Rhododendron facing existential crisis in Ilam highlands

ILAM: The national flower of Nepal, rhododendron, is seemingly falling into the list of endangered species of flora in face of negligence and lack of proper conservation efforts by the concerned authorities.

The open border with India, lack of awareness, open grazing, unsystematic urbanisation and use of unrestrained timber have resulted in the decline in the number of rhododendrons found in the highlands of Ilam.

Rhododendrons are being used by the Indian Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and in hotels and construction works in the eastern Pushapatinagar, Manebhanjyang and Sandakpur areas.

The forest area across the border in India is conserved in the Singalila National Park. Since the entry has been banned there, the illegal traders have shifted to Nepal, High Hill Herb Association's Deepak Lungeli added.

"Locals must be made aware of the illegal trade and the alternative way for their timber needs," he suggested.

"There is a need to develop substantive policy from the Ministry of Forest and the Department of Forestry for the proper conservation of rhododendrons," he shared.

Rhododendrons can be seen in Majhamjhuwa, Mawu, Jamuna, Majhpori, Puwamjhuwa, Pyang and Jogmai VDCs of the district.