Students, teachers and the local community celebrated International Biodiversity Day 2016 at Mechi Janasadharan Higher Secondary School, Bahundangi, Jhapa on May 22, 2016.
The occasion initiated lemon farming at Bahundangi as a strategy to support community livelihoods. As per the assumption that the lemon farms are not destroyed by elephants in case they enter into the farms, one hundred lemon seedlings were planted on the land owned by the school. Prior to planting, interested people from the community of Bahundangi visited the lem-on farm at Sunsari and met the owner Dhalu Ram Tharu. Mr Tharu was invited to participate planting the seedlings at the celebration along with older students who brought green manure from home and also helped out.
The programme was organised in two sessions. In the first session, biodiversity experts Prof. Ram P Chaudhary and Prof. Khadga Basnet discussed the importance of biodiversity. Mr. Subedi, District Forest Office (DFO) Jhapa and the chief guest talked about the importance of biodi-versity to livelihoods and conservation. Mr. Tharu talked about the feasibility of lemon farming and potential cost-benefit analysis. Notebooks and pens were handed over to the school by KLCDI team to distribute to the students whenever needed.
In the second session, community members, students, teachers, DFO and team from Kathmandu all participated in planting the lemon seedlings.
The community learned about farming methods and potential income from lemon farming. The the seedlings will be provided to the community once they’ve met outlined criteria: first priority for elephant victimized families, second priority for the families whose farms were damaged by elephants, and third priority for the land holders along an established electric fence, and fourth to interested households. It was agreed the Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Committee would distribute the seedlings in coordination with DFO. KLCDI committed technical and finan-cial support and monitoring of the initiative.
The celebration day was proposed under the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and De-velopment Initiative (KLCDI), Research Centre for Applied Science and Technology (RECAST) with Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). A team from RECAST joined the function along with District Forest Of-ficer, Bodhraj Subedi. The programme was coordinated by Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Committee chaired by Dundiraj Poudel.