Twelve countries discuss snow leopards


The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) held a Steering Committee meeting on 20 January 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal. A two-day stocktaking workshop preceded the meeting to discuss the status of the GSLEP landscapes management plans and the overall progress of national snow leopard and ecosystem priorities. These management plans are expected to serve as the blueprints for the programme’s ambitious goal: to secure 20 snow leopard landscapes, covering 500 000 sq km of snow leopard habitat, by 2020.

All 12 snow leopard range countries (Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) were represented at the meeting by respective Forest and Environment Ministers or their designates. The meeting highlighted the substantial progress made in management planning of the GSLEP landscapes. Countries that have made particularly rapid progress towards achieving the GSLEP goals pointed out partnerships and decentralization of implementation mechanisms as the main drivers for success.

From the countries’ reports, four issues emerged that need immediate attention: resource mobilization, capacity building, illegal wildlife trade and climate change adaptation.

The workshop facilitated discussions among participating countries and partner organizations about various mechanisms for the implementation of management plans. Innovative models for co-management of large landscapes from Nepal and other parts of the world were discussed.

Several resource mobilization models emerged for the implementation of national snow leopard and ecosystem priorities and global support components of the GSLEP. These models are either being implemented already or could be implemented through concerted efforts. An example of one such model is the Global Environment Facility (GEF), who is supporting implementation of the GSLEP in many countries as well as regionally with projects worth more than $40 million already approved or being developed. Discussions focused on existing and potential support from country governments, international financial institutions and the private sector. A plan to explore further funding through the Green Climate Fund, bilateral treaties and greater engagement with business and industries was discussed.

Almazbek Atambayev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, proposed to host a Global Snow Leopard Summit in Bishkek on 7-8 September 2017. The purpose of the Summit is to energize the progress of the GSLEP at its mid-point (2013–2020), tackle the growing threats to snow leopards and their habitats, and raise financial resources for GSLEP implementation. The event is expected to help raise resources to both support implementation of national and global priorities identified by the programme and to foster integrated development of local economies and conservation of wildlife in Asia’s mountain areas.

Shankar Bhandari, Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation of Nepal, announced a plan to establish a Himalayan Research Centre in the country to encourage youth to engage in snow leopard research and conservation. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Prime Minister of Nepal, pledged a contribution of $500 000 from his government toward snow leopard conservation. Dahal also hailed the Kyrgyz President’s proposal of hosting the Summit in Bishkek in September 2017 and offered his full support to the endeavour.

Zahid Hamid, Minister of Climate Change of Pakistan and Chair of the GSLEP Steering Committee, invited his counterparts to a ministerial pre-Summit meeting in Islamabad to prepare the final Summit agenda and documentation in June or July 2017.

The meeting and workshop were organized by the Government of Nepal and GSLEP Secretariat, with support from the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), USAID, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Global Environment Facility (GEF), GTI Council (GTIC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), National Trust for Nature Conservation-Nepal (NTNC), South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network Secretariat (SAWEN) and Zoological Society of London-Nepal (ZSL).

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Photo by Foundation for Sustainable Development of Altai/Chagat Almashev

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