Book review: Conflict is anti-environment


Biodiversity - that fulfils human needs, demands and desires and also becomes source of income - is a chief feature of a naturally prosperous country, Nepal. Following the launch of Maoist insurgency and ensuing conflict since March 13, 1996, however, biodiversity and its conservation that can provide possibilities of sustainable use in the future is on the brink of destruction.

Here is a book ‘Conflict and Conservation’ edited by Mangal Man Shakya, an environment journalist and Anil Chitrakar, who studied engineering at the University of Rajasthan and trained as an energy planner at the university of Pennsylvania (USA) and has had many experiences in conservation and resource management related activities, that presents how wildlife, medicinal herbs and other speces are on the verge of extinction.

The book is a collection of many articles by reporters and writers like Ujir Magar, Bhoj Raj Bhat, Ajaya Raj Bam, Sita Ram Baral, Rewati Sapkota and Ukesh Raj Bhuju. It reads like a good research paper and a field study carried out in national parks, conservation areas and reserves like Annapurna Conservation Area, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, Khaptad national Park, Langtang National Park, Makalu Barun Natrional Park.

The book divulges into details about the destruction of physical infrastructure by the Maoists and growing human casualties as a result of armed conflict. The authorities in charge of the protected areas started merging the affected guard posts and the sector offices with the respective headquarters. Consequently illegal poaching, garnering of plants having medicinal value and clearance of jungles have increased. However, the presence of security forces and the Maoist rebels in the jungle has discouraged smugglers and poachers.

The book is also a worthwhile read if one wants to know the opinion of tourists about the influence of the conflict upon them. It has introduced us with many topics like ‘the Mukhia System and its Secrets of Conservation’, ‘Election of Mukhiyas,’ ‘Laws of Mukhias’ and lifestyle of the people belonging to different geographical areas. According to the report of the department of tourism, 567 species of plants and trees are found in the buffer zone and 193 species of Himalayan flowers, 260 species of birds. Speces like Pancha Aunle, Jatamasi, Rato Panda and the like have become rare. The loss of these rare plants and animals are sure to bring upon an adverse effect upon the environment.

(‘Conflict and Conservation,’ Edited by Mangal Man Shakya and Anil Chitrakar, Wildlife Watch Group, 108 pages)