China-funded centre handed over

KATHMANDU; The biodiversity conservation and research centre constructed with support of the Chinese government was handed over to Nepal amidst a programme here today.

The building to be owned by the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), a semi-government conservation organisation and which cost Rs 35 crore, is located at Khumaltar in Lalitpur district.

"Environmental degradation has been a global issue and we are facing environmental challenges from the impact of climate change; as such, conservation efforts would be a solution to combat climate change; the NTNC should use this centre widely for conservation of natural resources," Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said during the inauguration of the centre. The prime minister is the patron of the NTNC. "We will form an alliance of mountainous countries to raise voice in the global arena against the effects of climate change and Nepal will play a vital role in this regard," he added.

The Chinese government signed an agreement with the Nepali government in 2005 and former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal laid the centre's foundation stone in May 2008. The construction completed in December. The government of Nepal had provided 35 ropanies of land for the building.

"This is the first project funded by the Chinese government in the conservation sector and this has encouraged us to opt for greater projects in this sector," Deepak Bohara, Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC), who is also the chairman of the NTNC, said.

"I believe that this contribution of the Chinese government will play an important role in protecting the environment and China

is always ready to support Nepal while staying within its capacity," Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Qui Guohong, said.

The NTNC was established in 1982 with a view to working on the conservation sector and was formerly known as the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC). The name was changed after the country was declared a republic in 2008.

"This resource has created a pressure on us to work more rigorously in the conservation sector

and we would like to assure all that there would be an optimum and wise use of the centre as we intensify conservation work," Juddha Bahadur Gurung, Member Secretary of the NTNC, said.