Eco-tourism thriving in Dharan

June 10, 2017 07:58 AM Rohit Rai

DHARAN: Apart from a few trees and vegetation, you won’t be able to see any wild animals these days inside the jungle, thanks to rapid urbanization and deforestation. However, the sights  of the jungle situated at the southern part of Dharan is interesting and different.

Park and mini zoo inside the jungle

Yalamber Community Park

At Dharan, various local community-led forestry user groups have been established with the primary objective to conserve the jungle and its wildlife. With the initiation of such groups, the once deserted Charkosejhadi jungle has been restored. Bajhgara, Langhali, Himali, Yalambar, Hariyali and Udhaya are some active consumer-led forestry communities of Dharan.

Among them the Yalamber Community Forestry Users is the oldest group. It was founded in 2053 BS in one hectares of forest area established by Former Gurkha Soldiers. In 2055 BS it became official where 175 households became the consumer of 27 hectares area forest. Although working with a small area at first, this group initiated the concept of eco-tourism by forming the Yalamber Community Park. Many people from other districts also come here to observe the flourishing eco-tourism. It is a destination for picnics and school children come here to learn by watching animals and plants. “During the picnic season, this place gets crowded and has turned into a place of relaxation in the middle of nature. This has helped in the protection of the jungle as well as the development of tourism in the area,” expressed the president of Yalamber Community Forestry Users  and former Gurkha soldier Nirbhadur Rai.

Yalamber Community Park is a great place to spend your day. As you enter the park you  are greeted with a wooden building that houses a seminar hall and a flower garden. This park is situated inside the jungle where people can also partake in the offerings of a mini-zoo complete with a playground and a children’s park.

At the zoo, you will be able to see various types of animals and birds such as anaconda, peacock, deer, dhanesh, huchil, et cetera. A man-made pond with different kinds of fish can also be found within the park. To add to the attraction of the pond, a bridge has also been built in-between the pond where people take photographs of themselves.

In the year 2060 BS, this community park also bagged the second prize titled Ganeshman Singh Forest Conservation prize that came with a cash prize of Rs 50,000. “Not only restricted to saving the forest, we also wanted to properly utilize the forest area by establishing picnic spots, zoo, ponds, children’s parks and more. Our practice was appreciated even by the secretaries from the ministry since they visited our parks too,” added Ramesh Rai, former Gurkha Soldier and founder secretary of Yalamber Community Forestry Users.

Hariyali Community Park

Like Yalamber Community Forestry Users, in 2059 BS, Hariyali Community Forestry Users  officially came into existence. Till 2061 BS, it focused on saving the jungle. It was only after 2062 BS that they started exploring eco-tourism. And now its main source of income is the number of tourists that visit the park. According to Jasbir Limbu, President of Hariyali Community Forestry Users, the group earns 15 lakhs per year. And this income has been utilized by the users in the development and management of the community park while the remaining income is spent on social welfare such as road, drainage system, schools, et cetera. “This park has turned into a prime example of eco-tourism because of the different types of plants/vegetations, animals and children’s parks.”

Hariyali Community Park is spread across 197.37 hectors of forest space of the entire 886.72 hectors of forest area. The community has established a training hall that caterers to about 60 people at a time. And it has also established a resting area where various organizations conduct events. It is not only limited to this, as it also has a basketball court and a mini zoo. “Everything you see around here is initiated by the locals, the government is only focused on whether the trees of the forest are being protected or not. Government should encourage those who are doing good work but it is not a case here,” opined District Vice-President of Federation of Community Forestry Users.

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