Current Context: 

At a recent biodiversity meeting in Kathmandu, 130 international scientists designated the Hindu Kush Himalayas a biosphere on the verge of collapse.

About current context: 

  • The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has issued a statement urging for decisive action and financial assistance to address the region’s severe loss of nature and habitat.
  • The Hindu Kush Himalayas, spanning eight countries and 3,500 kilometers, is home to four of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots, two ecoregions, 575 protected areas, and 335 important bird areas.

About Hindu kush Himalaya:

  • The Hindu Kush is a vast Central Asian Mountain system, spanning 500 miles long and 150 miles wide.
  • The range, located near the border of China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, forms the western section of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region.
  • The Tirich Mir or Terichmir, located in Chitral, Pakistan, is the highest point in the range, standing at 7,708 meters.
  • The Hindu Kush, also known as the Bābā Mountains, is divided into three main sections: eastern, central, and western.
  • The inner valleys of the Hindu Kush experience minimal rainfall and are characterized by desert vegetation.

Biodiversity of Hindu Kush Himalaya 

  • The Hindu Kush Himalayas is a global biodiversity hotspot, boasting a diverse array of flora and fauna.
  • The region, encompassing over 240 million people, has 1.7 billion inhabitants in its downstream river basins, and food produced in these basins serves three billion people.
  • The region’s glaciers support at least 10 major river systems, impacting agricultural activities, drinking water, and hydroelectricity production.

Geology and Climate of Hindu Kush Himalayas

  • The Hindu Kush and Pamirs are the world’s most seismically active intermediate-depth earthquake zone.
  • Swat Kohistan’s mountains are influenced by summer monsoon winds, with the eastern Hindu Kush and Hindu Raj rising at the western limit of monsoonal Asia.
  • The Hindu Kush region experiences rainy or snowy summers and dry winters, while the central and western areas border the Mediterranean climatic zone, characterized by hot, dry summers and cold winters.

The convergence of multiple threats is a significant issue.

  • Climate Change: Rising temperatures are melting glaciers, threatening water security for downstream populations, while erratic weather patterns exacerbate floods, droughts, and landslides, affecting agriculture and livelihoods.
  • Unsustainable Practices: Deforestation, overgrazing, and mining cause landscape degradation, soil erosion, habitat loss, biodiversity decline, and invasive species disrupt ecological balance.
  • Infrastructure Development: Unplanned projects fragment habitats and disrupt wildlife corridors, further jeopardizing biodiversity and ecosystem services.


  • Water Scarcity: The rising glaciers and erratic precipitation pose a significant threat to the water security of billions downstream, affecting agriculture, hydropower, and sanitation.
  • Food Insecurity: Degraded lands and changing weather patterns reduce agricultural productivity, jeopardizing food security for mountain communities and downstream populations.
  • Livelihood Loss: Communities dependent on natural resources like tourism and traditional medicines face livelihood threats due to environmental degradation.
  • Increased Disaster Risk: Climate change-induced extremes exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, displacing communities, and hindering development.

Way Forward:

  • International Cooperation: Fostering collaborative efforts across the eight nations is crucial for resource management, knowledge sharing, and joint mitigation strategies.
  • Climate Action: Implementing ambitious climate mitigation and adaptation measures is key to addressing the root cause of environmental degradation.
  • Sustainable Development: Promoting sustainable practices like agroforestry, community-based resource management, and eco-tourism can balance economic development with environmental protection.
  • Investing in Restoration: Large-scale restoration initiatives for forests, grasslands, and wetlands are key to restoring ecological balance and enhancing resilience.
  • Community Empowerment: Engaging local communities in decision-making, capacity building, and knowledge exchange is crucial for sustainable resource management and fostering a sense of ownership.

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