Ensuring Asia’s ‘Ghosts of the Mountain’ Thrive in the Face of Climate Change
In Bhutan, India, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan, the project takes an integrated, climate-smart approach to snow leopard conservation using site-specific, climate adaptation activities. This approach is informed by socioeconomic surveys and climate vulnerability assessments and includes snow leopard research and protection, livelihood diversification, improved water management and food production ─ all with full community participation.
In Bhutan, a model climate-smart village in eastern Wangchuck Centennial National Park is playing a leading role in piloting a suite of activities for mountain farming communities, including springshed protection for village water sources, use of biogas as an alternative to firewood, improved water storage and delivery systems and greenhouse farming of alternative crops.
These activities are helping mountain communities in the snow leopard range coexist with the big cats, improve economic prosperity and continue their stewardship of the local environment.
Another key element of the project is facilitating international collaboration on snow leopard conservation, water resource management and wildlife crime. In October 2013, the 12 snow leopard range nations signed the landmark Bishkek Declaration on international cooperation to protect the endangered snow leopard across its range, creating the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) to secure 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020.
The process for preparing the plan for Eastern Nepal, completed and presented at the GSLEP summit in August 2017, will serve as a model for replication for other GSLEP member states, such as a second climate-smart landscape management plan for the Kyrgyz Republic’s Central Tian Shan Mountains. These efforts are improving transnational collaboration on conservation to ensure a future for snow leopards.
Matt Erke is a Program Officer on the WWF-US Forest team. Matt manages and designs landscape conservation and green economy projects in Nepal and Myanmar. He helped design and manage the AHM Project, delivering technical reporting and communications assets. Matt is also developing an alternative energy program to reduce biomass use for cooking, and associated pressures on forests and wildlife. Matt has an MA in Environmental Policy from The George Washington University.