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1,239 trees to be felled for 9 km Ring Road expansion

100 urban bird species´ habitat under threat, activists warn of stir

NIRJANA SHARMA
KATHMANDU, May 23

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More than 1000 trees along the Kalanki-Koteshwar section of the ring road are set to be chopped down in a few days to expand the existing four lane roads to eight lanes. The government of China has pledged to provide Rs 3.7 billion for the widening of the 9km stretch that is set to begin in June.

The District Forestry Office (DFO), Lalitpur and Kathmandu have permitted the Department of Road (DoR), Lalitpur to cut down as many as 1,239 trees that were planted in the 70s.

Hundreds of mimosa trees have been beatifying the ring road area for around half a century now. But by the time the Kathmanduites start missing their beauty next year, around 500 mimosa trees are likely to be set in people´s home in the form of furniture or doors and windows as the DFO will begin cutting down the trees from Sunday.

According to Assistant Forest Officer Lon Nath Timilsina of the DFO, Lalitpur the permission letter to the DoR, Lalitpur would be sent on Friday.
“We have estimated that total 23000 cubic feet of air space would be vacant after the trees are cut down,” said Timilsina. Of the total, 8000 cubic feet space has been covered by the mimosa, when measured by the cord unit, he added.

The government had planted the trees, as per the green belt program after the construction of the 27 km ring road, says Shyam Kharel, chief of Kathmandu Valley Road Improvement Project (KVRIP).

There are some other trees such as the Australian species silky oak, fir, gum tree, maple and some local varieties such as birch.
Both the forest offices of Kathmandu and Lalitpur would provide technical assistance to the DoR to cut down the trees and manage them. But the auctioning of the trees would be undertaken by the DoR.

According to Timilsina, most of the trees of Australian variety are not of much use except for fuel and timber. “But the mimosa trees that are full grown can be auctioned for making furniture and wooden crafts,” he added.

Meanwhile, the conservation activists have warned of a stir if the government does not find an alternative to knocking down the trees.

Urban birds´ habitat in danger

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With the authorities preparing to demolish the trees along the ring road, urban birds are set to lose their habitats. According to Hem Sagar Baral, director of the Bird Conservation Nepal, as many as 110 species of birds are found in Kathmandu. Among them, 100 species of birds have been nesting in the Valley.

The tall trees around the 27 km area of the ring road is home to cuckoo, house crow, jungle crow, black kite, owl, small cranes and creepers. Similarly, bats are also among the major species in those trees.

Baral said that the government must ensure that the trees would be replaced in the area once the construction works are over. He also stressed that local tree species should be planted in the area to protect our native vegetations.

“Instead of newly introduced species from foreign countries, the government must plant local trees such as Lapsi, Chilaune, Kattus that would conserve our bio-diversity,” said Baral.

The government could also plant the flowery trees at the busy road sides of the capital, which can also be used as a medium of tourism. “The authorities need to realize that the greenery around the city reflect the way of life of Nepalis and speak of their positive attitude.”

Campaigners set to protest against tree felling

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Pramada Sah
Campaigner, Trees Liberation Army (TLA)

What was the response of the government authorities when you urged them not to cut the trees?
We went to the DoR and the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority, but the officials there told us that they were not the bodies who took decisions regarding the recent move.
However, the officials have already marked hundreds of trees that are to be cut down. No sooner did the people hear that the tress would be cut down, they have started cutting down the trees for timber. We are disturbed to be the witness of the destruction of trees which have served us for decades. They are the homes of countless birds and insects, and provide shade to our animals. The trees marked for cutting include ´holy´ trees such as peepal and bar, as well the beautiful jacaranda trees which have become part of our heritage.

But the authorities have said that they wouldn´t stop?
Our voices were unheard even at the time when the KVTDA rampantly demolished the trees in the crowded areas where greenery is much required. But this time, we have organized a mass protest on Saturday, a day before the cutting starts. We will chain ourselves to the trees if needed. We urge everyone to come together and protest against this disaster. If the authorities want, it is not a big deal to save the trees even while expanding the road. The locals had provided their land at that time when the government wanted to develop the ring road green belt decades ago.

Source: Republica DailyLink: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=55067&show_comments=true#news_comment1
Published on 2013-05-23 05:30:09
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About nirjanasharma

Journalist.

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