The tripartite consensus three eminent organisations have reached to design an integrated conservation plan, the Sacred Himalaya Landscape, something resembling the Tarai Arc Landscape is a welcome development. The three organisations — the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, the Mountain Institute and the World Wildlife Fund-Nepal — have agreed in principle that the effort will ensure perpetuation of the local tradition while new opportunities are sought within that framework to upgrade people’s lives. Said otherwise, the new plan dwells on the concept of sustainable development by respecting local sentiments, knowledge and skills that have remained central to natives’ beliefs and their methods of interaction with nature. Incidentally, the area in which the new plan proposes to operate in is rich in folklore and practices having a direct bearing on the future of the region’s biodiversity. The inhabitants, in the absence of modern forces of development, have customs and beliefs which are eco-friendly. In the din of developmental activities, the fragile equilibrium between humans and nature has been skewered warranting extraneous expertise to combine new techniques with the existing ones in order to minimise the negative impact of human intervention.
The new plan is to have the landscape extending from the Langtang National Park to the Kanchangjunga region extending right up to the western fringes of Bhutan. The Tarai Arc has provided an improved natural corridor for wildlife and expanded habitat leading to reduced human-animal confrontation and better conservation. Buffer zones have also been a major catalyst in the multiplication of fauna in different parts of Tarai, including expanded habitat on either side of the international border. Community forestry has acted as a bridge by providing forest cover. It has been long established that reduced human intervention is of enormous significance in wildlife conservation, the examples of which are the refugee-evicted areas in southern Bhutan and the ‘No Man’s Land’ that divides the two Koreas, both of which have emerged to become a den of tremendous wildlife activity. Wherever human interference cannot be prevented in totality, evolving development techniques that respect and rely on the conventional knowledge will certainly enhance local participation, which is the cornerstone to the success of sustainable development. In fact, the foresight in finding an area of common interest by the three separate organisations is an ennobling scheme. Because social sentiments are linked with other aspects of the people’s lives, the organisations will have to be careful about maintaining the sanctity of the local beliefs.