Pragyajan Rai, MEM

2010 TRI Fellow in Nepal, India

Ecoregions: A paradigm shift in conservation

The diversity of habitat types and ecological communities in the Eastern Himalayas of South Asia are attributed to elevation changes and climatic variation. However, conservationists argue that aside from the topography and the geography, the presence of indigenous communities in such pristine landscape fragments these diverse habitats and poses a serious risk to species conservation in the region. Hence, conservation institutions are now focused on large-scale conservation practices with the application of modern technological interventions, which some argue are a diversion from the community-oriented conservation model.

My study questions the scope of the Eastern Himalayan Ecoregion and investigates the large-scale conservation model implemented in three states—the Eastern region of Nepal, North East India and Bhutan—that are identified as global biodiversity hotspots by conservation institutions such as WWF. My research delves into the formulation process, strategies of program implementation, and governance of such areas. I also investigate the integration of communities and their role in conservation and management of such landscape models. My research focuses on the village of Ghunsa, Nepal, which lies within the Eastern Himalaya Ecoregion and is part of the Kanchanjunga Conservation Area (KCA).