected wildlife. Current estimates indicate tiger population to be within the range of 150 to 200; wild buffaloes - 100 to 120; black bucks - 100 to 110; Bos gauros - a minimum of 190; and wild elephants - 40 to 50. In addition, over 450 crocodiles – legally protected species, have been released in three major rivers – Koshi, Karnali and Narayani rivers.

In April 2000, HMG and its partner organisations carried out a Count Rhino Programme and confirmed that the population of Greater one-horned rhinoceroses (Rhinoceros unicornis) increased from about 90 in the late 1960s to 612 in 2000. Of them, 544, 67 and 1 rhinos were recorded in the Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP), Royal Bardiya National Park (RBNP) and Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (RSWR) respectively. The last census, conducted in 1994, had recorded 446-466 rhinos in and around RCNP with the annual growth rate of 3.7 per cent. The 2000 census shows an annual growth rate of 3.88 per cent.

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These protected areas are the representative ecosystems of the IndoMalayan bio-geographic realm. RCNP, Nepal's first protected area, is also listed as a World Heritage site.

Such encouraging increase in the number of protected wild animals has motivated various agencies to strengthen efforts for species conservation.

Several seminars and meetings have been organised and studies carried out to implement the obligations of these Conventions. Nepal is preparing an Action Plan in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity (Box 3.4). Nepal is also planning to prepare the National Action Programmes (NAP) as per the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

In this process, HMG organized a national seminar on Desertification and Land Improvement, with the assistance of the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, in order to share experiences and identify priority issues for NAP. Furthermore, Nepal has recently prepared 85 Ministry of Population and Environment State of the Environment Report, 2000 the national report on the status of implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

Box 3.4 National Biodiversity Action Plan Prepared

In accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity, Nepal is finalising the National Biodiversity Action Plan Project under the component of the GEF-funded Biodiversity Conservation Project. The Action Plan aims to develop systematic and strategic approaches, provide specific priority programmes and actions by recognising existing initiatives and responsibilities, and identify needs and constraints for biodiversity conservation. The plan provides a comprehensive strategy for coordination of the various stakeholders of biodiversity, including, wildlife, forestry, agriculture, and communities at large to implement the prioritised conservation needs of the country. The Plan has also identified priority areas requiring conservation in the areas of forestry, wildlife, wetland and agriculture diversity (crops and livestock). Successful implementation of this Action Plan will help conserve local biodiversity as well as meet international obligations.

3.4.2 Legally Non-Binding Instruments

A number of international conferences and meetings have adopted environment-related principles and recommendations to improve the environmental quality. Though legally non-binding, however, it is the moral responsibility of the Party country to implement them through integration into the national programmes. In this context, the principles adopted in the Stockholm Conference and Rio Earth Summit are of major importance.

Agenda 21 of the Earth Summit and the authoritative statement of principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests enable and facilitate a country to prepare and implement environment friendly activities. In accordance with the spirit of these principles, Nepal has developed and implemented numerous environmental policies and programmes. HMG's National Environmental Policy and Action Plan (NEPAP), 1993 has embodied some of the concerns which were prepared after the Rio Earth Summit.

Nepal has accorded high priority to implementing these Conventions and legally non-binding instruments. However, it has yet to develop and implement all the Convention resolutions through the development of strategies and regulatory measures.

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Realising the emergence of environmental problems along with the socioeconomic development, HMG has taken a number of steps to minimise the adverse environmental impacts. This Chapter highlights the development of environmental institutions, some achievements and ikely emerging l issues.

4.1 Environmental Institutions Institutions for establishing database on natural resources in Nepal dates back to the early 1950s. However, since the 1980s institutional reforms have been carefully introduced to include environment policies at different hierarchies, particularly at sectoral level. These reforms prompted integration of environmental aspects in sectoral plans and in implementation of selected activities. In 1974, a National Committee on Man and Biosphere was established and environmental activities were initiated. In the early 1980s, the National Resources Conservation Commission was established to integrate natural resources issues in sectoral programmes. In 1987 an Environment and Resource Conservation Division was established in the National Planning Commission Secretariat to integrate environmental issues in development planning. Similarly, a Council for the Conservation of Natural and Cultural Resources was established in 1990 and in 1992 the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation was renamed as the Ministry of Forests and Environment.

During the process of institutional evolution, other agencies later replaced these institutions.

Ex ante consideration and integration of the environmental aspects in socio-economic development process was further emphasised and facilitated by the establishment of Environment Protection Council in 1992, under the chairmanship of the Rt. Hon'ble Prime Minister. The Council is an advisory body and is represented by concerned ministers, high-level administrators, representatives of NGOs, and the private sector and professionals.

Various other organisations are also mandated to implement environment conservation activities. Among others, the Parliamentary Committee on Environment Conservation oversees the actions of the government and provides advice and directives on environment related issues. The Ministry Ministry of Population and Environment 87 State of the Environment Report, 2000 of Forests and Soil Conservation, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, with their respective departments and district offices implement activities in the green sector, whereas the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply, Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, Ministry of Labour and Transport, and the Municipalities are concerned with minimising environmental pollution.

The Ministry of Population and Environment (MOPE), established on 22 September 1995, is primarily responsible for formulation and implementation policies, plans and programmes. MOPE is also responsible for preparing environment related Acts, Rules and Guidelines; conducting environmental surveys, studies and researches; disseminating information and carrying out public awareness programmes. It also performs the functions of monitoring and evaluation, development of human resources and acts as a national and international focal point in the domain of population and environment (MOPE, 1996). The major agencies with environment related responsibilities are presented in Annex 10.

Various non-governmental organisations, local clubs and community-based organisations (CBOs) also implement conservation programmes and/or raise public awareness, individually or jointly. Activities of the NGOs/CBOs are observed as an effective medium at grassroots levels.

In Nepal, the central level institutions, i.e., the ministries are basically policy-making bodies, while the departments and the district level organisations play the role of implementing the activities. The government's liberalisation policy will further necessitate the integration of the environmental aspects into development proposals. Despite these efforts, there still exists a tendency of maintaining that environment is automatically managed once environmental studies are conducted. To bring about change in such an approach, concerted effort is required for effective implementation of the study findings. Only then can positive change in environmental quality be brought about.

4.2 Economic Instruments

Along with policy and legal measures, environmental management is also possible through the introduction of economic tools and instruments to attract various stakeholders to comply with the set standards. Though environmental quality standards are yet to be developed, few of the economic instruments recently introduced would help minimise environmental damage. Macro-economic policies could also generate environmental problems. For example, the objectives of high economic

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In order to contribute to the national development as well as environmental improvement, various economic adjustments have been introduced. A few of them would accelerate environmental impacts while others would minimise them. Subsidies on gobar gas (methane) plants in rural areas are likely to have positive impacts on the environment, as majority of the local people depend on firewood to meet their energy demand. It would also minimise indoor air pollution. The government has introduced the policy of providing interest free loans with a repayment period of seven years and a direct subsidy of NRs. 5,000 per plant through the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB/Nepal). This incentive is estimated to save about 4.8 to 6.5 tons of fuelwood annually per household. Similarly, occurrence of chronic bronchitis and upper respiratory tract infections, which largely occur in the rural areas due to burning of firewood, would also be minimised. The policy of subsidy on kerosene would also contribute towards reducing pressure on forests for fuelwood.

The Environment Protection Act, 1996 provides additional concessions and facilities to encourage industries and enterprises to adopt technologies and processes that would minimise negative impacts on the environment. The industrial policy also promotes the use of cleaner technologies to increase efficiency in resource use. The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 (amended in 1993) provides a special provision to allocate 30 to 50 per cent of the total revenue generated in the protected areas for community development. This legal provision facilitates the involvement of local people in species and ecosystem management and community development. Promotion of community forests also directly benefits local people such as forestry user's groups. By meeting the demand for forest products, they can generate and use the income accrued for community development. The Forest Act, 1992 (amendment 1998) encourages the forestry users groups to allocate 25 per cent of the total income generated into the community forests for their development and management. These recent economic instruments are expected to bring about positive changes in socio-economic conditions and environmental management.

Similarly, the Fiscal Act, 1999 has provided tax incentives for the production of electricity, gas or battery operated vehicles or for the import of the necessary parts of such vehicles. As per the provisions of this Act, the owners who cancel the registration of the diesel or petrol-operated three-wheelers plying in the Kathmandu Valley or stop the movement of Ministry of Population and Environment 89 State of the Environment Report, 2000 such vehicles in the Valley receive 75 per cent tax exemption in the current fiscal year 1999/2000 if they intend to import 10 to 15 seated vehicles except cars, jeeps and pick-ups or vehicles having over 10 ton GVW for providing public transportation facilities. Additional 10 per cent tax exemption has been provided for the import of microbuses which comply with the EURO-1 standard. Furthermore, legal provisions have been made to generate finances for environmental management and pollution control by imposing pollution tax on diesel and petrol prices. In addition, the commercial firms are required to get prior approval of the Ministry of Population and Environment while importing scraps of cloth, metal and plastics or equipment.

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