Conservationists are up in arms at the Nepal government's new policy of handing over management of some national parks, as well as other protected areas, to non-governmental organisations and private institutions. The forestland in question comprises 79 per cent of the country's total protected area. The perception is that only private interests would gain from such a step.
Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha, chairperson of the World Conservation Union's Nepal chapter, cautions: "In-depth planning and utmost care is needed... Once we lose endangered species, the process is irreversible." He adds: "I wonder what the hurry is," and puts a poser: "What about those displaced people, who sacrificed their entire society, land and houses in the name of national parks?"
The widespread criticism has forced the government to build safeguards into the policy, and form a committee under the director general of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (dnpwc) to oversee the management of the area after the handover. "We won't compromise the basic principles of conservation," stressed Narayan Paudel, deputy director general of dnpwc. The civil society, however, doesn't seem convinced.
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