‘HKH, a biosphere on the brink’, Scientists warn

Kathmandu, 06 Feb: Scientists have declared the Hindu Kush Himalaya HKH, one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, a ‘biosphere on the brink’ as a major global meeting of biodiversity experts opens here.

The meeting of the IPBES nexus assessment with over 130 leading scientists and subjects from 70 countries that commenced on Monday continues till 9th February and there will be a meeting to advance a summary for policymakers on February 10 and 11.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) with 143 member states, established to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services is an independent intergovernmental body.

The meeting, jointly hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of Nepal, and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), is underway at the ICIMOD headquarters in Kathmandu. This is the first time an IPBES assessment meeting is being held in South Asia.


Researchers at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), which is hosting the meeting, describe the speed and scale of losses in nature and habitat in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, which stretches 3,500km and spans eight countries, as catastrophic. “It is almost too late,” Deputy Director General Izabella Koziell told delegates to the IPBES meeting.

“Four of the world’s 36 global biodiversity hotspots are in this region. 12 of the global 200 eco regions, 575 Protected Areas, 335 important bird areas, those figures speak for themselves. Yet we are in an accelerating crisis, despite the efforts of everyone here and many in the international community. 70% of the original biodiversity has been lost over the last century. And yet 85% of mountain communities remain dependent on this biodiversity, for food, water, flood control and cultural identity.”

“The declines in nature across this region,” says IPBES author and ICIMOD Ecosystems Specialist Sunita Chaudhary, “are so advanced and accelerating so fast they now pose a threat to the lives of not just animal and plant life, but also human societies.”