Nepal is a small country, covering only 0.09% of the Earth’s land surface, but it is very important to global conservation as it is at the heart of the Himalayan Region - one of the world’s top 20 hottest global biodiversity hotspots, and the many and varied habitats support a great diversity of living organisms. It is estimated that 7000 higher plant species occur in Nepal, with some 300 of these only found in (endemic to) Nepal. Nine species of flowering plants are now suspected to be extinct in Nepal, eight of these were endemic species (Shrestha & Joshi, 1996).
Much of the loss of habitats occurred over a thirty-year period (1950-1980) when there were little controls on development. However, Government of Nepal is now fully committed to conservation and legislation is in place to help combat problems and Nepal is actively addressing its obligations as a signatory to the CBD. Implementing conservation measures is not easy in rural areas where the land and surrounding forest are used for subsistence, and it is recognised that long term solutions must also include elements of poverty alleviation and sustainable development. However, there have already been some successes, as a good network of protected areas has been established, and there is evidence that the extent and quality of forest cover has increased since 1980. The NBS concludes that “despite the conservation benefit provided by the PAs [protected areas] network, biodiversity loss in Nepal continues unabated." The most critical threats to conservation is deforestation, habitat destruction and unsustainable harvesting of wild populations.