Biodiversity conservation in the Kailash region

Project description

Title: Biodiversity conservation in the Kailash landscape (Kailash sacred landscape conservation and development initiative, KSLCDI)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Nepal
Lead executing agency: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
Overall term: 2015 to 2017


The Kailash landscape is a transboundary high mountain region in the Himalayas between China, India and Nepal. Its centre is Mount Kailash (6,638 metres), which is revered as a holy place by Buddhists and Hindus and attracts large numbers of pilgrims and tourists.

The vital ecosystems and diversity of species of the Kailash landscape are threatened by climate change and overuse. As it is the source of major Asian rivers and the habitat of numerous endemic and endangered species, a transboundary conservation approach is essential if it is to continue providing important ecosystem services for the region. As part of the Transboundary Landscapes regional programme of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) with a total of seven regions in the Himalayan range, the Kailash initiative plays a pioneering role.


The project focuses on three module objectives:

  1. The population uses the value chains identified to increase their income on a sustainable basis. 
  2. Participatory ecosystem management approaches are implemented through action plans at local, national and transboundary level. 
  3. Regional cooperation to promote the conservation and development of the Kailash region is strengthened using established instruments.


Activities to improve living conditions in the region and management of ecosystems are carried out on an exemplary basis in six pilot areas – two each in China, India and Nepal. The pilot areas are all characterised by rich biodiversity; a high degree of vulnerability, particularly for women with the large-scale labour migration among the menfolk; significant impacts of climate change and overuse. This is the case, for example, in transition zones from forest to high alpine pastures and from wetlands to forest or cultivated areas. The project applies all measures to combat poverty directly and promote peace and security in the region.

The project supports ICIMOD with its strategic realignment based on regional priorities. A financing agreement as a key promotion component ensures the capacity of ICIMOD to act. The financial assistance is used for training courses, regional workshops, professional advisory services and other activities, some of which are implemented by ICIMOD itself, and some by the centre’s partners in the countries concerned. Other funding from outside the financing agreement is used to develop capacities and skills among ICIMOD staff and the partners.

At regional level, the project provides specialist support to strengthen management skills with a view to implementing complex transboundary programmes geared to conserving biodiversity and adapting to climate change.

At local, national and transboundary level, the project works with ICIMOD to provide support in the form of technical consulting services, expert assignments, studies and materials. It finances regular meetings to promote the exchange, planning and coordination of ongoing activities. In this manner, the project improves the dialogue capability of the countries involved and supports the establishment of the Kailash initiative as a platform for confidence building, particularly in transboundary cooperation between China and India.


ICIMOD has received support through German development cooperation activities for over 25 years. Initially, the focus was on creating transboundary conservation landscapes. This long-term German assistance enabled ICIMOD to bring together China, India and Nepal for a joint initiative. The three countries and ICIMOD agreed on a Regional Programme Implementation Plan, covering the period from 2012 to 2017 A key element of the framework is the preparation and implementation of integrated management plans for water catchment areas. In addition, under the terms of the Implementation Plan the parties agreed on joint environmental monitoring, regional cooperation with coordination committees, comprehensive exchange of information and knowledge, and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.