Forest lands continue to shrink: Report

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Forest lands continue to shrink: Report

Apr 18, 2015-

Deforestation has continued despite the efforts being made to conserve and restore forest lands, according to the annual report of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG).

The report states 1,376 hectares of forested areas were stripped for settlement and farming purposes in the last fiscal year. The country has lost 94,659 hectares of forestland ever since the government started keeping records. A staggering 82 percent of the deforestation so far have been reported in 16 Tarai districts, including Jhapa, Rupandehi and Kailali.

The OAG report, which was released last week, has pointed out the need of a special programme to control forest encroachment.

“Rise in migration from the mid-hill districts, political patronage to illegal settlers, and conversion of forested areas into farms have led to massive encroachment in Tarai districts,” said Rajan Kumar Pokharel, director general at the Department of Forest (DoF).

Rameshore Khanal, chairman of the Rastrapati Chure Conservation Development Board, said the Chure region which occupies nearly 13 percent of the total area in the country faces serious encroachment threats due to poverty and weak political commitment towards conservation.

Nearly 60 percent population living in 36 districts in Chure region are landless. With political backing, vast swathes of forest areas in Rautahat and Sarlahi districts of the Chure region have been converted into slum settlements over the years.

  Meanwhile, forest authorities have been reclaiming encroached forestland.

According to DoF, a total of 937 hectares of forest land has been reclaimed in the current fiscal year so far. In the last fiscal, forest authorities had recovered 1,907 hectares of forestland lost to deforestation and encroachment.

Plan to mitigate human-wildlife conflict

The government is planning to come up with a programme on human-wildlife conflict mitigation and relief provision for victims.

Concerned over the increasing cases of attacks, killings and injuries related to human-wildlife conflict, the government has decided to initiate different measures to reduce the chances of humans and wildlife harming one another and to set up proper response mechanism whenever there are cases of human-wildlife conflict.

On the occasion of the 30th Wildlife Week, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) has announced to improve and expand wildlife habitats to ensure that animals do not stray from their dwellings, risking the lives of their own and the humans residing near protected areas.

Tiger and rhino population has increased in the recent years, which has created the need for the expansion of their habitats, said DNPWC spokesperson Maheshwor Dhakal.

In the meantime, Dhakal said, the park management and concerned authorities are building solar-powered electric fence to keep the animals from entering human settlements.

20 Chitwan rhinos to be released inside Bardiya National Park

KAMAL PANTHI (GULARIYA)

Twenty rhinos inside Chitwan National Park (CNP) will be shifted to Bardiya National Park (BNP) this year as part of the plan to increase the dwindling rhino population in Bardiya.

According to BNP officials, 10 of the rhinos will be left on the banks of the Karnali river and 10 others will be released in Babai Valley.

According to BNP Chief Conservation Officer Ramchandra Kandel, 74 rhinos residing in Babai Valley had died at the hands of poachers during the decade-long insurgency when the presence of security personnel guarding the  protected region inside the park was low. More recently, Kandel added, four of the park’s rhinos migrated to Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.

BNP plans to strengthen the park’s security and manage rhino habitat to help in re-population.

The park authorities have already established security posts of Nepal Army at Deurali, Sod Khola, Chepang, Shivapur, Kalinara, Guthi, Thuloshree, Parewa Odar, Lamidamar and Baspani of Babai Valley.

Meanwhile, the rhino census underway in BNP is expected to complete within a few days. Park authorities estimate that 31 rhinos are residing inside BNP currently.

Published: 19-04-2015 08:56

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