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Scientists Discussed Biodiversity Conservation & Other Issues at Mountains in the Changing World Conference

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By Alina Maharjan

Prof. Joel T. Heinen delivering his keynote talk.

Kathmandu Institute of Applied Sciences (KIAS), Kathmandu, Nepal successfully hosted and organized the 3rdinternational conference on  Mountains in the Changing World (MoChWo) at Radisson Hotel, Kathmandu, Nepal on 09-10 October, 2018. Considering the seriousness of conserving biodiversity, particularly in the mountain regions, the major theme of MoChWo 2018 was Conserving Biodiversity: Challenges for Mountains in the Anthropocene.

More than 180 scientists, researchers, professors, students, and policy makers attended the conference. Participants were from Nepal, China, Germany, France, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Italy, Sweden, Malaysia, Netherlands, Afghanistan, Finland, and Iran. The opening ceremony of the conference included a welcome speech by the convener of the conference, Dr. Prakash K. Poudel, and two keynote talks. In the first keynote address, Professor Dr. Joel T. Heinen from the Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA, highlighted past lessons and future possibilities of conservation in Nepal. Likewise, in the second keynote address, Dr. Jagadish Krishnaswamy, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Royal enclave, Jakkur Post, Srirampura, Bangalore, India presented his research on Climate and global change in the Himalayas: An ecological perspective.

The inauguration session was followed by six symposia, seven technical parallel sessions and a poster session. The six symposia were – a) Citizen Science for a Sustainable Mountain Future, b) International Mountain Hack: Schools & Mountains for Sustainable Development, c) Biological Invasion in the Changing World, d) Challenges of Food Safety Monitoring in Least Developed Countries e) Air Pollution and Monitoring, and f) Management of Plant Diversity for Food and Nutrition. Paper presenters and participants exchanged their research experience and findings through discussion. One of the highlights of the first day was the continuation of the themes brought up in the keynotes through two sessions dedicated to conserving biodiversity in which Dr. Menaka Panta Neupane from IUCN, Kathmandu, Nepal gave an invited talk, followed by several presentations on wildlife conservation by national and international researchers. Furthermore, cross cutting issues regarding mountains such as air pollution, disaster risk reduction, climate change, biodiversity conservation, solid waste, forest management, agro-economy, sustainable development, citizen science were discussed with oral and poster presentations throughout the sessions.

Amongst the gamut of symposia in the conference, the memorable Mountain Hack presented a novel approach where high school students from Nepal and Italy were involved in discussions. Their discussions centered around two interrelated themes – their roles in conservation of biodiversity in the mountains of Nepal and Italy and strengthening bonds between the two mountainous nations. The students were divided into groups where they summoned up plans to address the aforementioned themes. The groups presented a summary of their ideas at the closing ceremony for the gathered audience to hear.

Participants of Mountain Hack Symposium


The MoChWo conference concluded with award distribution and appreciation to various individuals and organizations involved in making the event successful. Best student oral presentations were awarded to Rija Manandhar (graduate) and Rojina Duwal (undergraduate), whereas best student poster presentations were awarded to Smriti Shrestha (graduate) and Surabhi Upadhyay (undergraduate).

Following organizations were involved in this conference:  


Central Department of Environmental Science, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

Community-based Rainfall Management (CORAM) Program, Nepal

Conservation Science Journal

Italian Mountain Lab

UNIMONT, University of Mountain (Milan)



USAID and National Academy of Sciences, USA through Partnership for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Grant,

Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA), IAEA regional office in South Korea, and

Kathford International College of Engineering and Management, Lalitpur, Nepal

Kathmandu Institute of Applied Sciences has announced the 4thMoChWo conference in October, 2019.