The forests in Kailali district, which are one of the huge natural heritages of the Province No 7, were rapidly depleting lately owing to various reasons.
Encroachment on forest and its resources was the key factor for depletion of the forest which covers 205,939 hectare (62.68 per cent) of Kailali’s total land. Kailali and Kanchanpur districts boast highest area under forest in the Province No 7.
The Rani-Jamara-Kulariya Irrigation Project, Khutiya Dipayal Fast track and Seti Lokmarga, among other ongoing development works in Kailali were causing series of onslaught on forests here.
A total of 13,348 trees were cut down in course of constructing Rani-Jamara-Kulariya Irrigation Project in various three phases from one national and 8 community forests in the locality, according to Sector Forest Office, Balchaur.
The Project will channel the water from the Irrigation Project, which is one of the national pride projects in the country, into the Kandra River that flows through Ghodaghodi Municiplaity-10 in Kailali. Project Engineer Krishna Bahadur Bista, expressing his concerns about environmental issues, said that hundreds of trees ought to be chopped to build a canal under this Project.
Similarly, the forests in the Bhawar and Chure area were also bound to recede while constructing Khutiya Dipayal Fast Track and Seti Lokmarga roadways. Assistant Forest Officer Bhim Dhakal at the Forest Division Office, Kailali said that around 1040 trees should be removed to complete the construction of the Postal Highway in Kailali which occupies 48.81 hectares of forest area.
Similarly, around 9,686 trees needs to be cut down for construction of Seti Lokmarga and 779 for the Khutiya Dipayal Fast Track that occupies 35.73 hectares forest area.
According to available data, forests in Tarai and Bhawar area span 1,931 square kilometers (59.70 percent), and 303.7 (40.30 percent) in the Chure area. More than 25,500 hectares of forest area have been encroachment in the name of freed Kamaiyas, landless squatters and disaster victims, and by those having connection with the people in power.
Factors including forest encroachment, deforestation and poaching of wild animals have been identified as main challenges to save forests and wildlife, said assistant forest officer Dhakal. Forest infringement has also affected the Basanta Bio Corridor connectivity, he added.
It has been estimated that 30,000 hectares of forest lands have been encroached in Kailali alone.
Migration and increasing urbanization in particular were to be blamed. The people migrating to Kailali from hilly and mountainous areas in pursuit of education, health and livelihood are among those encroaching on forest lands, said a forest office official.
On initiatives to save forests, forest management activities have started in Tarai and Bhawar area (1931 square kilometers) and in the Chure area (1303 square kilometers), according to the Forest Division Office, Kailali. So far, scientific forest management initiatives were underway in two partnerships and 19 community forests in Kailali district.