The Price of Conservation
Nepal’s conservation successes are now being threatened by greedy and short-sighted politicians who want to log forests or auction tigers for trophy hunting. There are new highways, irrigation canals, transmission lines and even a railway crisscrossing natural reserves. Alton Byers writes about roads in untouched Kangchenjunga in recent years.
Twenty years ago this week Nepali Times published a report about how authorities were working in cahoots with powerful people to smuggle timber from Sagarmatha National Park. Excerpts from #164, 26 September- 6 October 2003:
Sagarmatha National Park is a conservation success story, and a model for eco-tourism. The stately lichen-covered spruce and hemlock around Tengboche Monastery that had all but disappeared 25 years ago, are sprouting back. Juniper bushes near Pheriche show regeneration even though plant growth is extremely slow at these altitudes
But the Sagarmatha's success has come at a price. The growing affluence of the Sherpa villages, and the growth of tourism has boosted demand for timber. But the ban on logging inside the park has meant that the forests outside the park boundary have fallen under the axe. The rest of Khumbu's forests have become the victims of the park's success
Local villagers say the security forces are in cahoots with "powerful and influential people" to smuggle timber up to Namche Bazar. Park officials are aware that the deployment of additional security forces to guard the airport has increased consumption of firewood. But trees are being cut for construction timber.
For archived material of Nepali Times of the past 20 years, site search: www.nepalitimes.com