Kathmandu: Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) has prepared an on-site study report on four national issues related to the environment. NEFEJ also organized a program last Monday to interacton the findings and provide suggestions mentioned in the final draft of the report.
The group conducted an on-site study on the impact of development in the Terai region on the biodiversity, the contribution of indigenous people to the conservation of diversity, the condition and potential of the nine lakes in the Pokhara Valley listed on the Ramsar site, and the impact of developmental activities in the upstream area and its impact on the downstream area.
The field study reports prepared with the involvement of experts and journalists on the subject and the findings and suggestions have been made public during the ‘Sharing Workshop’. Experts and journalists who participated in the on-site study informed the participants about their reports through presentations.
Dr. Roshan Sherchan and journalist Sabin Sharma who were involved in the study gave their presentation on the positive and negative impacts of development and the conservation of biodiversity. They said that despite some positive efforts to mitigate the effects of development, they were not enough. He suggested that conservation of biodiversity should also be given priority while constructing infrastructures including road expansion and irrigation. “Some positive efforts are being made, but they are not enough,” they said.
Similarly, another expert Arjun Dhakal and journalist Rajesh Ghimire said that the ongoing road expansion and construction of hydropower in the upstream areas has impacted the local and downstream areas. He noted that the builders were failing to comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) during development. He noted that the weak implementation of the EIA was affecting the biodiversity conservation and the lives of the locals. “Environmental laws are not enforced in practice, they are limited to documents,” they said.
Similarly, while presenting another report, Dr. Sherchan and journalist Sabin Sharma have mentioned the important role of indigenous people in conservation. They stated that the homestays operated by the Indigenous people around the protected area has reduced the conflict between humans and wildlife, improved the economic situation and increased the living standards of the surrounding communities. Also, this has helped the community increase theiraffiliation towardsthe protected area and the wildlife in it. He noted that home stay has become a means to keep supporting the conservation. However, they have also pointed out some problems in home stay operation.
Similarly, another expert Rajan Subedi and journalist Rajesh Ghimire have described the listing of PokharaValley Lake Cluster in Ramsar Site as an achievement. They said that it has made Pokhara valley known to the world community and it will benefit the tourism sector in the days to come.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done in the conservation and management of these lakes and if these works are not done responsibly and promptly, the existence of the lakes will be endangered, he warned. He emphasized the need to prioritize problems through an integrated plan for the conservation of lakes.
Participating in the workshop, Botanist Dr. Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha suggested the concerned bodies to be vigilant for integrated conservation and development. He said that it is not enough to just show the problems but it should also be clear which body should address the issues;until when and how. He emphasized the need for integrated conservation of lakes.
Similarly, Forest Secretary from Gandaki Province Dr. Maheshwar Dhakal said that development should be taken along with conservation. “We must never move forward with mere protection, we must focus on integrated development,” he said, adding that “both sides must move forward with equal importance. Only then the integrated and overall development goals can be achieved.”
Former Director General of the Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management, Bijaya Raj Poudyal, said that it was too late to address the issues brought by development works. “The same problems are being repeated again and again. Why is this happening?” He asked. “The issue of reservoir conservation should be given priority.”
Kosmos Biswakarma, President of Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists, said that we had prepared a ‘media report’ by conducting an on-site study even during the Coronavirus pandemic. “We have carried out this report by forming a team of experts and journalists on the subject. This is not a scientific report based on research,” he said. “It is an in-depth media study report that deals with the subject matter.” Similarly, Vice President of the group Chandra Shekhar Karki welcomed the participants of the program.
NEFEJ plans to post all of those reports on its official website by including suggestions and comments received during the event. The full text of the report will be posted on the website in a few days.
The study report has been prepared by selecting 4 out of 16 subjects in the ‘Scoping Workshop’ held about three months ago. There was the participation of about 45 individuals belonging to different stakeholder bodies during the workshop.