This project is co-funded by the Municipality of Milan in the framework of the call “Milano per la difesa, incremento e valorizzazione della biodiversità. Contributi a favore della solidarietà e della cooperazione internazionale – anno 2010.”
PERIOD OF PROJECT EXECUTION
March 13, 2012 – May 30, 2014
Sagarmatha National Park (SNP), Khumbu Valley and Kathmandu (Nepal)
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences – University of Pavia, Italy
Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) – Nepal
Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University (TU) – Nepal
Chaurikharka Village Development Committee, Solukhumbu District – Nepal
Prof. Graziano Rossi
The Indian subcontinent is one of the richest areas in the world in terms of biodiversity (25.000 species of vascular plants estimated), and Nepal counts on its territory a very rich flora (about 6.500 species) with a high number of endemic species (350). However 15% of these plants are threatened by extinction due to change in land use, climate change and human overexploitation for medicinal use and recently also by the impact of tourism, that contributes to the destruction of natural habitats and to deforestation (wood used as source of heat).
For this reason, in order to reduce the loss of biodiversity, it is necessary to promote ex situ conservation actions of natural resources. As recognized by UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme), ex situ conservation represents an effective tool to ensure the conservation of threatened plants, for reintroducing useful biological materials and for promoting the sustainable use of natural resources
The aim of the project is to start and make independent over the long period, plant biodiversity conservation in Nepal, through ex situ conservation of Himalayan wild plants in the first Seed Bank dedicated to them (hosted in NAST laboratory, at Laliptur, Kathmandu and started in the frame of the SHARE project, managed by Ev-K2-CNR), and to improve the knowledge of these topics by local scientific institutions (NAST, TU) and local communities. Particular attention is paid to wild medicinal, alpine, subalpine plants and spontaneous relatives of cultivated species (Crop Wild Relatives CWR) and landraces, the local varieties cultivated in the Sagarmatha National Park (Everest area), especially if they have peculiar nutritional properties and health benefits. The conservation of these species will also ensure greater food security and human health for future local generations, while protecting biodiversity, and with the prospect of achieving an eco-sustainable development. This is also in line with one of the main themes of EXPO2015.
Conservation at the Himalayan Seed Bank (HSB) of seeds of at least 200 species of useful wildplants as medicinal species (MAPs), alpine plants, CWR, landraces, agricultural or useful plants. Among these at least 5 should be cultivated in agreement with the heads of the villages in Sagarmatha National Park (SNP) and local communities.
Promotion of capacity building actions for local institutions and courses for Nepalese technicians and researchers in Nepal and Italy in order to provide them the most modern ex situ conservation techniques and to implement sustainable management of natural resources, particularly in mountain and alpine areas.
Communication actions, locally and at scientific institutions, public opinion and young people, with particular focus on high schools and universities, by issuing of press releases, creation of project web pages on the websites of the institutions involved, both in English, Italian and Nepalese. The aim is to help people to understand the importance of the HSB implementation in Nepal for wild and useful plants long term preservation.
Promotion of village seed banks (Community Seed Banks) in the Buffer Zone in SNP and experimental greenhouses, in order to increase and improve the conservation of seeds used in cultivation actions of local population, guaranteeing food security and safeguard of local agro-biodiversity and promoting the local market.
Project dissemination activities.
Starting of activities at HSB, hosted in NAST and starting of seed banking, for conservation activities (cleaning, characterization, dehydration and freezing), according to the international standards requested by Millennium Seed Bank (UK).
Planning and realization of a mixed system (photovoltaic, standard and emergency generator) for energy power supplies and energetic independence of HSB from NAST.
Collection in Sagarmatha National Park of 200 samples of seeds of endemic species and medicinal plants, with relative herbarium and leave samples, and their ex situ conservation at HSB.
Improvement of agro-biodiversity conservation (landraces varieties) in SNP buffer zone, at 2.800 m a.s.l. through realization of a village seed bank at Chaurikarka Village. This activity is focused on the action of single families (about 30) to which the necessary equipments (drum and silica gel) were delivered and the right information about their use.
Identification of local MAPs used in the lower Everest Valley.
Improvement of cultivation techniques and sustainable use of wildlife medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs), as well as of local vegetables, through the realization of experimental greenhouses for the inhabitants of Chaurikharka Village (equipments given to further 30 families).
Training course, on field, through the organization of missions in Khumbu Valley, often jointly with Italian people and local staff of NAST, Tribhuvan University and of local institutions (SNP, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation) for transferring knowledge on local flora, on seed collecting techniques and the necessary information for using the equipments on the field (GPS, altimeter, Himalayan flora handbook etc..)
Training of HSB researchers about techniques of seed cleaning and storage, according to the ENSCONET conservation standard protocol about germination tests and the subsequent monitoring of germinated seeds with partial and final scoring, cut test and seed counter in order to quantify the size of each sample both in situ and from remote (e-learning) and by study trips at the University of Pavia.
Realization of a database, according to a management system developed by the Department of Plant Sciences – Oxford University, and training of Nepalese researchers for implementing the same. This archive will be regularly updated by Nepalese staff with the information regarding seed collecting, cleaning, storage and characterisation.
Realization of an experiment in the field near the Pyramid Laboratory Observatory to study the regeneration from seeds of Himalayan alpine plant in relation to climate change.
Visit to Pavia (September 2012) of a young person of Chaurikarka Village at the Seed Bank hosted at the University of Pavia (Italy).
Promotion and dissemination activities at national and international levels (organization of events, participation at conferences and institutional meetings, realization of informative material, publication of scientific papers…)