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Wednesday, June 19, 2019 08:06:01 PM
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Conserving world heritage sites in HKH region emphasized

By City Desk
12th-Jun-2019       
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Experts at a meeting have stressed the need for conserving the world heritage sites and global biodiversity hotspots in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), saying there is a large potential for additional heritage sites in the region.
Despite the rich biodiversity and large expanses of wilderness and protected areas, half of the eight countries, including Bangladesh, in the region do not have a natural World Heritage property, they said.  The Wild Heritage, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and ICIMOD with support from the National Geographic Society recently organised the two-day meeting on "Leveraging the World Heritage Convention for Transboundary Conservation in the Hindu Kush Himalaya" in Kathmandu, according to an ICIMOD press release received in Dhaka on Monday.  The experts said currently there are only 17 inscribed world heritage sites in a region covering eight countries, four global biodiversity hotspots, and some of the world's highest and most iconic mountain ranges.  The region is also home to more than 1,000 living languages and an extraordinary diversity of cultures, they added.
"The HKH is an extraordinary region the rest of the world doesn't know enough about," said Cyril Kormos, Executive Director of Wild Heritage, while speaking about the potential of the World Heritage Convention to bring needed visibility, protection, and accountability to sites in the HKH of outstanding natural and cultural value.
The experts and policymakers came together there to revisit existing sites in the HKH, and to explore potential sites and opportunities to link sites across international borders.
The two-day meeting contributed to a comprehensive assessment report planned for the World Heritage sites of the HKH and also focused on providing guidance and clarity about the nomination process to countries interested in specific sites.
In the face of rapid global change, including climate change and large-scale infrastructure development, the Convention has been one of the most effective instruments for protecting large wilderness spaces and preserving natural capital for future generations. However, it is underutilised as a conservation instrument according to Tilman Jaeger, senior advisor at the IUCN, the official advisory body to the World Heritage Committee on natural heritage.
"The Convention is a platform for countries to go beyond business as usual to create conservation gains," Jaeger said. The protection of large intact wilderness areas is crucial to address threats to biodiversity and those posed by climate change.
Sindhu Dhungana, Joint Secretary of Nepal's Ministry of Forests and Environment, highlighted the importance of transboundary collaboration in protecting the region's heritage while promoting sustainable development.  "Although balancing the protection of a place and the sustainable use of resources comes with many challenges, these can be faced with collective action," he said.

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