When we see the word “sustainability”, the first thought that comes to our mind is the optimum utilization of present resources without compromising the needs of the future generations. This may sound like a definition from a textbook, but the fact remains that sustainability is important; whether it is written in big block letters on a billboard, spoken by a celebrity, or printed in black font in a children’s textbook. Sustainability is the need of the hour and to show solidarity for this concept, Nepal has taken a big step towards acknowledging and adopting a new and much needed form of tourism – Eco Tourism.
Tourism is one of the main attractions in Nepal, especially in the trekking months. Large crowds of visitors enthusiastically await a journey up the slopes of the mountain giants each year. Moreover, bursts of spiritual, recreational, and cultural festivities adorn the center of the country each year and play a pivotal role in enhancing the experience of the visiting trekkers and tourists. Nevertheless, this popularity in Nepal comes largely from the attitude developed towards sustainable tourism in the country. The meaning of this is simple: adopting eco-friendly approaches with the goal of not only maintaining a popular destination but also encouraging community development and the fulfilment of the local populace’s needs.
Due to the realizations that indigenous species of wildlife must be protected, the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act was born. Passed in 1973, this law brought about a nationwide epiphany about the significance of these exotic species. However, ecotourism did not take off until the Annapurna Conservation Area Project took form in 1986. Furthermore, to ensure a steady stream of revenue and to promote sustainable living for those communities living in protected areas, the Government of Nepal and WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Nepal, collaborated to pass the Sustainable Communities Initiative, which spans from Parsa Wildlife Reserve in the east to Shuklaphanta National Park in the west. Under this scheme, various lodges, women-led businesses, clinics, and other enterprises have come up to serve a dual purpose – that of being an income source and a medium through which healthier attitudes towards the environment can prosper. In fact, in the Amaltari region, around 10% of the profits from their businesses go towards maintaining their forests, keeping poachers away, and educating the younger generations on sustainable living. These initiatives have also lowered the poverty levels and alleviated living conditions of those who are stakeholders in the national parks and wildlife reserve projects. By providing them with an outlet for participating in important decisions, they have achieved a boost in their confidence and a channel for their creativity.