Evolving policies for conservation: An Historical Profile of the Protected Area System of Nepal

  • Heinen J
  • Shrestha S
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Abstract

Abstract Nepal has instituted progressive conservation programmes since the 1970s. This move was in reaction to very rapid rates of land clearance in the lowland areas of the country and an opening up to the world that led to nature-based tourism as a major economic enterprise. Formal conservation began with the passage of national legislation in 1973 offering strong protection for national parks and wildlife reserves, but denied usufruct rights to rural communities. From the late 1970s to the 1990s, the legislation was amended several times. Each case was, in several fundamental ways, a loosening of control by government authorities. Nepal now has buffer zone legislation and allows for the designation of conservation areas in addition to the more-strictly defined categories. Beginning in the 1990s, both government and foreign-backed projects have been implementing landscape level conservation approaches; a number of initiatives in trans-boundary protected area management with India and China have also begun and non-governmental organizations have taken an increasingly active role. This paper considers the expansion of the protected areas network in light of historical, cultural and economic factors and concludes that Nepal has been reactive in adopting conservation programmes. Both outside and inside influences have strongly affected the development of conservation programmes and there are several areas in which more work needs to be done. This includes the need for implementing both national and international conservation law and adopting social and biological monitoring programmes in and around protected areas. In addition, factors outside the control of conservation officials (i.e. a Maoist insurgency) have indirectly hindered conservation programmes in recent years and have greatly complicated prospects for further success. Abstract Nepal has instituted progressive conservation programmes since the 1970s. This move was in reaction to very rapid rates of land clearance in the lowland areas of the country and an opening up to the world that led to nature-based tourism as a major economic enterprise. Formal conservation began with the passage of national legislation in 1973 offering strong protection for national parks and wildlife reserves, but denied usufruct rights to rural communities. From the late 1970s to the 1990s, the legislation was amended several times. Each case was, in several fundamental ways, a loosening of control by government authorities. Nepal now has buffer zone legislation and allows for the designation of conservation areas in addition to the more-strictly defined categories. Beginning in the 1990s, both government and foreign-backed projects have been implementing landscape level conservation approaches; a number of initiatives in trans-boundary protected area management with India and China have also begun and non-governmental organizations have taken an increasingly active role. This paper considers the expansion of the protected areas network in light of historical, cultural and economic factors and concludes that Nepal has been reactive in adopting conservation programmes. Both outside and inside influences have strongly affected the development of conservation programmes and there are several areas in which more work needs to be done. This includes the need for implementing both national and international conservation law and adopting social and biological monitoring programmes in and around protected areas. In addition, factors outside the control of conservation officials (i.e. a Maoist insurgency) have indirectly hindered conservation programmes in recent years and have greatly complicated prospects for further success.

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Authors

  • Joel T. Heinen

  • Suresh K. Shrestha

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