Violation of rights to livelihoods in Protected Areas in Nepal

About one million people living in the Buffer Zones and Conservation Area of Nepal are directly or indirectly dependent on the forest products and water resources of the Buffer Zone, Conservation Area, and National Parks and Reserves for their livelihood. The local community does not have easy access to forest resources in these areas. Therefore, the park and reserve affected communities and the residents of Buffer Zones have been demanding the repeal or amendment of the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1973 for years. When the 5th amendment to the Act was made in 2017, some community-friendly provisions were added to the act with the efforts of the elected parliamentarians and human rights activists. According to this, the local people will be allowed to graze in the parks or reserves without adversely affecting the forest and wildlife, to use the drinking water and irrigation used in the traditional way, to collect the wild vegetables and tubers that have been collected in the traditional way and to fish with the permission of Warden . Similarly, the Himalayan National Parks Regulation 1979 has made provisions for the locals to fish and collect firewood and collect and sell herbs of the parks or reserves in the Himalayan region with the permission of the Warden of respective national parks or reserves. Thus, even though the law provides for the access of locals to the forest products of the protected area for their livelihood, the Indigenous Peoples and local communities who depend on forest products for their livelihood have not been able to exercise this right.

The park and reserve-related regulations made a provision to provide permits for fishing within a limited time for a limited number of Indigenous Peoples (Bote, Darai, Majhi, Kumal and Tharu). The members of Nepal Fishermen’s Upliftment Association Sunsari and Nepal Bote Welfare Society Chitwan are worried over the disappearance of traditional knowledge and customary/collective practices of fishing due to the government permit system. One of the main sources of livelihood for other Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the Terai is traditionally fishing in the rivers. Despite their constant struggle for the security of this traditional profession, they have been expressing dissatisfaction with the government for not listening to their voices.

A large part of Nepal’s high hilly and mountainous region is occupied by five Conservation Areas (Kanchenjunga, Gaurishkar, Manaslu, Annapurna, and Apinampa). The regulations applicable to these conservation areas and the Himalayan National Parks Regulation 1979 have made legal provisions to provide permission to the local peoples for the collection and sale of herbs. However, such permission is granted only once a year for one season, due to which the livelihood and traditional knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples, who depend on herbs for their livelihood in the high hills and mountainous regions of Nepal, are in the critical condition. Problems have also arisen in the traditional healing practices of the Amchis (a practitioner of the ‘Sowa Rigpa’ medicine) based on traditional knowledge of mountain herbs and their use. Therefore, the Amchis have been demanding to amend the Conservation Area Regulations and the Himalayan National Parks Regulations to ensure the traditional access rights of the Indigenous Peoples and local communities to the Himalayan herbs. Similarly, mountain herbs are also a source of livelihood for the locals but due to the restrictions imposed on the collection of herbs by the administration of the protected area, the poor have been expressing dissatisfaction with the protected area as poverty is also increasing in the high hills and mountains.

Arrangements have been made in the Khaptad National Park Regulation and various regulations related to protected areas to allow the locals to collect non-timber forest products – NTFPs (such as Himalayan bamboo, Himalayan Nettle Cool, Daphne, etc. ). The collection of NTFPs including Himalayan bamboo, Himalayan Nettle Cool, Daphne in parks, reserves, and conservation areas has been banned . Due to this, the poor have been deprived of their livelihood by making various products from such NTFPs. Most of the Dalit and poor families have been affected by this and have been demanding legal reforms to allow non-timber forest products to be collected from protected areas. There is a growing need for legal reform in protected areas to ensure the access of the poor to protected areas.

प्रकाशित मिति : 11 जुलाई 2022, सोमवार
प्रतिक्रिया दिनुहोस