Lake Cluster Pokhara Valley (LCPV) stands for the basin dynamics of nine lakes of Pokhara valley at the central section of Lower Himalaya (28°08’02” N 84°59’18” E) in Pokhara-Lekhnath Metropoli (Kaski district, Western Development Region), Nepal. Those lakes are Phewa; Kamalpokhari; Gunde; Khaste; Neureni; Dipang; Maidi; Begnas and Rupa, which together has 261.6 sq. km of basin and 8.97 sq. km of water cover. Phewa is the 2nd largest lake of Nepal, and the largest in cluster. All lakes are subsurface drainage type. Phewa is meso-eutrophic; Begans oligo-mesotrophic; Rupa eutrophic; and other lakes eutrophic. An entire lake basin falls now under.
LCPV is rich in biodiversity. It holds 362 species of plants which include 286 species of terrestrial plants. Most outstandingly, the cluster hosts varieties of globally threatened migratory birds such as the Critically Endangered the Baer’s Pochard and Indian Vulture, and mammals like Vulnerable clouded leopard and Endangered Indian Pangolin. Many new records such as Dischidia bengalensis from Raniban and Harpan and Phreatia elegans from Chapakot are of additional significance. Glamorous view of Annapurna & Manaslu Himalayan Range; green mountains; unique valley landscape; and cultural diversities make LCPV one of the world’s top 10th tourism destinations. In view of these salient features, the Ramsar Secretariat certified LCPV as Nepal’s 10th Ramsar site in 2016.
Lake cluster provides different ecosystem services to humankind including income opportunities for many such as trade and business communities. Drinking water for humans, livestock and biodiversity, navigation; fishery; irrigation; hydropower and so on are direct benefits from lakes. Further, it holds remarkable recreational, religious, spiritual and inspirational services to the local inhabitants and visitors. The Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) mechanism is also practiced in the LCPV, for example, the RLRFC has been providing grants to 21 CF user groups and 19 schools under PES project, and Hotel Association in Phewa has initiated providing incentives to upstream communities worth Rs. 3.2 million in 2016.
Lake environment is degrading faster. The major drivers for this degradation include policy overlapping; institutional unclarity; weak wetlands governance; weak technical capacity of line agencies & communities; weak Knowledge Management Mechanism and fluid politics. Further, other proximate threats include land conversion, reclamation and encroachment; sedimentation & siltation; pollution & eutrophication; invasion by alien species; overharvesting of fishes and illegal poaching. These threats have increased management task in the emerging context of socio-economic challenges such as changing of demographic features; changing farming practices; outmigration of youth; growing real estate business etc.
Recently, Government of Nepal in support of USAID/Hariyoban Program and technical assistance of CODEFUND developed Integrated Lake Basin Plan of LCPVwith a vision of Socio-ecological integrity of Lake Cluster Pokhara Valley for the long-term prosperity. The Plan constitutes 6 Thematic Areas which are constructed in view of strengthening lake basin governance for the prosperity based on Integrated Lake Basin Management (ILBM) approaches.
Now, next step is to endorse this plan from the government, which will establish lake basin governance the first time in Nepal to implement the Ramsar provision towards wetlands based socio-ecological prosperity.
CODEFUND looks forward to any environmental entities to collaborate in implementing the Plan.