Kangchenjunga folk to manage sanctuary

Kathmandu, September 22:

Minister of State for Forests and Soil Conservation, Gopal Rai, handed over the management of the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA) to the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council at a ceremony held in Taplejung today.

Terming the handover a landmark event in the history of biodiversity conservation in the country, he said: “The handover shows the government commitment to devolution of power to local communities, especially in the field of natural resources and equitable sharing of benefits,” the WWF Nepal said in a press release.

The people of Kangchenjunga had been expressing their willingness to manage the KCA for long. Formed in the year 2000, the KCA Management Council represents all stakeholders selected from seven Conservation Area Users’ Committees, 44 Users’ Groups, and 32 Mothers’ Groups.

The Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Management Plan, submitted by the council to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation in July 2004, was approved by the cabinet on August 31, 2006. The management plan aims to ensure benefits to local communities by letting them manage the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area.

According to the release, WWF Nepal’s work through the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Project succeeded in integrating biodiversity conservation with local development, also empowering local people through capacity enhancement activities. As part of the larger Sacred Himalayan Landscape, the global conservation organisation will support the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council for five years.

Since 1998, the WWF has invested $1.5 million in the KCA Project. Committees have been formed to monitor wildlife movement and curb illegal activities.