Annapurna Area

Strengthening Indigenous leadership in the Annapurna Area

Image focuses on four people, dressed in traditional outfits, holding a banner with group of people following them fading out in the background.
Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN)

In the Annapurna Area of Nepal, NEFIN aims to strengthen Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPs and LCs) governance structures, preserve cultural sites, and raise awareness on the importance of the contributions of IPs and LCs to conservation and to generating global environmental benefits. 

Under this initiative, ICI aims to improve the management of 381,450 hectares in Nepal, engaging 25,000 direct project stakeholders.


Enhance capacities of local and customary institutions and individuals of IP and LCs for better rights-based advocacy and governance of natural resources management, biodiversity conservation and climate change pertaining to global environment benefits

Conduct training on environment and social safeguards, understanding the rights of Indigenous peoples, FPIC processes, and how rights need to be advocated both nationally and internationally to ensure these safeguards are in place to protect their knowledge, traditions, practices and not displace them in the name of development and conservation Engage in dialogues with national policy-makers on issues of rights to land, territories and resources, its management and climate justice Strengthen IPLCs governance structures including customary ones

Promote sustainable, participatory, just and responsible natural resource management practices, REDD+ and biodiversity conservation ensuring gender and social inclusion in the ACA

Assess drivers of environmental degradation with technical assistance from partners. Local inventory of natural resources and biodiversity Develop local data-management systems Pilot land-use planning in a few sites

Document and disseminate the knowledge of IPLCs and practices on environment conservation, natural resources management and biodiversity conservation

Provide support for the better conservation of the cultural sites or territories with conservation values

Support local government for managing local environmental pollution

Develop IPLC-based green enterprises and scope PES and/or biodiversity financing mechanisms to strengthen IPLC financial and economic sustainability

Develop IPLC-based green enterprises, providing enterprise management skills and linking them with the private sector while generating local employments

Conduct studies and assessments to further promote PES and/or biodiversity financing mechanisms

Promote nature-and culture-based solutions to build IP and LC’s and ecosystems climate resilience generating mitigation co-benefits and building on local, traditional and indigenous knowledge

Conduct vulnerability assessments, implement nature-and
culture-based solutions

Develop Community-Based Monitoring and Information System (CBMIS) to monitor climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and the effectiveness of nature-based solutions

Discuss and develop benefits sharing mechanism for revenues raised in the ACA

Identify diversified financial mechanisms, establish benefit-sharing mechanism for ACA revenues, implement measures to enhance economic resilience of IPLCs

Introduction To Region

Nepal Map


Approximate area in hectars:


Gurung, Magar, Thakali, Manange, Baragungle and Tingaule Thakali Indigenous Peoples population:


Global Biodiversity Hotspots and High Biodiversity Wilderness Areas:


Key Biodiversity Areas:

Annapurna Area

Important Bird Areas:

Annapurna Area

Protected Areas/ Wildlife Management Areas/etc.:

Annapurna Conservation Area

Percentage of country’s land area under recognized IP or LC ownership: (Source: RRI: 2015. Who Owns the World’s Land?)


Number of Land Defenders Killed 2016-2018:  (Source: Global Witness)


About the Annapurna Area 

The Annapurna Area (AA) in Nepal holds extremely high biodiversity including 1,226 species of flowering plants, 105 mammals, 518 birds, 40 reptiles and 23 amphibians. Within a north-south span of 150 km, Nepal’s altitudinal range varies from 60m-8,848 m above sea level. This divides the country into 5 ecological zones, making it a country with a huge variation in physiographic and climatic conditions and one of the top-ten global biodiversity hotspots. Several features make the Annapurna region unique in the world. It has the world’s deepest river gorge—Kali Gandaki Gorge, which is 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, is a valley with fossils from the Tethys Sea dating to 60 million years ago. The region contains the world’s largest rhododendron forest in Ghorepani. Tilicho lake, located in Manang, north of Annapurna massif, is the world’s highest altitude fresh water lake. A forest carbon inventory undertaken in the Chitwan Annapurna Landscape (CHAL) estimated the total carbon stock in the area to be 540.1 million tCO2e, with an average of 725.9 tCO2e per ha.

The Annapurna Area is inhabited by a fairly large population of indigenous peoples, comprising 120,000 residents of different cultural and linguistic groups. Gurung and Magar nationalities are the dominant groups in the south, whereas Thakali, Manange and Baragungle are dominant in the north. The proposed territory of the Annapurna Conservation Area has been managed for nearly three and a half decades under a community stewardship model by the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), a semi-government agency. The handover of the conservation area to communities was planned for 2012 and then again with the new constitution of Nepal which came into effect in 2015. Devolution of the governance system under the new constitution sparked another demand by the newly formed local rural municipalities to take over the management of the AA in 2018. While disputes and discussions between NTNC, ACAP and the local government were settled, NTNC’s mandate of managing AA through ACAP was further extended for one more year (January 2021) by a decision of the cabinet. NTNC and its ACAP program also envisions that the AA will be transferred to and managed by the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities through a Council, and the ICI project will support the transfer process and the capacity of Indigenous institutions to take on management of the conservation area.

Indigenous economic activities:

  • Agriculture
  • Livestock
  • Agroforestry
  • Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs)
  • Tourism
  • Payments for Ecosystem Services

Challenges and threats:

  • Agricultural expansion and commercialization 
  • Climate change
  • Infrastructure development (e.g. roads, railways, pipelines, transmission lines, wind farms, geothermal projects, airports, dams) 
  • Tourism 
  • Invasive species 
  • Human-wildlife conflict

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