The Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) aims to design a Programme Document to assist in proper conservation, development and management of the natural resources of Churia region in an integrated and sustainable manner. Government is also in the process of finalizing the Churia Conservation Strategy.
An Inception Workshop to formulate Project Document on “Integrated Natural Resource Conservation and Management in Churia” has been jointly convened by the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Kathmandu today.
The main objective of the workshop was to attain suggestions among all partners and concerned stakeholders on objectives, activities, output, outcomes, adopted approaches and methodologies while formulating the Project Document.
Around 50 participants including high level representatives from different government agencies, national and international non-governmental organizations, academicians, consultants and different concerned stakeholders passionately participated in the workshop.
“This project is highly relevant and timely for Nepal and with combined effort it can be a unique example of national expertise”, said Bharat Pudasaini in his welcome remarks. “The Churia programme is also important for national integrity which connects upstream mid-hills and downstream Terai region and with the help of this noble project around 50% of the total population will be benefited”, he added.
Dr. Yam Malla, Country Representative of IUCN emphasized Churia as a national priority issue and pointed out the need of strong partnership at the local level for the effective and efficient implementation of the programme. “IUCN is obliged for providing technical assistance on this national interest and will give its full effort for the timely completion of work. The outcomes and findings of the project will also valuable for the government’s upcoming periodic plan”, he said.
Addressing the ceremony, FAO Assistant Representative for Nepal Dr. Binod Shah said “FAO is excited to work for the conservation and management of Churia region and we are not only supporting for the formulation of the Project Document but also interested to backing for its full implementation”.
Highlighting the importance of the programme, chair of the session and Joint Secretary of MoFSC, Mr. Harihar Sigdel said, “There is a need of an intervention that not only integrates the various efforts but also synchronizes ongoing and potential development activities into an integrated and holistic Churia programme. The upcoming Project Document will certainly fulfill the gaps.”
The inauguration programme was followed by technical presentation and plenary discussion sessions on potential project site selection criteria, Churia issues and way forward to addressing them. The workshop concluded an initial consultation phase which provided inputs from all major partners and stakeholders to develop a common understanding about the goals, objectives and working modality for preparing Project Document. The Project document is envisaged to be a guiding Document for activities to be undertaken in Churia region as well as addressing the trans-boundary issues related to conservation of the area.
Churia region is important from ecological, social, economic and political perspective of Nepal. Serving as the water reserve for Terai region and the northern part of India, Churia is critical for both national economy and integrity. Spread from the east to the west and covering some 13% of total area of the country, Churia, together with the Bhabar and Terai regions involve approximately 60% of the country’s total population. With nearly 60% of the Churia under forest cover and rich in biodiversity, it is alarming that the region is considered vulnerable to natural disasters such as landslides, erosions, and flood and climate change impacts. Per the estimates, 6.5 million cubic metre of gravel, stones and sands are legally extracted every year from the region and the illegal extractions are expected to be twice as much. One of the major drivers of negative human impact is accelerated migration into the forested areas of Churia region. Annual deforestation rates are estimated to be 1.7% in the Churia region. Additionally, the level of awareness about the environmental degradation and causal effect of the human induced and natural disasters is low among the local communities of the Churia region.