1st Progress Report for the ECOCLUB.com Funded Project "Visitors Resource Centre for Ecotourism" in Jamuna Village, Ilam District, Nepal, Oct. 1,2010

Submitted by: Sunil Shakya, Program Coordinator, Red Panda Network, Nepal
P.O. Box 21477, Kathmandu, Nepal Email: sunil[at]redpanda.org.np
http://www.redpanda.org.np

In the context of the project "Visitors Resource Centre", winner of the ECOCLUB.com Awards 2010, hereby we present the 1st Project Progress Report:

PROJECT SITE DESCRIPTION

Jamuna Village Development Committee (VDC) is one of 48 VDCs of Ilam district of Nepal. It has 9 wards. The community of ward number 8 and 9 has taken responsibility of managing Choyatar Community Forest. The Community Forest (CF) has been developed as community managed red panda based ecotourism for the first time in Nepal.

Choyatar Community Forest User Groups (CFUG) which is an authorized body for management and utilization of the forest has formed a sub group called Choyatar Red Panda Tourism Management Group (CRTMG). The CRTMG is made responsible to look and manage after all the tourism related activities. These two groups have shown extreme commitment over and are expanding outreach. These groups consist of young people and a good balance of gender. Even in the initial stage, local involvement in conservation actions is appreciative and hopefully it gradually increases as people begin to see benefits that are derived from these activities.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Approval from the SWC:
An approval from the Social Welfare Council (SWC) Nepal was obtained to conduct the project in the project site. This has made easy for us to work in the project site. The approval letter can be seen below:

11


Inception meeting:
An inception meeting was successfully conducted in Ingla, Jamuna (the project site) on 1st September 2010. The participants were informed about the objectives and the working modality of the project. The participants were excited to participate and support the project. Red Panda Network Nepal will support them in establishing the Visitors' Information Center and The Choyatar Red Panda Tourism Management Group formed under Chyoatar Community Forest Users Committee agreed to hire one personnel who take care of the information center. The Group decided to establish information center in Kumar Gurung's house. It is located at Meghbarne and the GPS location of the house is 27.01339N and 87.99890E.

The community is also under process of building a community building. But they have not decided the location yet. But once the location is fixed, they will start constructing a building. When the building is completed the resource center will be transferred to that building. There were 22 participants present in the meeting. The participant's list is given below:

Participants of the Inception Meeting, Ingla, Jamuna
Date: 1st September 2010
Venue: Ingla, Jamuna
1. Nir Bahadur Gurung
2. Punya Prasad Khatiwada
3. Garja Man rai
4. Kumar Gurung
5. Udaya Gurung
6. Wangdi Sherpa
7. Thom Bahadur Tiwari
8. Youbraj Bhandari
9. Shyam Tiwari
10. Lila Bahadur Thami
11. Man Kumar Rai
12. Niru Diyali
13. Hem Kumari Rai
14. Dammar Gurung
15. Kebal Rai
16. Jeet Maya Rai
17. Damodar Bhattarai
18. Khadga Bahadur Gurung
19. Saraswati Rai
20. Tika Kumari Gurung
21. Kamal Kandel
22. Kul Bahadur Khamdak

22
The inception meeting at Ingla, Jamuna VDC, Ilam

Map of Habitat zonation:
Choyatar Community Forest is one of the suitable habitats of red pandas. The forest was already divided into 3 blocks. In order for proper management of the forest and to maintain the sustainability of tourism, the block 1 is divided into 3 sub-blocks. The sub-block A is named as Ghumaune Pani Sano Dundh, sub-block B is named as Thambale Choyatar Bhitte and sub-block C is named as Ekle Pakha Ghumti Kholsi. The CRTMG had made a provision to take the visitors (maximum number five) into those sub-blocks in a rotational basis. This was a wise decision to minimize negative impacts to the forest.

The block 1, named Choyatar, is suitable block for visitors to watch red panda. So the community has also declared the block as "Red panda Conservation Zone" and strictly prohibited to collect forest products from this block.

33

The Map of Zonation of Choyatar Community Forest

The sub-blocking was made in consultation with the community. The community is very knowledgeable about the geographical location of the forest. Thus based on their knowledge the sub-blocking of the Choyatar Block (block 1) was made. The community can collect their forest products from Thambale Block (block 2) and Lamijhod Block (block 3) as per their Forest Operational Plan.

Below are photos showing the three "social mapping groups":

44

55

66

ACTIVITIES UNDER WAY:
The room for information center has already declared in the inception meeting. The office set up process is undergoing. The CRTMG has ordered for office table and cupboard. The local carpenter has started making of it.

Showing the date-wise activities of the project

PROGRESS SO FAR:

Date

Activities

Description

27-Aug-10

Preparation for inception meeting

Informed all the relevant stakeholders from Ingla, Jamuna for inception meeting

30-Aug-10

Arrival in the project site

Project team reached at Ingla, the project site

1-Sep-10

Inception Meeting

Meeting held between the members of Choyatar Community Forest Users Committee and Choyatar Red Panda Tourism Management Group and forest users. There were 22 participants present in the meeting. Open discussion was conducted to inform about the project, its goals, activities and mode of implementation. Feedback from the participants was collected at the end of the meeting.

1-Sep-10

Establishment of Resource Center

Discussion with local people was also carried out regarding the location of Resource center.  Decision was made to establish the red panda resource center at Kumar Gurung’s house. It is located at Meghbarne and the GPS location of the house is 27.01339N and 87.99890E.

10-Sep-10

Forest zonation and mapping

The participants were divided into 4 groups and each group was provided with marker pens and brown sheets. The groups were asked to draw a map of the forest and indicate three blocks as in their forest operational plan and further asked them to demarcate the red panda zone as per their knowledge and experience. This zone was declared as Red Panda Conservation Zone.

For further management of the zone, the groups were asked to sub-block it with regards to equal availability of the habitat and frequency of sign and individual sightings. Each group presented their maps and feedbacks were collected from all the participants. With consensus from all the participants a final social map with 3 sub-blocks in Red Panda Conservation Zone was prepared.

The social map drawn by the participants was then digitized and with the help of GIS software digital map of the forest was produced.

CONCLUSION

The initiation of the project is satisfactory. There was an active participation and cooperation from the community. If this cooperation is continued, the project will be completed as designed and within the schedule.