The Himalayan ecosystem is fragile and diverse. It includes over 51 million people who practice hill agriculture and remains vulnerable The Himalayan ecosystem is vital to the ecological security of the Indian landmass, through providing forest cover, feeding perennial rivers that are the source of drinking water, irrigation, and hydropower, conserving biodiversity, providing a rich base for high value agriculture, and spectacular landscapes for sustainable tourism. The Himalayan eco system is vulnerable and susceptible to the impacts and consequences of a) changes on account of natural causes, b) climate change resulting from anthropogenic emissions and c) developmental paradigms of the modern society.
The Himalayas house one of the largest resources of snow and ice and its glaciers which form a source of fresh water for the perennial rivers such as the Indus, the Ganga, and the Brahmaputra. Glacial melt may impact their long-term leanseason flows, with adverse impacts on the economy in terms of water availability and hydropower generation. Recession of Himalayan glaciers will pose a major danger to the country. Currently available data gathered by multiples of institutions without a coordinated effort do not indicate systematic trends of recession of Himalayan glaciers
The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) has enunciated the launch of a National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem. The Mission needs to deliver better understanding of the coupling between the Himalayan ecosystem and the climate factors and provide inputs for Himalayan Sustainable development while addressing also the protection of a fragile ecosystem. This will require the joint effort of climatologists, glaciologists and other experts. Exchange of information with the South Asian countries and countries sharing the Himalayan ecology will also be required. There is a need to establish an observational and monitoring network for the Himalayan environment to assess freshwater resources and health of the ecosystem.
The mission attempts to address some important issues concerning a) Himalayan Glaciers and the associated hydrological consequences, b) Biodiversity conservation and protection,
c) Wild life conservation and protection,
d) Traditional knowledge societies and their livelihood and
e) Planning for sustaining of the Himalayan Ecosystem. 3
Recognizing the importance of scientific and technological inputs required for sustaining the fragile Himalayan Ecosystem, the Ministry of Science and Technology has been charged with the nodal responsibility of coordinating this mission. However, the mission requires valuable cooperation of Indian Himalayan States, the planning commission and the Ministry of Environment and Forests to achieve its goals.
Sustainability of an ecosystem demands a balance and equilibrium among various forms of life and their surroundings established over long periods of time. Therefore, the mission recognizes the need for creation and building of national capacities to observe and respond to changes in a sustainable manner. The mission proposes a coordinated effort in identification and strengthening of institutions engaged already in the conservation and management of the natural resources in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR). Mission plans to effectively network such institutions with common and shared objectives, co-sharing of resources and co-generation of processes leading to ecologically sustainable development.
Sustaining the Himalayan eco system as a national mission, will focus on the rapid generation of four types of national capacities, They deal with a) Human and knowledge capacities,
b) Institutional capacities,
c) Capacities for evidence based policy building and governance and d) Continuous self learning for balancing between forces of Nature and actions of mankind.
Primary objective of the mission is to develop in a time bound manner a sustainable National...