US professor in wildlife row
aKathmandu, August 5:
International experts, IUCN found flouting law.
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) has said that it would formulate strict regulations on the duties and limitations of “international experts” who often visit protected areas and induce locals to indulge in illegal activities.
The problem of intervention of international experts in protected areas came to light after an American expert was found involved in illegally declaring a certain area of the Sagarmatha National Park (SNP) as ‘Khumbu Community Conservation Area (KCCA)’ in May, without informing the government and other non-government stakeholders working for the conservation of the region.
Sources said Prof Stan Stevenson of MIT University (US), had encouraged the locals to declare three villages — Namche, Chaurikharka and Khumjung Valley — inside the Sagarmatha National Park as independent conservation area.
The professor is also reportedly scheduled to present his “success story” at the World Conservation Congress, to be held in October in Barcelona.
The sources also said the professor had promised to let some of the locals fly to Barcelona and had awarded them with cash.
“The activities of the American professor has opened our eyes. We can now imagine to what extent the so-called experts might have been influencing the locals for their vested interest,” said Annapurna Das, the director general at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC).
He added that the department would soon form a policy, which will describe what the experts,
who go to the conservation area, can do and what they cannot.
“In addition, we will prepare a sheet with government rules and make them sign it so that we would be able to take action against the persons if they are found crossing the limit,” he said.
He also said that the department had summoned the warden of the Sagarmatha National Park Tulsi Ram Sharma and interrogated him over his duty and his possible role in the illegal declaration of Khumbu Community Conservation Area inside Sagarmatha National Park.
“Investigation with Prof Stevenson is also going on,” he added.
The department has also interrogated the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which was also allegedly involved in the illegal declaration.
The global conservation body has stated that the organisation itself has no involvement in whatever the professor had done there, though he was a member of it.
The Sagarmatha National Park has already come into controversy several times due to unauthorised development activities in the area, which has been enlisted as World Heritage Site of UNESCO.
Meanwhile, the International Union for Conservation of Nature is going to hold a national consultation meeting with the IUCN state members on Friday to come up with the organisation’s formal stand on the issue.