Tarai forests vanishing fast

BANKE: Dense forests in the Tarai are gradually depleting, thanks to growing human encroachment. Taking advantage of political instability in the country, hundreds of hectares of forests have been cleared up in Banke and Bardiya districts by the landless people.

Submitting its study report, the Advocacy Campaign of the Federation of Community Forest Users' Group Nepal, concluded that deforestation in the Tarai forests was going unabated because the encroachers have the support of various political parties. The study revealed that over 3,000 hectares of forests in the Tarai had been encroached in Banke and Bardiya alone.

According to District Forest Office, Banke, 1,743 hectares of forests in the district have been encroached. The district is home to 118,231 hectares of forest land. The DFO has handed over 108 community forests to local users' groups. About 400 hectares of community forests have already been destroyed.

The rate of deforestation is higher in government forests compared to the community forests. Locals allege that the members of forest users' groups are themselves involved in deforestation. "Staffers of DFO and timber contractors are also involved in deforestation. Later, the cleared land is encroached in the name of landless people," the locals added. They said the rate of deforestation had increased. Jayadurga Community Forest, Bhagwati Community Forest, Shikh Community Forest of Baijapur and Jharana Community Forest in the district are the worst hit.

Meanwhile, the encroachers have destroyed 737 hectares of the 122,682 hectares of forest land in Bardiya district. The DFO, Bardiya, has handed over 257 community forests to the local community. However, 318 hectares of community forests have already been encroached upon. Deforestation is also on the rise in Bardiya National Park, where security is tighter as compared to other forest areas in the district.