Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Aug 23 (IANS) In a first, Nepal on Wednesday launched its climate-smart snow leopard landscape management plan, leading the way in safeguarding this endangered species, also found in India, and its habitat.Also Read - Mumbai Rains: Death Toll Rises to 31 in Landslide, House-collapse Incidents; NDRF Ends Search & Rescue Ops

Its conservation plan launched ahead of the International Snow Leopard Summit and Ecosystem Forum, which starts here on Thursday, addresses key current and emerging threats to the snow leopards, including climate change, and will be used as a model for other range countries to adopt. Also Read - Coronavirus in India News And Updates: Take Action Against Those Engaging in Black Marketing of Oxygen and Medicines, HC tells Delhi Govt

“This is the first climate-smart landscape management plan for snow leopard conservation in the world and is evidence of the government of Nepal’s high level of commitment to this goal,” said Nepal’s Forests and Soil Conservation Secretary Prakash Mathema in a statement. Also Read - Rhea Chakraborty Expresses Gratitude Towards 'Covid Warriors', Says 'Let's Go Mumbai'

He said it could not have been possible without the support of local communities, conservation organisations and other committed partners.

At the meeting, world leaders will hold critical talks to strengthen previous commitments to safeguard the future of the snow leopard and its habitat – the headwaters for rivers on which hundreds of millions directly depend as a source of freshwater.

It has been four years since the range countries first met in 2013, when they committed to an ambitious goal of securing 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020.

This has brought the plight of this iconic species into the spotlight and created hope that commitment from the range country governments could set an example of conservation success worldwide.

Nepal’s conservation plan comes ahead of the Bishkek Declaration which will be signed by all 12 range states at the close of the summit and must pave the way for more substantial action in securing 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020.

“The plan addresses even the toughest challenges, including tackling the complex impacts of climate change. Nepal has once again established itself as a leader in conservation, showing much-needed ambition despite facing some of the toughest environmental, economic and political conditions,” WWF-Nepal Conservation Director Ghana S. Gurung said.

The WWF urged the snow leopard range countries, which include political powerhouses China, Russia and India, to bolster previous commitments, or risk irreversible damage to both the species and landscape.

“This Bishkek summit sets the stage for snow leopard range states to raise the bar and take strong action now to prevent permanent damage and build resilience for snow leopards and their habitats,” WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini said in a statement.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.