Sikkim is a small hilly state in the Eastern Himalaya of India, extending approximately 114 km from north to south and 64 km from east to west. The climate of the state broadly falls into the tropical, temperate, and alpine categories depending on the elevation. Sikkim experiences heavy rainfall, and humidity remains above 70% through the year in most of the areas due to its proximity with the Bay of Bengal. For these reasons, the environment is one of Sikkim’s valuable natural resources. Whereas the state covers only 0.2% of India’s total land area, it is home to roughly one third of the nation’s biodiversity. In addition, forests are an important source of livelihood for the state’s primarily rural population. Sikkim’s landlocked and hilly terrain and lack of transportation infrastructure have limited the growth of agriculture and industries. Thus, the state views its forests and wildlife as assets that are yet to be utilised for development purposes. The Forest Department, which oversees both the forestry sector and biodiversity conservation, has worked hard to protect these valuable assets.
In February 2009, the Department of Forest, Environment, and Wildlife Management, Government of Sikkim (‘Forest Department’) agreed on the scope of work of the Preparatory Study for the Project (‘Study’), which was launched in May 2009. The GOJ received an official request for an ODA loan to support the Project in June 2009. The main objectives of the project will be to improve the living standards of inhabitants of the state of Sikkim through entry point activities and ecotourism, and to conserve Sikkim’s biodiversity through participatory biodiversity conservation, and forest protection and management. The Project Concept Note presented six major components:
IC Net was commissioned to verify the relevance of the project, to confirm its scope, and to recommend a detailed project design, including the project’s main components, activities, implementation schedule, management structure, and evaluation methods.