Efforts being made to promote urban forestry

May 22, 2017

The Himalayan Times, 22nd May 2017, Kathmandu

Lack of urban forest planning and management in the past has caused great damage along the inner roads and Ring Road of Kathmandu Valley, according to Kathmandu Valley Development Authority.

Additionally, many existing urban parks and greenbelts are not maintained properly, thereby increasing environmental stress.

According to Strategic Development Master Plan (2015 – 2035) for Kathmandu Valley, considering the aesthetic, psycho-social and environmental impact of urban forestry in Kathmandu Valley, urban dwellers are increasingly recognising and articulating the importance of urban forest as a vital component of urban landscape, infrastructure, and quality of life.

Urban forest refers to greenery management in the urban area that enhances urban aesthetics, ecological balance, quality of public spaces for recreation, thus fostering harmonious relationship between humans and nature.

“Efforts are being made to promote urban forestry as well as to preserve open spaces in public places, schools, and even in private home gardens. Such initiatives are praiseworthy,” it said.

“For instance, with an effort to conserve forest areas, the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation has declared Forest Decade (2015-2025) with the theme ‘One house, one tree; one village, one forest; one city,one park’,” the report added.

Kathmandu Metropolitan City has provisioned that all new households allocate space for at least two trees. The Planning Guidelines, 2015 also has a provision to declare public and government-owned open spaces as ‘green areas’ to promote urban forest in the Valley.

With the collective efforts of government agencies, private sectors and local communities several tree plantation campaigns are under way in Kathmandu Valley. The plantation and maintenance of approximately 700 trees and shrubs along the 350 metre Maitighar–Tinkune road length is an example of urban forest management initiatives through the collaborative approach of public and private sectors.

Among the government  agencies, District Forest Office has established two nurseries in Godavari and Bajrabarahi that have provision of free distribution of seedlings for plantation activities. In addition, with the concept of green economy which has a huge potential for the promotion of urban forest to achieve the vision and mission of the 20-year SDMP.

According to National Urban Development Strategy published by the Ministry of Urban Development, the forest cover is only three per cent in Kathmandu against 10 per cent in Pokhara as of 2011. Urban forests provide greenery, reduce pollution and balance CO2 level, help control erosion, moderate temperature, preserve natural diversity, add to aesthetics of the city, provide open and social recreational space for  public, add value to the place and attract tourists.