Tourism and bio-diversity Crucial linkage

 

World Tourism Day(WTD) this year is being celebrated with the powerful theme “Tourism and Biodiversity”. The theme could not be more befitting to the concurrent situation of rapid global biodiversity loss, which has impact to the very well-being of the planet and all the living beings including the homo sapiens. If tourism is a vital socio-economic activity for the well-being of the human beings and the earth, then bio-diversity can be taken as the very lung-system. Global audit of bio-diversity alarms us to act at the global and individual nation level. Though Nepal has gathered global significance in some areas related to bio-diversity conservation, national data and indicators point to an alarming state warranting urgent actions.

Bio-diversity is an important renewable natural resource for any country. It has greater importance for a developing country like Nepal with its direct bearing on maintaining the balance in the natural environment. Being a signatory to the convention on bio-diversity in 1992, Nepal is committed to pursue management of its natural resources with the participation of women, indigenous people and the disadvantaged groups. Global affirmation was made on scientific management and conservation of bio-diversity for the benefit of mankind with the signing of the Agreement on Convention 011 International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

National Parks and Wildlife Protection Act was enacted in Nepal in 1972 for the management and conservation of representative ecosystems and the bio­-diversity. Nepal has set aside nearly 18.30 per cent of its land area as protected area under Himalayan High Hill, Hill, and Terai representative ecosystems for the management and conservation of biodiversity.

Nepal is ranked ninth in the world for its wealth and profuseness of bio-­diversity that includes as per DNPWC, 181 species of mammals, 844 species of birds, 180 species of fish, and 635 species of butterflies. It is estimated that there are about 30,000 species of wild flora in Nepal. Nepal has some of the rarest and precious wild flora and fauna in the world as listed under CITES. UNESCO first declared RoyalChitawn National Park as World Heritage site. Hence, Nepal has its own important international obligation to manage and protect its biodiversity for the future generations of the world.

Being signatory to the Ramsar Convention, Nepal has initiated related wetland and bio- diversity management and conservation works in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. Recently, HMG/N has declared 20,000 lakes in Chitwan district, Jagadishpur Reservoir in Kapilvastu district, and Ghoda-Gliodi Taal in Kailali district as protected areas for wetland management as per the Ramsar Convention.

Following the Rio Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development in 1992, GEF was created to assist countries globally to pursue environment management and conservation. Nepal government has recently approved Nepal Biodiversity Strategy document and also is in the process to set up an implementing mechanism for Nepal Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) by creating Nepal Biodiversity Trust Fund with autonomous, legal, and tax-free status.

The Fund will support conservation education, training, applied research, sustainable income generating activities, poaching control, women focused related programs, use of indigenous knowledge and practices for conservation education and policy development etc., as per the priorities set in the NBS.

With meaningful and responsible participation of domestic and international tourists, Nepal can promote and play an important role in nature conservation and environment management, to assure a progressive path for tourism to flourish in its true mission to conserve and promote biodiversity ensuring as well the socio-economic benefits expected from this sector.The WTD 2010 theme is to inculcate the true sense of tourism among all, that will accord highest priority for nature and biodiversity conservation.

The celebration of WTD clearly signifies a direct link between tourism and biodiversity. Nepal can be a Mecca for global tourists for bio-diversity. Ban Ki-moon appreciates the tourism community’s recognition of preserving biodiversity through tourism.

Both tourism and bio-diversity conservation have to go side by side for the socio-economic benefits that the former has the potential to provide while the bio-diversity loss can be stemmed for the posterity to be proud of.

The WTD should enlighten all the concerned, the tourists and the common people to appreciate the direct link between tourism and biodiversity. As a country, if sustained efforts are undertaken we can preserve biodiversity that will ensure more inflow of tourists.

We must promote responsible tourism that will not only promote bio-diversity conservation but sustain tourism itself on a long term basis. Rana is eco-cultural tourism promotion specialist

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