NATURE, WILDLIFE & CLIMATE CHANGE


Under this thematic area, our main thrust is on:

a) Himalayan Wildlife & Environment Protection,
b) Climate Mitigation & Adaptation
c) Water & Wetlands.

National Development Foundation, NDF aims to work with many stakeholders to conserve and protect Himalayan Wildlife and critical ecosystems for continued social, economic and environmental benefits. In addition, we work on various climate mitigation and adaptation strategies to reduce climate change's impacts. NDF also aims to document wetlands and wetland biodiversity of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh through on-the-ground research and citizen science initiatives. To achieve the overall objectives, we aim to work closely with communities, several leading scientists, conservationists, educators & experts from varied professional backgrounds with a passion for the conservation of nature and natural resources.

Currently, NDF is implementing a three-year wildlife research project on “Preparation of PRI based geo-referenced Biodiversity assessment, documentation and conservation plan of wild flora and fauna of Kishtwar High Altitude National Park (KHANP)”. NDF is implementing this project with the support of our partners, including consultants and Universities. The key focus of this project is to document the biodiversity values and ecosystem services of Kishtwar High Altitude National Park and design strategies for its conservation.

Kishtwar High Altitude National Park in North West Himalayan Bio-geographic Zone is an important wildlife site in Kishtwar district of the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, named after the district headquarters, located about 60 km north-east of this township. The park was primarily established to protect Snow Leopard (Unica unica), Kashmir deer (Cervus hanglu hanglu) and other threatened wildlife species.

The park has protected area status under category II of IUCN, 1994 and 1999. It means "large natural areas set aside to protect largescale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible, spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.”The terrain is generally rugged and steep, with narrow valleys bounded by high ridges opening in their upper glacial parts. The area lies in the central crystalline belt of the Great Himalayas. Rocks are strongly folded in places and composed mainly of granite, gneiss and schist, with the occasional marble bed. The shallow, slightly alkaline soils are mostly alluvial with gravel deposits.

Nestled between the Himalayan mountain ranges, the Park is around 230 Km from Jammu. The altitude of the KHANP ranges from 2,300 to 6,000 m above MSL. The area got declared as a National Park vide Notification no. 20/FST of 1980-81 dated 04.01.1981. It is very well known for the unique assemblage of flora and fauna contained within. It also is the only known habitat of the Snow Leopard in the Jammu region. The National Park reportedly possesses a viable population of Snow Leopard and its prey species. The entire tract of National Park is exceptionally mountainous, bearing very steep slopes pierced by deep valleys. Due to glacial and reverie erosion since time immemorial, the whole surface area of the tract is deeply serrated in all possible directions with varying degrees of slope. It results in a landmass of various aspects.

The National Park is gifted with numerous perennial streams, nallas, ponds, springs and glaciers. Because of these, the water supply is adequate throughout the year. The key glacier in the area is Brahma Glacier, about 18 km long, beside the Metwan Glacier. In addition, numerous small streams drain into Renai, Kiyar, Nanth and Kibber Nallas. These independently drain into river Marwah, which joins river Chanderbhaga at Bhandarkoot and forms river Chenab.

This ongoing multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral study at Kishtwar High Altitude National Park will provide new insights into the past and present human-environment interactions in the areas described above of the park. Once completed, the study will have tremendous long-term conservation implications. The satellite data in conjugation with biological, hydrological, and socioeconomic data would help understand some ongoing issues such as different habitat dynamics and extreme climatic events. This study will thus help produce recommendations and conservation action plans for the park in general and specific species and critical habitats. In addition, it will aid policy for biological conservation and long-term adaptation to climate change for indigenous pastoral communities.

The field team, including field researchers, are based at a research station at Lowarna village just outside the Kishtwar High Altitude National Park. NDF has established this station to conduct all research activities inside the National Park smoothly. The team uses the latest technologies like Camera Traps and Drones to document wildlife in the challenging terrains of the National Park.

The research work is being simultaneously conducted on the following components of the project :

  • Survey (for occurrence, occupancy and density) and documentation of Hangul, Snow Leopard, Brown bear, Black bear, Musk Deer, Himalayan Tahr, and other large mammals in KHANP.
  • Survey (for occurrence, occupancy and density) and documentation of pheasants, vultures and other avifauna in KHAP and their ecological significance.
  • Study and documentation of Hangul corridor with Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Study and documentation of Assessment and mitigation of Human-Wild Animal conflict in and around KHANP.
  • Impact of livestock grazing on KHANP landscape and wildlife.
  • GIS-based land use and ecosystem resource mapping.
  • Survey (for occurrence, occupancy and density) and documentation of flora, grazing and medicinal plant resources and their ecological importance.
  • Survey (for occurrence, occupancy and density) and documentation of butterfly and other insect populations.
  • Survey (for occurrence, occupancy and density) and documentation of aquatic flora and fauna and their ecological significance.
  • Study of sociology of Nomadism and its impact on rangelands and KHANP landscape.
  • Pest and disease monitoring in the wildlife of KHANP.
  • Study and documentation of ecosystem services provided by KHANP.
  • Study and documentation of climate change impact on KHANP ecology and adaptation & mitigation plan.
  • Survey and documentation of micro biodiversity hotspots and species-specific conservation and revival plan.
  • Assessment and recommendation of infrastructure requirements for frontline staff (guard huts, check posts, offices for Range officer and below and forest protection equipment).
  • Assessment and recommendation of technological intervention for biodiversity conservation and management and capacity building of frontline staff.
  • Assessment and recommendation for promotion of environmental awareness.
  • Assessment, evaluation and integration of ongoing conservation and management intervention.
  • Study and documentation of discharge of important stream / Nallahs and watersheds.
  • Preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) for Kishtwar High Altitude National Park biodiversity conservation and management plan.