Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), which is not accessible by road and source to four rivers, may soon get the world heritage tag despite opposition by local NGOs.
The park, with its eco-zones sprawls over 1,171 square km in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, has dense forest of walnut and oak.
A gateway to beautiful valleys of Dhel and Rolla, it home to most of the endangered animal and bird species in the Himalayas.
Reaching the park is an uphill trek of 15km and it will remain so if the park gets the prestigious heritage status. “No road will be built,” the government has assured in its submission to the United Nations body.
A team of experts from International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) on behalf of UNESCO recently visited the park and met local NGOs including Himalayan Niti, Sahara, and Friends of Tirthan near Banjar, who wanted alternative source of income for locals before the park gets the status.
“The (world heritage) tag should not mean depriving locals of their source of livelihood,” said Rajendra Chauhan of NGO Sahara.
Sanjeeva Pandey, an IFS officer, who has formed a group — friends of GHNP— says that number of community based approaches were under implementation for around 1,600 people. “Locals are reaping the benefits of eco-tourism,” he said.
The IUCN team led by Dr Graeme Worboys was impressed with the scientific resource the park could provide to study impacts of unique biodiversity of the region. The park is source of four rivers and has glaciers from 1,700 -6,100 metres.
“Its associated protected areas include evidence of past and current glaciation,” the government’s submission to UN says.