June 24, 2010
BBC News reports that the Nepalese government has announced a two-month ban on all logging in the country. The ban is due primarily to the high number of trees being cut down in the forests of the southern, low-land Terai region of Nepal. According to one report, more than 250,000 acres have been lost in only a few months—more than was logged over the five-year period from 2000-2005.
Around a quarter of the land mass in Nepal is under forest, and much of this is managed by community projects.
Such projects in the foothills of the Himalayas have been successful in preserving forest cover, but projects in lowland areas have been less well managed.
Visiting Lumbini a few years ago, which is in the Terai, I remember being informed about deforestation issues within the Master Plan area of the Buddha's birthplace. Dr. Christoph Cueppers, Director of the Lumbini International Research Institute, said that there were regulations in place, but it's difficult to enforce them. According to Cueppers, most deforestation in Lumbini is due to local villagers looking for firewood.
Image: Photographer Kenro Izu (center) in Lumbini, Nepal, 2009, with Tibetan and Nepalese monks and his Indian assistant. Photograph courtesy of Kenro Izu.