Electrification halts denudation of forests

TAPLEJUNG: Following electrification of the Kanchanjunga Conservation Area in Gunsa, locals have stopped denuding forests. The locals used to fell trees and collect firewood from the forest. The area was electrified last in memory of the conservationists who were killed in a chopper crash some two years ago. Renowned geographers, scientists, diplomats, journalists and expert technicians were killed in the crash.

“We don’t need to go the jungle to search firewood,” Pengri Sherpa, a local said, adding that electricity generation in the area had fulfilled their demand for fuel. “As they don’t need to go to the forest anymore, women have now enough time for other lucrative activities including spinning threads and weaving carpets,” said Phursung Sherpa, a local. The jungles which were growing thin due to the deforestation in the past have become dense in Ghunsa. “We don’t have to go far and wide to see the wild animals,” Dandu Sherpa, a local said, adding, “I am very happy as I can hear the cry of wild animals and birds in the vicinity.”

Electricity generation had greatly contributed to protection of forest and wildlife, said Sujit Kumar Shrestha, manager, Kanchanjunga Conservation Area Project (KCAP). “I hope that the generation of power helps in the conservation of bio-diversity and tourism development,” he added. Rare wild animals like snow leopard, red panda and musk-deer are found in KCAP, while medicinal herbs like panchaule, kudki, bikhma, padamchal and maikopila are also found in KCAP.

The management of KCAP has been handed to the locals with the view to increase their participation in sustainable management of natural resources and its utilisation. The government and the Ministry of Land Conservation handed over the management of KCAP to Kanchanjunga Conservation Area Management Council two years ago.

The locals had prohibited felling of rhododendron trees and were actively protecting wildlife, said Shrestha.