HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The government is likely to extend a contract, which it inked with the National Trust for Nature Conservation to hand over the management of Annapurna Conservation Area project (ACAP).
The contract, which was signed in 2002, is set to expire by the end of this year, say officials adding that the ministry is weighing its options, and is likely to agree to an extension.
“A discussion is on at the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation on various options. Officials have not yet decided to extend the agreement,” said Juddha Bahadur Gurung, member secretary at the trust.
The conservation area, covering an area of 7,629 sq km, is said to be a successful model of eco-tourism — a concept that prioritises people’s participation in managing local area. Annapurna Conservation Area is the first protected area where locals are allowed to live within the boundaries of the protected zone, as well as own private property and exercise their rights over natural resources.
It is also the first protected area, which has not sought army assistance. “We have proposed a 10 to 20-year extension but there hasn’t been any decision. It’s up to the ministry to take a decision,” added Gurung.
The trust is a government-run body, chaired by the forest minister. It was formerly known as King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation. “It has been proposed that the locals should be encouraged and trained to take up ownership of the area in the coming years,” said an official.