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National Mission on Himalayan Studies

Implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC)
Nodal and Serving hub with G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment & Sustainable Development

The Context

The majestic Himalaya, a life-support system for millions of people in uplands and much more in lowland areas of the country, acts as climate regulator for much of Asia. The ecosystem services emanating from this massive and diversified mountain chain contribute significantly for sustenance of most of the Indian sub-continent. All this, accompanied by the richness and uniqueness of bio-physical and socio-cultural diversity, has earned a global recognition to the region. However, this system being complex and young, the region remains geotectonically active and inherently unstable, fragile, and prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides, and flash floods, which are being exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. Incidences such as in Leh in 2010, Kedarnath in 2013, Kashmir in September 2014, and Nepal and neighbouring parts of India in April 2015 are some recent examples of such disasters. Given the complexity accompanied by inherent fragility and intense vulnerability, the Himalayan ecosystem requires a different approach for conservation and development interventions. It has now been well recognized that the interventions that ignore the imperatives of mountain specificities would invariably result in resource misuse and accelerated environmental degradation. This calls for evolving new paradigms of long-term conservation and sustainable development, which helps restoring intricate balance between economic interests and ecological imperatives in the region in particular and country in general. However, considering various factors which would be important while thinking of new paradigms, following observations on prevailing conditions need to be mentioned w.r.t. IHR: (i) Low investment per unit of area, (ii) Introduction of a technology (and after-effects) without assessing local needs and priorities, (iii) Isolated developmental efforts and absence of integrated management of natural resources, (iv) Absence of synergies and linkages to maximize the benefits of several ongoing schemes and programmes of the Government, (v) Limited extension education programmes appropriate to local needs, (vi) Inadequate long-term studies to support ecological imperatives and economical interests in the region. Recognizing the above and realizing that the Himalaya is important for Ecological Security of the country, the Government of India attaches the highest priority to protect unique but highly fragile Himalayan ecosystem. The National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS), a Central Sector (CS) Grant-in-Aid Scheme, therefore, targets to provide much needed focus, through holistic understanding of system's components and their linkages, in addressing the key issues relating to conservation and sustainable management of natural resources so as to improve quality of life and maintain ecosystem health in the region. The NMHS is expected to support the 13 monitorable targets towards environment, forests, wildlife and climate change under the Twelfth Plan national priorities, specifically in the context of the IHR. It is envisioned that the NMHS will contribute for achieving the Twelfth Plan goals covering Environment; Forests and Livelihood; Wildlife, Ecotourism and Animal Welfare; and Ecosystem and Biodiversity. Further, the Scheme will help to understand and improve the implementation and effectiveness of various national laws and policies in IHR. In other words, as the Scheme unfolds and robust and integrated information/ National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS) 16 Table 1.1: Diversity of biophysical features in IHR Bio-geographic Zones Bio-geographic Provinces % of geographical area of India Major Biome Representation Trans Himalaya 1A: Ladakh Mountains 3.3 Tundra 1B: Tibetan Plateau 2.3 Alpine 1 C: Sikkim Trans Himalaya < 0.1 Alpine, Tundra The Himalaya 2A: North west Himalaya 2.1 Alpine, Temperate, Sub Tropical 2B: West Himalaya 1.6 -do-2C: Central Himalaya 0.2 -do-2D: East Himalaya 2.5 -doNortheast India 9A: Brahamputra Valley 2.0 Tropical Evergreen Forest, Very Moist Sal Forest, Tropical Grass Lands datasets begin to flow in, the Government will be in a better position to respond to the need for developing laws and policies focused on the specific issues of the region. Furthermore, the NMHS will also serve to complement and supplement the outcomes of National Mission on Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) anchored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

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