Rationalization Of P.A. Boundaries And Improvement Of The P.A. Network

With the exception of the Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, which includes Khangchendzonga National Park and its buffer zone areas, all PAs are small and occupy mountain tops surrounded by reserved forests, khasmal, or farms and settlements. By extending the PAs and gazetting them as national parks, three distinct advantages will incur: 
  • biological stability will be secured through large parks and their connectivity through reserved forests, khasmal ( public forest land for timber, firewood and fodder of adjourning villages), and gorucharan (public forest land for grazing of cattle of the adjourning villages); 
  • revenue will be generated through ecotourism because the designation of an area as a ?national park? would attract travel and tourism trade; and 
  • Sikkim?s PA network will meet international standards.

Extension and Rationalization of Protected and Primary Forest Area Boundaries
To redefine and extend the PA boundaries, and to select pristine primary forest areas for protection, the following activities will be carried out: 
  • examination of rationale and possibility of expanding protected areas through a detailed study of the distribution, movements, and migratory behavior of birds and animals, and the distribution patterns of plant species; 
  • examination of the socioeconomic conditions and perceptions of the forest fringe communities regarding the rationalization of forest categories and boundaries through surveys and stakeholder consultations, 
  • rationalization of protected area and reserved forest boundaries based on results obtained from the study and stakeholder consultations; 
  • establishment of management zones in the protected areas consistent with the compartment-based zoning system applied to the reserved forests; and 
  • survey, demarcation, and gazetting of rationalized PAs and reserved forests.

The consent and support of forest fringe communities must be obtained to stabilize rationalized protected area boundaries. To this end, the rationalization and subsequent management of protected and reserved forests must be mutually beneficial to both the communities and the Forest Department. The state has large number of monasteries which are devoted to cultural ethos of the people of the state. These contains sizeable amount of natural forest. The religious forests need to be protected for biodiversity conservation since they contain sacred groups and wildlife as well. There are institutions attached to these monasteries and students undergoing religious discourses needs to be encouraged to understand the value of such religious forest.

Establishment of Protected Area Boundary Pillars
To arrest land encroachment and the degradation of wildlife habitats in the PAs, concrete pillars, preferably at 20 m intervals, should be erected in areas where PA boundaries adjoin private land. In total, 750 pillars will be installed along 15 km of PA boundaries where a PA shares boundaries with private land. The Project must consult with and obtain consent from the concerned forest fringe communities prior to the erection of the pillars.

Establishment of New Protected Area
The Forest Department has recently proposed Nimphu Wildlife Sanctuary (approximately 200 km2) and Fairrieanum Conservation Reserve (orchid reserve, and approximately 0.6 km2). Using the new information obtained for establishing the management information base, these two PAs will be re-surveyed by the Forest Department to set the boundaries so that they are notified accurately. The procedures to be followed for establishing the two national parks are the same as the procedures described in (a) above. Cho Lahmu Desert National Park (approximately 500 km2) is also proposed, but as there are military related issues due to the international boundary with the adjacent country, at this stage, it is not clear whether this park can be registered as protected area in the future.

Improvement and Monitoring of the Protected Area Management Plans
The Forestry Department developed ten-year PA management plans for the period 2008/09-2017/18. The project will support the implementation, improvement, and monitoring and evaluation of the plans to bring the management of the protected areas in Sikkim up to the international level. Periodical review of the plans will be mandated. Especially every 5 years, currently the management plans are updated with the approval of MOEF. Furthermore, if there are no major modifications, management plans are updated every year. In this connection, taking this opportunity, findings from the biodiversity baseline surveys and other studies supported under the Project shall be reflected in the management plans, in a timely manner. Based on the reviews, modification, addition, and deletion of planned activities and the application of methodologies will be considered. The coordination and integration of the PA management plans with the working plans for reserved forests should be considered in order to manage the biodiversity resources across protected areas, reserved forests, khasmal, and gorucharan managed by the Forest Department. Experts outside of the Forest Department will be mobilized to monitor and evaluate results of the implementation and to provide recommendations for the improving the plans. Moreover, the management plans also include resettlement of inhabitants as these people have been living in the area from even before the time protected areas have been registered. Nevertheless such related activities shall not be supported by JICA under the Project. However, such issues shall be addressed by the Forest department with careful environmental and social considerations including appropriate compensation measures and public consultations etc.