National

10-yr project to conserve TMJ area launched

- CHANDRA KARKI, TERHATHUM

Dec 22, 2014-

The government has launched a 10-year programme declaring Teenjure-Milke-Jaljale (TMJ) region as a protected forest area for its proper management and conservation. The area, spread across Sankhuawasabha, Tehrathum and Taplejung districts, covers an area of 558 square kilometres.

The Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation has also directed the District Forest Office in Tehrathum to come up with a working policy for the project following recommendations of a task force formed under the then Forest and Soil Conservation minister in 2007.

As per the programme made public by the DFO, the government will be spending about Rs 118 million for various activities such as forest conservation, infrastructure development, income generating programmes and administrative expenses during the first five years of the programme.

According to District Forest Officer Hiralal Kushwaha, consulting agency Green Solution Nepal has already submitted a working policy for the next five years to the DFO. The agency’s Executive Director Krishna Bhujel said they held discussions and conducted interaction with local residents before finalising the working policy.

The TMJ area was declared Rhododendron Conservation Area by the then cabinet in July 13, 1998. However, the government failed to implement the programme following protests by locals, who said the project could prohibit them from activities affecting the bio-diversity of the area such as felling trees or removing forest resources, and operating hotels, lodges, public transport, health facility and schools in the area.

The Federation of Community Forest Users Nepal (FECOFUN) has been voicing concerns for protection of community forest users regarding conservation, promotion and use of the forest. “Our only concern is that the rights of local people and forest users should not be curtailed when declaring the region a protected forest area,” said FECOFUN district Chairperson Tulsi Sangraula. Local residents have been rooting for TMJ to be declared as a community-based protected area for the past one and a half decades.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was working with local NGOs for conserving the forest area and implementing income generating programmes for local people over the past decade. The IUCN in collaboration with National Rhododendron Conservation Management Committee (NRCMC) prepared a four-year working policy and submitted it to the Forest Ministry in order to develop the area as a community-based protected area, said Laxman Tiwari, NRCMC coordinator.

“Though late, the government has understood the problem of locals and paved the way for development of the area,” Tiwari said. The IUCN has already returned

following the termination of its ten-year project.

Published: 22-12-2014 08:17

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