Fires in Langtang National Park in Nepal

Fires in Langtang National Park in Nepal

9 June 2008

published by Kantipur Daily

 Nepal — In 2 June 2008, a forest fire started in Dhunche, Khopang. Itis merely half hour walk from the Langtang National Park Office and nobody tookan initiative to control the fire.

It was started from the down slope of the forest area at 9 am. It consumedall the forests of Rhododendron and Pinus ruxburghii. It spread rapidly to thenearby forest. 44 personnels from Nepal Army marched at 3 pm from the Dhunche tocontrol the fires. It was a strange that the army did not use their vehicle thatday which is usually used to fetch firewood from the forest. After anunsuccessful effort, they returned back at 5 pm. The park personnels did notshow any interest to control the fires. There were plums of smoke coming out ofthe fires. Fortunately, there was a rain that night. But, again in the nextsunny day remaining fires from stumps started burning. It is thanked to the rainthat put out the fires again.

3 years ago, a fire in the Chandanbari destroyed Rhododendron, Castanopsisand pine species forests. 2 years ago, there was a fire just near the NationalPark Office in Dhunche. Few months ago, a fire consumed forests in SanovarkhukoNaur and Pangmo. Last month, there was a fire in Khandi forest. It can beassumed that there were a lot of forest fires in many places as there areseveral uncontrolled fires just under the nose of the concerned offices everyyear. Many people may think that there is no harm of these isolated fires. But,it should be noted that it not only destroys the forests but also kills valuablewildlife, birds, bees, medicinal herbs etc. which indeed need conservation.

The fires in the high altitude forests are mainly due to carelessness. Thereis an immediate need of awareness raising programmes to the local people.Concerned government officials also need to take serious responsibility to thefires. Only seminars, workshops in the city centers do not solve the problems.Door-to-door conservation education programmes are more effective and targetedgroups could be porters, grazers, fodder and fuelwood collectors, and farmers.These groups may not able to read hording boards of conservation informationalong the trekking routs.

There should be a due consideration of the basic needs and interests of thelocal communities for the conservation of forests, wildlife and domestic animals.Every conservation effort should link with the poverty. Community developmentand livelihood of poor people should be addressed in this regards.

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