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Include park for heritage tag: Panel

Manas National Park

Guwahati, June 18: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has told India that it should exclude the encroached areas of Manas National Park first if it wanted to put the park on the Unesco World Heritage list. 

At present, only the park’s wildlife sanctuary features on the list, not the entire 
park. 

The IUCN is an organisation that works in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
The organisation has stated this in its evaluation report on the boundary modification proposal of Manas National Park before the 41st World Heritage Committee which will be held in July. 

However, the recommendation has already been prescribed to the World Heritage Committee.

Tim Badman, the director of the IUCN’s World Heritage Programme, told The Telegraph that the conservation body has recommended the inclusion of Manas National Park, rather than just its wildlife sanctuary, on the Unesco World Heritage list.

However, in that case, the encroached territories — mostly crop land and areas occupied by local residents — should be excluded from the areas nominated.

Manas wildlife sanctuary is spread over an area of 391 square km in the national park, which is spread over  850 square km. 

The wildlife sanctuary was upgraded to a national park in 1990. During that time, the IUCN had asked India to submit a proposal to obtain the Unesco World Heritage tag for the national park. 

India had submitted its application in 2011, following which the conservation body started studying the park.

The IUCN observed that there was a problem with the central government’s proposal as some of the proposed new areas of the park were significantly encroached. 

The encroached areas are Panbari, Kokilabari and Bhuyanpara. The possible inclusion of these areas in the park’s territory would probably create complications for the future conservation reports on the property, the report noted.

The IUCN said it was concerned that these encroached areas do not meet the necessary requirement, and might generate issues with the stakeholders whose crops are grown on the encroached land. 

The area of Manas National Park was further extended in August last year by including the Chirang reserve forest.

The IUCN said only those parts of the park should be included which meet the integrity requirements in the property, while the encroached areas would come under the buffer zone.

The organisation has also  requested for full details regarding the relationships of  rights-holders related to the cropland areas within the national park.

The World Heritage Committee said the state of conservation report of the national park lacked information on the use of fire in the park that is a threat to invasive species such as Bombax ceiba, a kind of cotton tree. 

It had requested the park authorities to undertake or commission a detailed study on this matter to ensure that the use of fire does not further cause damage to the forest.

An eviction drive was carried out on December 22 last year in the Bhuyanpara range of the park. Some 1,600 hectares of the encroached areas were cleared during that drive. Sources said the encroachers have returned, derailing the process.


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