Govt to declare conservation areas: Minister

Kathmandu, March 19:

Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Kiran Gurung today said the government was working out plans to declare several places across the nation as conservation areas.

According to the plan, Tinjure-Milke-Jaljale of the Koshi zone, Chandragiri of Bagmati, Fewa Lake in Kaski, the entire east-west Chure stretch, Gauri Shankar and Rolwaling, among others, will be declared as conservation areas.

The minister also said Nepal would soon hold seminars in industrialised countries, asking them to pay for the damages to Nepal’s natural environment due to climate change. Addressing a meet of climate experts and Constituent Assembly members, Gurung said Nepal will observe 2009 as the Year of Nature Conservation. The minister said Nepal would claim its rights to environment conservation during the meetings with the polluting giants.

He also said the ministry had sought the help of Geological Society of UK and zoos in Singapore and China to help establish a geological park in the country. He said plans were also afoot to establish a biological research centre and an animal orphanage centre, adding that community forests would be used to generate employment opportunities for the locals. The minister said necessary amendments to existing laws and policies would be introduced to encourage commercial farming of timber and medicinal herbs.

Dr Sunil Babu Panta, coordinator, parliamentary committee on environment, climate change and natural resource management, said the impact of climate change would first manifest in the form of drought, flood, storm, ice-melting and increase in the sea level.

Citing that Bhutan had set aside 60 per cent of its total land area for forests, Panta said Nepal should also be able to earmark at least 40 per cent area.

Dr Roshan Shrestha, regional director, UN-HABITAT, said the lawmakers need to prepare a legislative framework to encourage rainwater harvesting. Participating stakeholders also demanded that the lawmakers make effort to guarantee citizens’ right to safe drinking water and sanitation.