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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

JaibikMap: Nepal's biodiversity and climate change tool for the future

PI: Menaka Panta (, International Union for Conservation of Nature - Nepal
U.S. Partner: Walter Jetz, Yale University
Project Dates: December 2016 - February 2019

Project Overview:

Nepal, a small, landlocked country in the Himalayan region, boasts an astonishing variety of floral and faunal species due to the diversity of its topography and habitat types. Nepal’s biodiversity is declining due to anthropological stressors, including rapid growth in human population and settlements and human-wildlife conflict; however, the greatest risk to Nepal’s biodiversity lies in a lack of spatially and temporally-sensitive data that reflect potential future changes in habitat composition and distribution due to climate change. Barriers to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information have led to uninformed development, impacting livelihoods.

This PEER project aims to fill existing and future gaps in knowledge supporting the developmental phase of JaibikMap, an interactive, open data, free web-based mapping tool that contains detailed data for addressing conservation and development challenges. The tool will be built on a scalable platform to accommodate additional data layers in the future. Addressing research gaps, project partners will conduct a nationwide study of forest change under different climate change scenarios and then apply these findings to species distribution models predicting shifts in habitats. Furthermore, a mobile application will be developed allowing anyone to upload photos and GPS coordinates to the JaibikMap repository taken during opportunistic sightings of mammal species.

Summary of Recent Events

This project has come to an end. The PI reports that they accomplished most of the project activities which started with data collection and organization of mammalian data as occurrence point for 75 species provided by the DNPWC, its own field offices and networks. Besides, various secondary sources like online data portal, websites, published books, thesis and papers, grey and white literatures, personal network, digitization and geo-referencing process were also used to collect desire additional points. Similarly, various types of spatial layers like Red list series, Protected Areas (NPs/WLR, Buffer zones), LULC, Road, River and Settlement, New administrative boundaries, Vegetation composition, cover/types, and other required information were collected either from government offices or from personal networks.

The 168 mammalian species profiles were compiled and updated with current distribution, status, and habitat requirements in Nepal. Similarly, IUCN jointly with KLL analyzed the habitat distribution of selected species using Species Distribution Model (SDM). Occurrence points (GPS coordinates), climatic data layers (obtained from DHM and downloaded from Worldclim both) with slope, aspect and elevation were used as basic inputs variables in modeling. SDM was implied in BIOMOD2 package in R by selecting correlative technique to identify the
current habitat distribution of each species. Similarly, future prediction of the suitable habitat distribution of same species was projected under RCP 4.5 & 8.5 for the years 2050/70. Finally, modeling outputs of 75 mammalians (based on available GPS point) species with current and future predicted suitable habitat distribution obtained. Later, outputs were translated, merged and overlaid into GIS/other form as required for map system. Similarly, same team also classified the 24 Holdridge Life Zones (HLZ) for Nepal based on Holdridge, 1967 as per plan and projected under RCP 4.5 & 8.5 using Worldclim data sets for the same years 2050/70. The climatic data sets of Worldclim from 1950-2000 was considered as current in both models (SDM and HLZ modeling). Later, outputs were further translated into GIS, merged/clipped the 75 SDM outputs with HLZs and HLZs with forest cover/types of Nepal (DPR@2007). Finally, two categories of model outputs namely selected species distribution modeling outputs with 24 HLZs and 24 HLZs with forest cover and types of Nepal were produced from this study.

Serving the massive amount of geospatial data seamlessly through web and mobile was a major technical challenge of this project; however KLL developed Interactive Map and Website after having a number of meetings, workshops, seminars and discussion with relevant stakeholders through requirement analysis for system architect, construction, quality control and deployment purpose. Likewise, systems were tested and validated through various methods including user acceptance and training and hosting in KLL website for the time being as Demo.

In addition to the National Distribution map, a global distribution map was added in the form of a Map of Life iframe and incorporated a global distribution section in mammal details view and also highlighted the selected species. Project Fact sheet, Mammalian profile, some video and project technical report were prepared (some of them are finalized while other are in the process) so that these material will be published in partner websites and IUCN regional/HQ websites after completion of the official process. NEFEJ has disseminated project information among public via NEFEJ media outlet in 2018. Other media outlets like Himalaya Times, Kantipur and Gorkhapatra Ratriya Dainik also disseminated project outputs in due course. Comprehensive project report especially updated mammalian profile of 168 species is being publishing soon; required materials will be submitted in USAID’s Development Data Library soon after completing the necessary official process. Similarly, Project PI including other research team members pursued opportunities and participated and shared research outputs in few national/international workshops (Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, India, UK, and Belgium). 4 manuscripts as part of JaibikMap research are under preparation and will be submitted in scholar journal throughout the year.

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