Nepal’s forest cover increases by over five percent

Kathmandu, May 15 (IANS) A Nepali government survey has said that forests today take 44.74 percent of the total 141,718 sq km area of the Himalayan country, compared to the total forest cover of 39.6 percent between 1997 and 1998.

The Department of Forest Research and Survey conducted its five-year survey between 2010 and 2014 and found the forest cover to have increased, according to Nepal’s national news agency RSS.

The report showed Nepal’s mid-hill area was greener than other regions while the lowest forest cover of 6.9 percent fell in the Tarai, the plains region in the southern parts of the country where over half of the country’s population lives.

Forest research department spokesman Keshab Raj Gautam said implementation of protection programmes and massive migration from rural to urban areas were the main reasons behind the rapid growth rate of the forests.

For example, with a theme “One house one tree; one village one forest; one town several parks”, the Nepali government a few years ago announced 2014-2023 as the forest decade to make the country greener.

At the same time, an increasing people has been migrating to urban areas from remote regions. As a result, more urban centres have emerged. In 2015, the government declared 133 new municipalities, bringing the number to 191.

But the incidents of forest fire may easily counteract the nation’s endeavour to protect and expand forest area, the department spokesman said.

Since February this year, over 500 wildfire-related events were reported across the country, causing a total of 350,000 hectares of forest to be burnt down, the media reported.

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