Since early 2017, KTK-BELT and our incredible local partner, Sankhuwasabha Learning Grounds (SLG) have been leading the charge to create a 176,000-acre Community-Based Conservation Area in the Lumbasumba that will link Kanchenjunga Conservation Area and Makalu-Barun National Park, the 3rd and 5th tallest peaks in the world. This new habitat connectivity would allow nature & culture to thrive, giving new protection to the incredible national treasures of this region which include snow leopard, red pandas, hundreds of unique medicinal plants such as Bikhuma, Panchaule, and Kutki, and splendid birds like the Satyr Tragopan, Steppe Eagle, Silver-eared Mesia, and Wood Snipe– all threatened with extinction. The project is supported with a five-year grant from the Rainforest Trust, 2017-2022.
Until now, we have been working on the ground, building household level consent, assessing local views on the concept. Our team, which includes district coordinators, community mobilizers and youth fellows, spent a year doing the arduous work of carrying out household-to-household surveys, going door to door, to get complete consent for the idea. This incredible work by Wang Chhedar Bhote, Mohan Pandey, Kamala Rai, Tsering Dorje, and Gandema Bhote has paved the way for the local Rural Municipality chairpersons to endorse and now champion the concept, as we move to the province and national level.
The Lumbasumba, a region of notable floristic and faunal diversity, has been facing critical threats such as habitat modification and fragmentation, unsustainable use of natural resources, forest fires, infestations of invasive species, and loss of traditional knowledge and weakening of the cultural factors that buttress conservation. These trends underscore the need for the creation of this new conservation area.
This past December, we hosted our first province-level gathering in Taragaon Museum to build further consent for the concept. State Minister Honorable Ram Kumari Chaudhary was the chief guest. We were heartened to see so many female lawmakers stand up and speak in support of the Lumbasumba.
Also in attendance was special guest, Purna Prasad Rai, Member of the Provincial Assembly for State 1 who had the following to say: “The herders know EVERY detail about these landscapes, all of the habitats of wildlife, the behavioral ecology of the organisms there and their prey status. They also possess knowledge about the poachers’ routes. So, local farmers and herders must be at the core of the conservation of the Lumbasumba region.”
Our next step will be to hold a similar gathering in Biratnagar within State 1 in March 2019, before proceeding to the national level thereafter. Our approach from the beginning has been to move from the ground level up, so that all of the local stakeholders are helping shape this new conservation area, giving it lasting power.
KTK-BELT and SLG would like to thank ALL of the local government participants:
Chief Guest: Honourable State Minister Ram Kumari Chaudhary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development
Special Guest: Honourable Purna Prasad Rai, Member of Provincial Assembly, Province 1
Other Notable Guests: Provincial Assembly Members, Province 1 – Sarita Khadka and Umita Baraili; Secretary of House of Representatives-Gopal Nath Yogi; Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Forest, Tourism and Industry, Province 1- Krishna Prasad Poudel; Co-Chairpersons of the Makalu Rural Municipality and Bhotkhola Rural Municipality- Chameli Rai and Panjam Bhote; Deputy Secretary of NGO Federation Nepal-Dinesh Chaudhary; President of the FECOFUN Sankhuwasabha- Badri Sapkota; President of the FECOFUN Taplejung – Krishna Ojha