Preserving Biodiversity - A Development Potential for Nepal's Small-scale Farming Culture

Nepal is arguably the richest country on Earth in terms of plant species diversity. The diverse climatic zones extend from around 300 meters to high alpine regions, resulting in an incredibly rich biodiversity in the Nepalese Himalayas. This is the country's greatest wealth.

For centuries, small-scale farmers have been cultivating numerous rice varieties in various altitudes. From region to region, climate-adapted rice varieties have evolved through centuries of small-scale farming practices, becoming one of the most important rice gene pools on Earth. Unfortunately, this rich diversity of rice varieties has been largely replaced by conventional cultivation and standardized rice varieties.

Uncontrolled population growth has led to the conversion of large natural forest areas into small-scale agricultural land. This has put immense pressure on various forest plant species, driven by poverty.

In southern Nepal, 400 million middle-class Indians demand ayurvedic raw materials for consumption purposes. Indian traders annually purchase enormous quantities of wild-collected raw materials from Nepalese traders, who urge the Nepalese rural population to engage in exploitative harvesting in native forests. This uncontrolled wild collection is causing the destruction of numerous native plant and herb species without considering the future. Indigenous medicinal plant species, particularly those used in Ayurveda, are being affected, as well as plants from special high-altitude regions.

Ayurveda utilizes approximately 1,250 plant species, of which 400 species are commonly used. Sadly, over 200 species are now threatened. While some species are protected, poverty-driven exploitation continues unabated, exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Changing rainfall patterns and increased precipitation further contribute to erosion damage.

In short, the biodiversity of the Nepalese Himalayas is highly threatened by population growth, poverty, conventional agricultural practices, and climate change.

Within the development projects of OneWorld a learning center, large biodiversity zones are being established, where the rich biodiversity of the Himalayas is protected through the economic progress of the local small-scale farming communities.

Forest areas are being transformed into sustainable wild collection zones, and agricultural lands are being converted to Demeter (organic) cultivation and internationally recognized certified. By marketing high-quality products in Western organic markets, small-scale farmers can achieve healthy incomes, improve their nutrition, and break free from poverty. Thus, poverty-driven exploiters become committed environmentalists who preserve their resources for future generations and take pride in doing so. This is the only truly effective way to preserve biodiversity in nature itself.

Organic Cultivation in Chepang - Project in collaboration with the German Welthungerhilfe e.V.

This project focuses on reforestation with Demeter (organic) cultivation to ensure food security and generate income for the endangered Chepang tribe.