VOL. 03, NO. 11, Oct. 30 2009 (Kartik 13, 2066)
ALIEN BATTLE TO SAVE PARK
One Woman’s Mission
Environmental activist Chanda Rana has launched a battle against a deadly plant Mikania Micrantha, which is destroying unique eco-system of Chitwan National Park
By A CORRESSPONDENT
Rana (Left ) Pointing Finger Towards Plants: Saving Chitwan
As Nepal’s policymakers are concentrating their efforts to articulate Nepal’s environmental problems at the forthcoming Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, an alien plant is playing havoc with the unique eco-system of Chitwan National Park.
Only a few people seem to have taken notice that the deadly invader Mikania Micrantha is gradually eating away other plants in the famous park. Far fewer have done anything about this.
Chanda Rana, the president of Save the Environment Foundation (SEF), has filmed and produced a thirty-minute documentary revealing the devastation caused by the alien plant to the Chitwan wildlife, especially the rhino, habitat. This is the first time anyone interviewed all stakeholders, including the local people, experts and officials to produce such a documentary.
Mikania Micrantha started to invade the forests of Chitwan National Park in 1994. Rana is the first environmental activist who documented its threats, how it operates its life cycle and invades forests, shrubs, grasslands and entire eco-system of the park and its surroundings.
Rana’s DVD Documentary is entitled ‘Mile-A-Minute: A serious threat to Chitwan National Park’. It depicts a serious threat posed by the alien species of plant to the entire eco-system of the area.
The documentary consists of the findings of my study and field observations. Apart from this, I have tried to include the voices of the concerned stakeholders who are closely observing the adverse effects of the invasion and infestation of the wild climber,” said Rana.
Based on field visits, research, study and expert opinions, Rana’s documentary is the first of its kind which narrates how the alien plant, Mikana Micrantha, is growing and how it is gradually infesting the entire region along with the buffer zones of the national Park.
There is the need to act immediately to save the Chitwan National Park from invasion of wild weed Mikania and preserve one of the world’s unique eco-systems and natural heritage sites. Voices should be heard at home as well as in the Copenhagen Summit of Climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark,” said Rana. “We are all aware that global warming is threatening the very existence of human civilization and forests including national parks like Chitwan which have been playing a vital role as carbon sinks are contributing to mitigate adverse effects of global warming. If we will not take action, the wild plant Micrantha will destroy Chitwan’s unique eco-system and wildlife habitat.”
During her holiday trip to Chitwan National Park in December 2007, she noticed the infestation by the wild plant. “When I was on an elephant safari, I noticed the entire grassland, bushes, main habitat of one horned rhinos were covered by this wild plant. In my informal discussions, I came to realize that I have to take certain action against this wild plant which has serious and adverse effect on many trees and grasslands. This documentary is part of awareness campaign against the infestation of Mikania Micrantha,” said Rana.
As the wild plant has already affected 20 percent of the Chitwan National Park and fifty percent of Rhino habitat areas, it is also threatening the entire eco-system. “First seen in 1994 after a major flood, the wild plant Mikania Micrantha is threatening the rhino-habitat including the grassland,” said Shanta Gewali, rhino expert of Nepal Trust for Nature Conservation.
Sponsored by Ashok Rana, Chief Executive Officer of Himalayan Bank, the entire documentary is the work of Chanda Rana, who has made personal contributions to this project. At a time when the country’s policymakers and activists have been taking part in global program through the support of donor countries, Rana has individually contributed to make the documentary to generate environmental awareness.
“By highlighting the devastations in the Chitwan National Park, Chanda Rana has made the greatest contribution to the nature conservation. After watching the documentary, I have realized that we need to take some immediate action,” said Deepak Bohara, Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation. “By brining this issue through personal initiative, Rana showed her commitment and dedication to nature,” said Bohara, who received the DVD handed over by Chanda Rana.
According to Rana, the documentary will be screened in London on 24 November when Nepal Nature Conservation Year 2009 will be celebrated jointly by NTNC and Geological society of London. Under the personal efforts of Rana, Save the Environment Foundation has already launched several programs in the valley including city greenery promotion, garbage management, raising people’s awareness on air pollution, campaign against plastic bags and many other programs.