Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and Barrage IBA
(Jyotendra Jyu Thakuri)
Some facts and figures AREA: 21,000 ha PROTECTION STATUS: Wildlife Reserve (protected) and barrage (unprotected) CONSERVATION STATUS: high pressures, unfavourable state, medium response MAIN METHODS FOR ASSESSING ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: stakeholder workshops (9), key informant meetings, rapid appraisal, household surveys (154) SURVEY STAFF: 3 SURVEY TIME: 30 person days The Site: This Important Bird Area (IBA) was created as a result of the construction of the Koshi Barrage in 1958, which provides water to India. It was designated as a Ramsar Site in 1987. This site is an IBA because it is a very important wetland for migrating waders and waterfowl, and is a critical site for the globally threatened Swamp Francolin. It also harbours other threatened species, including the Ganges River Dolphin and holds the last remaining population of wild Asian Water Buffalo in the country. The Issues: The majority of the 16,280 households living inside the buffer zone cultivate rice crops and utilise the reserve for other resources, including fish, fodder and firewood. 61% are classified as wetland-dependent communities. However, reduction in the numbers of waterbirds indicates a reduction in fish with severe consequences for both wildlife and humans. This study: The value of ecosystem services delivered by the site was compared to those delivered by comparable habitats outside the reserve. Local people benefit from fishing and harvesting grasses which may be having a negative impact on the biodiversity. Benefits from international tourism are low but significant. However, they mainly accrue nationally. Interpreting the results: Local people are highly dependent on the natural resources of the reserve and it provides many more benefits than the surrounding areas outside of the Protected Area which have been heavily degraded. However, improving the management of the site for important bird species will require more regulated harvesting within key areas of the reserve. Where costs for local people are significant, initiatives may be needed which help redress the imbalance. For example, alternative livelihoods projects based on use of invasive plant species or fish farming and engagement in the tourism sector may help to reduce pressures whilst giving local people a fair share of the benefits.