An Overview of Ramsar Sites in Nepal

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The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.
Ramsar Convention
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat

Every three years, representatives of the Contracting Parties meet as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP), the policy-making organ of the Convention which adopts decisions (Resolutions and Recommendations) to administer the work of the Convention and improve the way in which the Parties are able to implement its objectives.[3] COP12 was held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in 2015. COP13 was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in October 2018.
The Upper Navua Conservation Area Ramsar Site in Fiji
Sustainable fishing in India, an example of wise use.
Contents
List of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”)

Archipel Bolama-Bijagos Ramsar Site in Guinea-Bissau
Main article: List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance

The List of Wetlands of International Importance included 2,331 Ramsar Sites in May 2018 covering over 2.1 million square kilometres (810,000 sq mi). The country with the highest number of Sites is the United Kingdom with 170, and the country with the greatest area of listed wetlands is Bolivia, with over 140,000 square kilometres (54,000 sq mi).[4]

The Ramsar Sites Information Service (RSIS) is a searchable database which provides information on each Ramsar Site. [5]
International cooperation
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Wadden Sea is a Transboundary Ramsar Site covering 13 Ramsar sites in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands
Main article: List of parties to the Ramsar Convention

As of 2016 there are 18 Transboundary Ramsar Sites, and 15 Ramsar Regional Initiatives covering regions of the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa and South America.
International organization partners
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The Ramsar Convention works closely with six other organisations known as International Organization Partners (IOPs). These are:

Birdlife International
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
Wetlands International
WWF International
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

These organizations support the work of the Convention by providing expert technical advice, helping implement field studies, and providing financial support. The IOPs also participate regularly as observers in all meetings of the Conference of the Parties and as full members of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel.
Other partners
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The Convention collaborates with a network of partners:

Biodiversity-related conventions including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the World Heritage Convention (WHC), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES);
Project funding bodies including global environmental funds, multilateral development banks and bilateral donors;
UN agencies such as UNEP, UNDP, UNESCO and the UN Economic Commission for Europe, and specific programmes such as UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme;
Non-governmental organizations including the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, the Society of Wetland Scientists, the International Association for Impact Assessment, and many others;
Since 1998 the Convention has also benefited from a strong partnership with the Danone Group including the Evian brand, and since 2007 from the Biosphere Connections partnership with the Star Alliance airline network.

Bodies established by the Convention
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Conference of contracting Parties (COP)

This is the Convention’s governing body consisting of all governments that have ratified the treaty. This ultimate authority reviews progress under the Convention, identifies new priorities, and sets work plans for members. The COP can also make amendments to the Convention, create expert advisory bodies, review progress reports by member nations, and collaborate with other international organizations and agreements.

The Standing Committee

The Standing Committee is the intersessional executive body which represents the COP between its triennial meetings, within the framework of the decisions made by the COP. The Contracting Parties that are members of the Standing Committee are elected by each meeting of the COP to serve for the three years until the next one.
The Ramsar Secretariat offices in Gland, Switzerland

The Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP)

The Scientific and Technical Review Panel provides scientific and technical guidance to the Conference of the Parties, the Standing Committee, and the Ramsar Secretariat.

The Secretariat

The Secretariat carries out the day-to-day coordination of the Convention’s activities. It is based at the headquarters of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Gland, Switzerland.

The implementation of the Ramsar Convention is a continuing partnership between the Contracting Parties, the Standing Committee, and the Convention Secretariat, with the advice of the subsidiary expert body, the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), and the support of the International Organization Partners (IOPs).

Martha Rojas Urrego is the sixth Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
World Wetlands Day
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A wetland clean-up in Oman on World Wetlands Day
Main article: World Wetlands Day

The 2nd of February each year is World Wetlands Day, marking the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971. Established to raise awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet, WWD was celebrated for the first time in 1997 and has grown remarkably since then. In 2015 World Wetlands Day was celebrated in 59 countries.
Ten wetland sites have been declared Ramsar Sites in Nepal

The following Ramsar sites were declared between 1988 and 2008:[6]

Bishazari Tal – 3,200 ha (12 sq mi)
Ghodaghodi Tal – 2,563 ha (9.90 sq mi)
Gokyo Lake Complex – 7,770 ha (30.0 sq mi)
Gosaikunda – 13.8 ha (34 acres)
Jagdishpur Reservoir – 225 ha (0.87 sq mi)
Kosi Tappu Wildlife Reserve – 17,500 ha (68 sq mi)
Mai Pokhari – 90 ha (220 acres)
Phoksundo Lake – 494 ha (1.91 sq mi)
Rara Lake – 1,583 ha (6.11 sq mi)
Lake Cluster of Pokhara Valley[8] – 178.5 km2 (68.9 sq mi)

Bishazari Tal

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Bishazari Tal, also spelled Beeshazar Tal, is an extensive oxbow lake system in the buffer zone of the Chitwan National Park, a protected area in the Inner Terai of central Nepal. This wetland covers an area of 3,200 ha (7,900 acres) at an altitude of 286 m (938 ft), and is situated between the Mahabharat mountain range (Lower Himalayan Range) to the north and the Siwalik range to the south. In August 2003, it has been designated as a Ramsar site.The Nepali words ‘bis’ (twenty), ‘hajār’ (thousand) and ‘tāl’ (lake) mean ‘20,000 lakes’.
Fauna

The forested wetland provides habitat as a waterhole and wildlife corridor for wildlife species including Bengal tiger, sloth bear, smooth-coated otter, one-horned rhinoceros, white-rumped vulture, Pallas’s fish-eagle, lesser adjutant stork, ferruginous duck and mugger crocodile.

Ghodaghodi Tal

Ghodaghodi Tal is a Ramsar site in western Nepal. Established in August 2003 it covers an area of 2,563 ha (6,330 acres) in Kailali District at an altitude of 205 m (673 ft) on the lower slopes of the Siwalik Hills. This Ramsar site consists of a system of around 13 large and shallow oxbow lakes and ponds with associated marshes and meadows. It is surrounded by tropical deciduous forest and some streams along the periphery, which are separated by hillocks.[2]
Flora

The lake has record of 388 vascular plants: five ptredophytes, 253 dicots, and 130 monocots.[3]
Fauna

The forest and wetlands serve as a wildlife corridor between the Terai lowland and the Siwalik Hills. They support critically endangered and vulnerable species including Bengal tiger, smooth-coated otter, Eurasian otter, swamp deer, lesser adjutant stork, marsh crocodile, red-crowned roofed turtle and three-striped roofed turtle.[2]

Gokyo Lakes

Gokyo Lakes are oligotrophic lakes in Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park, located at an altitude of 4,700–5,000 m (15,400–16,400 ft) above sea level. These lakes are the world’s highest freshwater lake system comprising six main lakes, of which Thonak Lake is the largest.[2] In September 2007, Gokyo and associated wetlands of 7,770 ha (30.0 sq mi) have been designated a Ramsar site.[3]
Lake system

Gokyo lakes are located in Khumjung Village Development Committee of Solukhumbu District in Sagarmatha Zone in north-eastern Nepal. Gokyo Cho, also called Dudh Pokhari, is the main lake with an area of 42.9 ha (106 acres), and the village of Gokyo lies on its eastern shore. Thonak Cho is the largest lake with an area of 65.07 ha (160.8 acres). Gyazumpa Cho is 29 ha (72 acres) in size, followed by Tanjung Cho with an area of 16.95 ha (41.9 acres), and Ngojumba Cho with an area of 14.39 ha (35.6 acres). As sources of permanent fresh water they have high hydrological value. They feed on waters from various sources, such as seepage from the Ngozumpa glacier, a stream coming from the Renjo La pass from north-west and another stream originating from the Ngozumpa glacier in the east. These are glacier-fed freshwater wetlands and discharge water to the Dudh Kosi headway via the Taujon Lake and the Longabanga Lake. These lakes are deeper than previously assumed by the researchers. Fourth Lake (Thonak Cho) is the deepest lake (62.4m) followed by the Gokyo Lake which is 43 m.[4] A direct connection between the Gokyo Lake and the upper Thonak Cho and the Ngozumpa Cho has not been observed, but these lakes may be connected via underground seepage water. The Gokyo lake system is naturally vulnerable, as it is lying in an ecologically fragile and unstable zone. The outburst of Ngozumpa glacier is always a threat to the existence of the lakes.

The Gokyo lake system of 19 lakes is spread over an area of 196.2 ha (485 acres) lying between 4,600 and 5,100 m (15,100 and 16,700 ft). The wetland lies on the head of the Dudh Kosi, which descends from Cho Oyu
Religious significance

The Gokyo Lakes are considered sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists. About 500 Hindus take a holy bath in the lakes during the Janai Purnima festival, which usually occurs in the month of August. On an average 7,000 tourists annually visit the Gokyo Lakes.[5] The site is worshipped as the residing place of ‘Nag Devata’ (Snake God); a temple of the Hindu deities Lords Vishnu and Shiva is situated at the western corner of the lake. The belief that birds and wildlife in the area should not be harmed has traditionally protected fauna.
Tourism

Gokyo is among the most popular tourist destinations leading towards the Sagarmatha base camp and other areas.[2] Gokyo village at 4,790 metres (15,720 ft) elevation is a major centre in the area. The site is two days walk uphill from Namche Bazaar.[7] A visit to the area often includes climbing Gokyo Ri.

The Gokyo Lakes are also part of an extended Everest Base Camp trek known as the EBC trek via Gokyo Lakes. This trek is commonly hiked by people with slightly more time to trek as the trail is 4 days longer than the standard EBC trek. The Gokyo Lakes trek also has the added benefit of being a circular route as opposed to the standard EBC trek which returns along the same trail.

Gosaikunda

 

Gosaikunda, also spelled Gosainkunda and Gosain Kunda is an alpine freshwater oligotrophic lake in Nepal’s Langtang National Park, located at an altitude of 4,380 m (14,370 ft) in the Rasuwa District with a surface of 13.8 ha (34 acres).Together with associated lakes, the Gosaikunda Lake complex is 1,030 ha (4.0 sq mi) in size and has been designated a Ramsar site on 29 September 2007.
Gosaikunda

The lake melts and sips down to form the Trishuli River and remains frozen for six months in winter October to June. There are 108 lakes in this area, small to medium in size. The challenging Lauribina La at an altitude of 4,610 m (15,120 ft) is on its outskirts.

Religious significance

The Gosaikunda area has been delineated as a religious site. Hindu mythology attributes Gosaikunda as the abode of the Hindu deities Shiva and Gauri. The Hindu scriptures Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata refer to Samudra manthan, which is directly related to the origin of Gosaikunda. Its waters are considered holy and of particular significance during the Gangadashahara and the Janai Purnima festivals when thousands of pilgrims from Nepal and India visit the area.[2] Gosaikunda is believed to have been created by Lord Shiva when he thrust his Trishul (holy Trident) into a mountain to extract water so that he could cool his stinging throat after he had swallowed poison.[4]
Tourism and trekking

Gosaikunda is a significant place of interest on the Dhunche-Helambu trekking route. This trek adjoins the famous Langtang Valley trek in the same district. Both treks can be combined. Basic accommodation is quite easily available. Tea houses offer a variety of food and snacks.

The trek to Gosaikunda starts in Dhunche Village or Syabru Besi in the Langtang Himal, or in Sundarijal in the Kathmandu Valley. When starting from Dhunche, the first day involves a long steady climb to reach Chandan Bari at an altitude of about 3,200 m (10,500 ft). Laurebinayak at about 3,700 m (12,100 ft) can be reached on the second day. At this point, some trekkers choose to climb ahead to Gosaikunda, though altitude sickness is a concern as the ascent is rather steep. Many trekkers choose to stay at Laurebinayak, which also provides sunset and sunrise views of the Langtang and Ganesh Himal. The descent from Gosaikund to Sundarijal  takes about four days and involves a short climb to Laurebina La at 4,610 m (15,120 ft), a rapid descent to Phedi and onwards to Ghopte. Depending on pace, there are options to stay at Thadepati, Mangengoth, Kutumsang and at many villages farther downhill. The trails are well marked, except between Ghopte and Thadepati.

Jagdishpur Reservoir

The Jagdishpur Reservoir is a reservoir in Jahadi Village Development Committee, Kapilvastu District, Nepal. With a surface area of 225 ha (556 acres), it is the largest reservoir in the country and an important wetland site.[2] It is situated at an altitude of 197 m (646 ft).[3] The maximum water depth varies between 2 m (6.6 ft) in the dry season and 7 m (23 ft) in the monsoon season.[4]The Jagdishpur Reservoir is listed on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention.[5]
History

The Jagdishpur Reservoir was constructed in the early 1970s for irrigation purposes. It is fed by a canal from the nearby Banganga River, which drains the Chure Hills. The reservoir is surrounded by cultivated land and a few smaller lakes which serve as a buffer zone for bird movement.[ In 2003, the reservoir was declared a Ramsar site.[5] Despite this, its birds and other fauna have not yet been studied in great detail
Fauna

The silt and nutrients deposited in the reservoir favour the growth of reed beds, which provide shelter for several endangered species. The habitat of the reservoir and its surroundings is important for resident, wintering and migrating wetland birds, comprising 45 different bird species.[3] Five of these are globally threatened species.[6] The surrounding cultivated land also provides habitat for a large numbers of birds. Some of the notable species documented in the area include:[4]

Asian openbill (Anastomus oscitans)
Black-winged kite (Elanus axillaris)
Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), a globally threatened species
Greater spotted eagle (Clanga clanga), a globally threatened species
Indian spotted eagle (Clanga hastata), a globally threatened species
Lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus), a globally threatened species
Long-tailed shrike (Lanius schach tricolor)
Oriental darter (Anhinga melanogaster)
Pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
Red-wattled lapwing (Vanellus indicus)
Ruddy kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda)
Sarus crane (Grus antigone), a globally threatened species
Slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris), a globally threatened species
Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata), a globally threatened species
White-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis), a globally threatened species
Woolly-necked stork (Ciconia episcopus), a globally threatened species

Also 18 species of fish, nine of herpetofauna and six mammalian species have been documented in and around the reservoir.[3]

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

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The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is a protected area in the Terai of eastern Nepal covering 175 km2 (68 sq mi) of wetlands in the Sunsari, Saptari and Udayapur Districts. It comprises extensive mudflats, reed beds, and freshwater marshes in the floodplain of the Sapta Kosi River, and ranges in altitude from 75 to 81 m (246 to 266 ft). It was established in 1976 and designated as a Ramsar site in December 1987.[2]
History

During 1997 to 1998, an interview survey was conducted in the Paschim Kasuha VDC adjacent to the east of the reserve to investigate the extent of park–people conflict. The findings showed that wild water buffalo and wild boar were major crop raiders between September and February. Large numbers of cattle were found grazing freely inside the reserve. Local people are responsible for illegal utilization of forest products, poaching and river fishing inside the reserve.[3]

In 2005, the reserve together with the Koshi Barrage was identified as one of 27 Important Bird Areas of Nepal.[4]
Vegetation
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The vegetation of the reserve is mainly characterised by mixed deciduous riverine forest, grasslands and marshy vegetation. The coverage of grasslands is 68%, compared to only about 6% of forest, which is predominated by Indian rosewood. Patches of catechu forest are more prevalent towards the northwestern part. The grasslands near the running water bodies are maintained by the annual flooding and grazing by wildlife.[5] The Sapta Koshi River, a tributary of the Ganges, causes rapid and intense flooding during the rainy season. In the extensive wetlands, 514 plant species are found including kapok, sugarcane, reed, cattail, Imperata cylindrica, eel grass, and species of Eichhornia, Hydrilla, Azolla and lotus.[2]
Fauna
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A wide range of animals inhabit the protected area. In its water courses and ponds, 200 species of fish have been recorded, most of which are resident. Two toad species, nine frog species, six lizard species, five snake species and eleven turtle species are recorded.[2] Gharial and mugger crocodile occur as well.[5]
Mammals
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The 31 species of mammals recorded include the Asian elephant, spotted deer, hog deer, wild boar, smooth-coated otter and golden jackal. The Ganges river dolphin has been sighted in the Koshi River. Gaur and blue bull have declined in numbers.[2] Nepal’s last remaining population of about 150 wild water buffalo inhabit the area.[5] This population has now grown to a total of 432 individuals with an annual growth rate of 7.27 percent, according to the latest census carried out in 2016.[6] With this upsurge in the population, authorities are planning a possible transfer of some wild water buffaloes to the flood plains of Chitwan National Park where they have been extirpated around 1950’s.[7] If the proposed translocation happens, this will present a natural Predator-Prey scenario since wild water buffaloes in Koshi Tappu has been lacking their natural predators in the form of tiger, leopard and dhole for quite a long time.
Birds
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Notable among the 485 bird species are watercock, Indian nightjar, dusky eagleowl, black-headed cuckooshrike, whitetailed stonechat, striated grassbird, large adjutant stork, Pallas’s fish eagle, common golden-eye, and gullbilled tern.[2] Swamp francolin and rufous-vented grass babbler occur as well.[5]

In spring 2011, 17 Bengal floricans were recorded from nine different sites along a 39 km (24 mi) north-south stretch of the Koshi River. Seven were males and 10 were females. Only five individuals were recorded outside the reserve, two pairs north of Koshi Tappu, and one female seen twice near the Koshi Barrage area.[8]

Mai Pokhari

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Mai Pokhari is a wetland in Ilam District of Nepal that was designated a Ramsar site on 28 October 2008.[2] It is a pilgrimage center for both Hindus and Buddhists. The lake within the wetland which reflects emerald waters has a circumference of about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) and boats are operated. On the periphery of the lake there is the Maipokhari Botanical Garden of horticultural and ecological importance which houses a rock garden, an orchid house, plants collected from many regions of eastern Nepal, and a green house.[3][4]
Mai Pokhari
Mai Pokhari(2).JPG
Mai Pokhari wetland
Location
Ilam District, Nepal
Coordinates
27°0′25″N 87°55′48″E
Area
90 ha (220 acres)
Established
October 2008
Ramsar Wetland
Designated
20 October 2008
Reference no.
1850[1]
Contents
Geography
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View of the lake in Mai Pokhari

The wetland is in the middle hill ranges of the Himalayas at an elevation of about 2,100 m (6,900 ft) and covers an area of 90 ha (220 acres).[2] It is about 15 km (9.3 mi) to the north of Ilam.[5]

The wetland has been created due to ground subsidence.[6] The source of water in the wetland is from natural springs and precipitation. It is the main source of fresh water for local people.[7]
Flora and fauna
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Goldfish

The wetland’s flora consists of Schima, Castanopsis, laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia) and epiphytic orchids.[2] Water lilly, cone trees, rhododendrons, and herbal plants also occur.[3]

Faunal species include white-rumped vulture, leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), Eurasian otter (Lutra Lutra), and endemic Variegated mountain lizard (Japalura variegata). Invasion of gold fish (Carassius auratus) has adversely affected the indigenous fauna.[2] There are also 300 species of birds recorded in the wetland.[3]

The wetlands’s lentic environment of bottom-fauna is in its natural status with a stratification of abundant Chironomids.[5]
Threats
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The threats faced by the wetland relate to introduced invasive species, occupation of forest area, haphazard construction activity, proliferation of human settlement on the tracks leading to the wetland.[7] Other threats identified are the use of pesticides in tea plantation in the watershed, and loss of habitat on account of growing crops such as cardamom, bouquet grass, and horticulture activities on the slopes of the wetland.[8]
Conservation
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In order to promote conservation awareness among the stake holders and the local people, measures undertaken have included establishing a Code of Conduct, monitoring of water quality and key species, and instituting a Management Plan on the basis of ecological and socio-cultural studies. “Apart from the local community agencies involved with this work are the Ilam District Forest Office, the Ilam District Development Committee, the Department of Forests, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, local eco-clubs of local students, local conservation centers and specialists”.[7] Under the Ramsar Small Grants Fund Portfolio 2014, a sustainable biodiversity conservation project has been initiated to highlight the wetlands and ecosystem, evolve a management plan, and better interaction with the Community Forest User Groups at site by way of organizing workshops, capacity building for management, create biodiversity portfolios, publication of posters and related literature to educate students and the visiting community.[9]

Phoksundo Lake

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Phoksundo Lake, (Nepali: फोक्सुण्डो ताल, NLK Phoksuṇḍo tāl), is an alpine fresh water oligotrophic lake in Nepal’s Shey Phoksundo National Park, located at an elevation of 3,611.5 m (11,849 ft) above sea level in the Dolpa District. Phoksundo Lake is 494 ha (1.91 sq mi) in size with a water volume of 409,000,000 m3 (1.44×1010 cu ft) and a discharge of 3.715 m3/s (131.2 cu ft/s).[2] In 2004, a survey by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology measured the maximum depth of the lake at 145 m (476 ft).[3]
Phoksundo Lake
Panorama phoksumdo lake from camp.jpg
Location
Dolpa District, Nepal
Coordinates
29°12′30″N 82°57′30″E
Basin countries
Nepal
Max. length
5.15 km (3.20 mi)
Max. width
800 m (2,600 ft)
Surface area
494 ha (1.91 sq mi)
Max. depth
145 m (476 ft)
Water volume
409×106 m3 (14.4×109 cu ft)
Surface elevation
3,612 m (11,850 ft)
Ramsar Wetland
Designated
23 September 2007
Reference no.
1694[1]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Phoksundo Lake.

In September 2007, Phoksundo Lake has been designated a Ramsar site.[4]

On the lake’ southern end, the village of Ringmo sits on the 30,000- to 40,000-year-old landslide dam that formed the lake.[5] Past the dam, the waters of the lake plunge over a 167 m (548 ft) tall waterfall.
Lake Phoksundo located in Dolpo, Nepal
Religious significance
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There are more than 20 stupas in the southern belt, and one gompa in the eastern side of the lake, where annual prayers and worship are carried out. Traditional Tibetan culture prevails in upper Dolpo; Buddhism and Bon are prevalent in lower Dolpo, including Ringmo village.[2]

Rara Lake

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Rara Lake (Nepali: रारा ताल) is the biggest and deepest fresh water lake in the Nepal Himalayas. It is the main feature of Rara National Park, located in Jumla and Mugu Districts.[1] In September 2007, it was declared a Ramsar site, covering 1,583 ha (6.11 sq mi) including the surrounding wetland.[3]

Rara Lake lies at an altitude of 2,990 m (9,810 ft) above sea level, has a water surface of 10.8 km2 (4.2 sq mi), a maximum depth of 167 m (548 ft), is 5.1 km (3.2 mi) long and 2.7 km (1.7 mi) wide. It drains into the Mugu Karnali River via the Nijar River.[4] Its water quality is characterized by high pH, conductivity and total hardness. It has been classified as oligotrophic as it is slightly polluted.[5]
Climate
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Summer is quite pleasant but winter is cold. The best visiting time to the lake is September/October and April to May. From December to March, the temperatures go low below the freezing point, and heavy snowfall occur up to one meter, blocking the way to the lake. April to June is warm in this region.[6]

Monsoon season, which in this region occurs between the months of July to October, is short. The average rainfall during the ten-year period 1994–2003 was 800 mm. The surface temperature of the lake was found to be 7.5 °C to 7.6 °C and was visible below 14 m to 15 m.[5]
Socio-cultural and religious values

The main occupation of the people living around the area is agriculture. People also rear goats and extract medicinal herbs and sell them for their living. Thakur society is dominant in the community. Thakur Baba’s Temple is situated in the southeast corner of the lake. Local people believe that the god Thakur shot an arrow to open the passage of the lake reducing the damage caused by flooding.[4]

Problems: Due to over-grazing and defecation, the national park conservation officers are facing a challenge to preserve the lake. Local people are found cutting timber wood and fuel wood, which is a problem for conservation of Rara. Also during festivals visitors and local people produce a lot of wastage causing water pollution.[4]
Plant and animal life

Rara Lake, being surrounded by Rara National Park, has unique floral and faunal importance with rare and vulnerable species. The park was established in 1976 to preserve the beauty of the lake and protect it from sedimentation and adverse human activities. The Park flora consists of 1074 species, of which 16 are endemic to Nepal; the fauna includes 51 species of mammals and 214 species of birds

The lake holds three endemic fish species Nepalese snowtrout (Schizothorax macrophthalmus), (S. nepalensis) and the Rara snowtrout (S. raraensis) and one endemic frog, Rara Lake frog (Nanorana rarica). Winter visitor water birds such as gadwall (Anas strepera), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), common teal (Anas crecca), tufted duck (Aythya fuligula), common golden eye (Bucephala clangula), common merganser (Mergus merganser), common coot (Fulica atra), and solitary snipe (Gallinago solitaria) reside and rest at this lake
Transport

Air is the only mode of transportation for the tourists visiting the Rara Lake. Rara Lake is served by Talcha Airport, which is 4 km east of the lake. Nepal Airlines and Tara Air operate flights to Rara from Nepalgunj. It takes approx 2 hours to reach Rara Lake from the airport on foot.
Tourism

Rara lake has been a popular destination with a very rough route in Western Nepal for trekkers. The glimpses of culture and scenery on the way is quite different from the rest of Nepal. Situated in high altitude, you can find the lake surrounded by Rara National Park with pine, spruce and juniper forest. The view of snow-capped Himalayan peaks enhance the attraction of trekkers. The trek begins with flight to Jumla (over an hour flight from Kathmandu) or from nearer Nepalgunj. Going along the mountain path and some villages one can reach the bank of Rara lake.[citation needed]

A travel writer describes his trek to Rara:

Although more trampled than in the past, the road to Rara Lake is still without any of the comfortable services available along more popular trails. Logistically it is not an easy trek; it is hard to get to and from, and it is an organizational challenge, requiring informed guides and porters to tote the two weeks’ worth of material that will keep you warm, dry and fed. It is also tough on the bones, involving several 11,000-foot passes. However, once you overcome the obstacles, the rewards are legion: few if any other trekkers, incomparable natural splendor, “untouched” villages, blissful quiet.…[8]

Rara Lake as described by GORP founder Bill Greer: “a shimmering blue jewel set in a ring of snowy peaks”.[8]

Trekkers are recommended to bring their own first aid kit due to the lack of health services around the area. Since there are no accommodation facilities they may need help from a travel agency. Trekkers need to be self-sufficient as the facilities are not adequate.[6]

Rara Lake as described by Mark Drett:

“Since the interval of 10 years, I visited again. Before 10 years, we needed to walk 19 days to get there but that has been reduced to 10 hours of gravel road and 4 hours of walk. Not expected but great change. When you get there, you will get the reward for 4 hour long walk.”

Rara can be the next major place for tourists to visit. During 1997–1998 the number of tourists visiting to this place was found to be 560, but in 2007 it decreased to 87 individuals. Rara Festival was conducted by the Nepal Tourism Board in early 2007 to promote domestic and international visit.

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