Sustainable Development Success Stories
|Location||The Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP), Terai Region, central Nepal.|
|Responsible Organisation||Nepal Conservation Research and Training Centre (NCRTC) of the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC).|
|Description||The Royal Chitwan National Park is famous for its unique diversity of flora and fauna. Recognizing the importance of this vast array of biological diversity, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site in 1983. While the number of animals in the park increased as a result of an effective conservation effort, their habitat decreased due to succession, erosion and encroachment. The animals subsequently ventured into farmland outside the park in search of food, intensifying conflicts between the park and the local communities. The nearly 300,000 people residing in the 36 village development communities (VDCs) adjacent to the park are highly dependent on forest resources for fuelwood, fodder and timber. The supply of these resources from outside sources is limited, which has resulted in illegal collection within the park. Although the park enjoyed a flourishing tourist industry, the local residents did not benefit greatly from tourism, with only 2% of the local population employed by the tourist trade. The impact of the sale of products and services was also marginal. Consequently, the people did not generally recognise the value of conserving biological diversity. Furthermore, the privilege of the local people to collect firewood, wild edibles, herbs, fodder and other useful plants from the park was prohibited, but the increased number of animals in the park raided their crops. In some areas, villages that were once located within the park were moved out during the establishment of the national park boundaries. To address these conflicts, the Nepal Conservation Research and Training Centre (NCRTC) of the King Mahendra Trust Fund for Nature Conservation (KMTNC) initiated a bufferzone plantation programme in 1989. The main objective of the programme is to increase habitat for the endangered wildlife while providing fodder, fuelwood and timber for the local people. Furthermore, by opening the community forest area for eco-tourism, the project aims to demonstrate to the local people the economic value of conservation. The project was launched in the Baghmara Forest of the Bachhauli Village Development Committee (VDC) located on the northeast boundary of the park, an area that had become degraded and overgrazed due to a lack of attention from government authorities and increasing needs of the local people. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) helped the project by providing technical assistance and materials for the plantations.|
|Issues Addressed||Eco-tourism, biological diversity|
Community managed ecotourism in the Baghmar has been able to generate local guardianship in the conservation of the biological diversity of the area. The community forest has also increased the animal habitats, while still meeting a large percentage of the villager’s demand for fuelwood and fodder.
The economic incentives created from tourism also help to decrease pressure on the park because when people are economically well off they will be able to afford alternatives.
The Baghmara is a model which is economically and ecologically sustainable. Other VDCs in the vicinity of the RCNP also have the potential for similar long-term, self-sustaining programmes whereby wildlife conflicts can be overcome by economic opportunities generated by ecotourism. The Baghmara project has become known as a model of sustainable community forest conservation. Subsequently, the NCRTC has the potential to develop it as a regional training center. By working with the Biodiversity, Conservation Network (BCN) Monitoring Program, the training center can use the Baghmara Community Forest as a learning vehicle to teach conservation approaches to participants from other countries.
Mr. Arun Rijal, Senior Botanist
Mr. Micahel Victor