The lakes are a very important natural heritage from diverse perspectives like the water cycle, biological diversity, economic and social fame, tourism, and biogeochemical cycle. Moreover, history reveals that the development of human civilizations is closely related to lakes and adjacent water resources. Lakes provide the services for basic of life ranging from food such as fish, fruits and vegetables, fodder, and water to medicinal and decorative plants. In addition, lakes/wetlands are also important for religious and spiritual values, as they are the sacred place for festivals, sports, beauty and recreational activities, and a source of pleasure.
Often known as kidneys of the mother earth, lakes and wetlands constitute important habitat and food resources for a diverse array of fish, birds, aquatic life, and wildlife. Lakes are highly valued for a lacustrine deposit, pollination, water reuse, and purification. In addition, Lakes/wetlands harmonize temperature, precipitation, and absorbing greenhouse gases to moderate climate change, accumulate water, soil, and nutrient for agriculture, and manage floods, drought, and landslides to control natural disasters and play a significant role to maintain and balance the ecological system. However, such an important ecosystem has been deteriorating day by day due to both natural and anthropogenic causes. Climate change, outbursts of lakes due to landslides and siltation, and watershed dried out are some natural factors whereas encroachment, overexploitation, and unplanned land use are anthropogenic causes of the degradation of the lakes which in turn disrupt the entire ecosystem.
For a geographically diverse and agriculturally engaging nation like Nepal, conservation and sustainable management of lakes are very important, and realizing the need for an apex body dedicated to the conservation and management of lakes in Nepal, the Government of Nepal established National Lake Conservation Development Committee (NLCDC) in 2007.
NLCDC is entrusted with the responsibilities of initiating, coordinating, and furthering conservation activities in consultation with the Ministry of Forests and Environment and other federal and state line ministries and local governments for the protection, conservation, and utilization of wetlands and lakes throughout the country. NLCDC also joins hands with conservation partners, academic institutions, NGOs, lake conservation users committees, and local people leaving one behind in sustainable conservation and wise use of lake resources.
Why it is important to protect the lakes and wetlands of Nepal?
Lakes are the part of the historic and social landscape of the region for many centuries, delivering water-related needs to the community not just for household requirements but also for livelihood purposes on one hand, and on the other hand, they provide habitat to the flora and fauna. As a common resource, the conservation of lakes and wetlands is vital for the environmental and ecological balance, and socio-economic growth of the entire community. It is crucial to conserve lakes and wetlands as:
- 13 percent of the Nepali ethnic population are dependent on lakes and wetlands for their livelihood,
- they are an important part of the ecosystem that regulates water and have a unique role in maintaining the food chain,
- some of them have invaluable cultural, religious, and historical importance as well as aesthetic values and they serve as important tourism destinations,
- they provide habitat to endemic, threatened or endangered floral and faunal species,
- they act as flood busters greatly reducing flood damage and maintaining surface water flow during the dry season,
- they not only serve local needs like water and food but also recharge groundwater and support local springs.
NLCDC is entirely dedicated to sustainable management of lakes and wetlands of Nepal in a broader perspective of environmental management through conservation, development, expansion, adornment, and promotion of entire lakes and wetlands. It also gives related policy advice on program planning and implementation to the GoN.