The protected areas of Nepal cover mainly forested land and are located at various altitudes in the Terai, in the foothills of the Himalayas and in the mountains, thus encompassing a multitude of landscapes and preserving a vast biodiversity in the Palearctic and Indomalayan ecozones. Nepal covers 147,181 km2 (56,827 sq mi) in the central part of the Himalayas. Altitudes range from 67 m (220 ft) in the south-eastern Terai to 8,848 m (29,029 ft) at Sagarmatha within a short horizontal span. This extreme altitudinal gradient has resulted in 11 bio-climatic zones ranging from lower tropical below 500 m (1,600 ft) to nival above 5,000 m (16,000 ft) in the High Himalayas, encompassing nine terrestrial ecoregions with 36 vegetation types. Botanists recorded 1,120 species of non-flowering plants and 5,160 species of flowering plants. Nepal ranks 10th in terms of richest flowering plant diversity in Asia. Zoologists recorded 181 mammal species, 844 bird species, 100 reptile species, 43 amphibian species, 185 freshwater fish species, and 635 butterfly species. In recognition of the magnitude of biodiversity, the Government of Nepal has established a network of 20 protected areas since 1973, consisting of ten national parks, three wildlife reserves, six conservation areas, and one hunting reserve. In 2017, the Shuklaphanta and Parsa Wildlife Reserves were upgraded to National Parks.

Additionally, nine Ramsar sites were declared between 1988 and 2008

The National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) was established in 1982 by a Legislative Act as an autonomous and not-for-profit organization, mandated to work in the field of nature conservation in Nepal. For over two decades, the Trust has successfully undertaken over 200 small and large projects on nature conservation, biodiversity as well as cultural heritage protection, ecotourism, and sustainable development. The Trust’s experience over the years has shown that conservation efforts in low-income economies, such as Nepal, cannot be successful, much less sustainable unless the needs and welfare of the local people are addressed. Holistic and integrated conservation and development program with active people’s participation aimed at promoting local guardianship have been the focus of all the Trust activities.

Geographically, the Trust activities have spread from the sub-tropical plains of Chitwan, Bardia and Kanchanpur in the lowlands to the Annapurna and Manaslu region of the high Himalayas, including the trans-Himalayan region of Upper Mustang and Manang. Currently, the projects of Trust are divided into three geographical areas - the lowland, the mid-hills (Kathmandu Valley) and the high mountains. The Trust’s activities in the lowlands are based in and around the Chitwan National Park, the Bardia National Park and the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve located in the central, western and far-western development regions of Nepal, through the Biodiversity Conservation Center (BCC) in Chitwan, the Bardia Conservation Program (BCP) in Bardia and the Suklaphanta Conservation Program (SCP) in Kanchanpur. Similarly, the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), the Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) and Gaurishankar Conservation Area Project (GCAP) are three protected areas managed by the Trust in the mountain region. The Central Zoo is the only project of the Trust in Kathmandu Valley. As a new initiative, the Trust has established an Energy and Climate Change Unit to address the emerging issues of climate change through mitigation and adaptation approach and renewable energy technologies. The Trust has also started work on urban environment conservation with the Bagmati River Conservation Project.

At a much-reduced scale and a new area for conservation, National Research Council Nepal has initiated the Special Conservation Sites (SCS) program. Sites will identify plants or places that support or may support a wealth of other forms of life. A single tree or a very small area (as for Plantlife International) can be designated as SCS. If spread to many sites, this idea will save a significant amount of biodiversity and will mostly be implemented outside protected areas and close to human settlements.