Shivapuri National Park is an excellent representative site of the ecosystems of middle hills of Nepal. Proper management of the park is necessary to contribute for ecological balance, stabilization of water sources and livelihood improvement of the peripheral population and the capital of the Nepal.
The main objectives of the park are:
· to conserve ecosystem and biodiversity of mid hills,
· to protect the water regime of the watershed, and
· to enhance the livelihood of surrounding people.
Many specific objectives can be set to fulfill the above main objectives.
Shivapuri National Park is located on the northern fringes of the Kathmandu Valley. Headquarter of the park Panimuhan is located at about 12 km from the downtown Ratna Park of Kathmandu. The Park covers an area of 144 km2 adjoining to the 23 VDCs from Kathmandu (12), Nuwakot (9) and Sindhupalchok (2) Districts. Elevation range of the Park is from 1000m to 2732 m (at Shivapuri Peak). The Park not only provides scenic beauty but also makes significant contribution to the drinking water supply to the Kathmandu valley.
The Shivapuri range remained a major source of fuelwood, fodder and other forest products for the surrounding population. With continuous increase in population of the Kathmandu Valley, degradation of the Shivapuri area got worst during early eighties due to the phenomenon of "Tragedy of the Commons". Shivapuri forests were cut and over exploited to meet the increased demand for fuelwood, fodder and timber of the Valley people. Steep lands were also used for cultivation for more food and shelter. Due to the combined impact of deforestation and cultivation on the steep slopes, soil erosion and watershed degradation were prominent problems to the Shivapuri. These erosion and watershed degradation problems possessed serious threat to the quantity and quality of the drinking water produced from the area.
The protection of the current National Park started from as early as 1976 when HMG realized that further degradation of the Shivapuri watersheds would be detrimental to protection of vital water sources. The same year HMG initiated Shivapuri Watershed Development Project. To overcome these problems, His Majesty's Government of Nepal constituted the Shivapuri Watershed Area Development Board and launched various rehabilitative and preventive measures to protect Shivapuri in 1976. In 1982 the Shivapuri Protected Watershed Area was declared under the Soil and Watershed Conservation Act, and in 1984 it was declared as the Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve. At the same time the Shivapuri Watershed Area Development Board was converted to Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve Development Board, which was abolished from the decision of Council of Ministers of HMG dated 2057/6/13 (September 2000) and later on followed with the declaration of the National Park on 2058/11/6 (18 February 2002).
Wild flora and fauna
Castanopsis, Pines, Oaks, and Rhododendrons are the dominant vegetation in the park. After the conservation of Shivapuri area since 1976, forest cover has been increasing with its growing stock and species diversity. At present, the park consist of 2122 flowering plants with 16 endemic plants (Shakya et al., 1997 and Shrestha and Joshi, 1996). In the park area eight threatened mammal species (BPP, 1995), 177 bird species including nine threatened such as Falco severus, common tailor bird (Orthotonus sutorius), and Orange-bellied leaf bird (Chloropsis hardwickii). 102 species of butterfly including a very rare and endangered one Kaise-I-Hind (Teinopalpus imperalis), susceptible endemic sub-species Oryolyce vardhana nepalica (Smith 1996), 129 species of mushroom including previously unknown Lactarius pleuritides. and the rare relict Himalayan Dragonfly (Epiophlebia laidla) are also found in the park.
The major mammals found in the park are Leopard (Panthera pardus), Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), Clouded leopard (Pardofelis nubulosa), Wild boar, Porcupine, Barking deer, Squirrel, Common Monkey, Indian hare, Indian crested porcupine, Himalayan goral, Himalayan black bear, Yellow-throated marten.
Geologically, the park area lies in the Inner Himalaya region. The dominant rocks are gneiss and migmatite with mica schist and pegmatic granite. The main soil types are loamy sand on the northern sides to sandy loam on the southern slopes in the area. Entire area is characterized by its steep topography. More than 50 per cent of the area has greater than 30 per cent slope.
Hydrology and Drainage System
Shivapuri ridge forms part of the middle mountain region of Nepal with elevations ranging from high of 2732 m above msl atop the Shivapuri peak, to a low of less than 1000m above mean sea level at the northern park boarder. The area is comprised of several watersheds drained by Bagmati, Bishnumati and a number of smaller streams, which provides much of the water vital to the inhabitants of the Kathmandu valley.
Water yields from the Project area is heavily influenced by the monsoon rainfall pattern. Typically over 80% of the annual precipitation is received during the rainy season, which normally occurs between mid June and late September. Hence much of the stream flow as well as peak discharges, occur during the rainy period.
Drinking Water Source
Shivapuri area is one of the main sources of drinking water for the Kathmandu metropolitans. About 30 million litres of water per day is tapped from the Bagmati, Syalmati, Bishnupmati, Nagmati, Sangla, Mahadeva and Tusal Khola. There are reservoirs at Sundarijal, Panimuhan, Tokha, Alle, Dhakalchaur and Panchmane to supply water to the Kathmandu Valley. The quality of water originated from the Park is clean and pollution free except from some places. Water from above mentioned streams can also be used for irrigation during the dry season.
The land use pattern of Shivapuri area shows that forest is still the major land use type. Similarly, agriculture land is also there inside the park since two settlements such as Mulkharka, Okhreni is within the park. Other land uses such as settlements, shrub land, grassland and so on (landslides, riverine features and abandoned lands) contributes some part in the land use of the park.
Culture and religion
The Shivapuri area is important for its cultural and religious heritage. Several important places for Hindus and Buddhists are situated inside the Park. In the Nepali New Year's Day in mid April, many pilgrims take holy shower at the spring sources of the sacred rivers, Bagmati and Bishnumati, locally called Bagdwar and Bishnudwar, respectively. Sleeping Bishnu, Budha Nilkantha also lies near the Shivapuri, which is very famous to Hindu pilgrims. Other important places in the Park are Manichur, Kageswori, Tarkeshwor Mahadevasthans, Shivapuri Peak, and Sundarijal.
The main trekking route to Helambu passes through the Park from Sundarijal. Impressive views of the high Himalayas towards the North, Nagarkot towards the East, Nagarjun towards the West and Kathmandu valley, Phulchowki, Chandragiri towards the South can be seen from the Shivapuri Peak.
Since Shivapuri National Park is easily accessible from Kathmandu city, it attracts many visitors and tourists. Trekking is the most common attraction for visitors and tourists. (About Sundari Jal)
There are many popular trekking routes within the park. Trekking routes to Gosaikunda, Helambu, Nagarkot and Langtang National park also pass through the Shivapuri peak.
Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) is solely responsible for the security of the Park. There were 21 guard posts under a battalion. Some guard posts are not functional in this time due to present situation of the country. But thorough patrolling by park staff and RNA jointly or separately has been conducting daily inside and around the park. Shivapuri National Park has its headquarter at Pani Muhan, two Sector Offices at Manichur and Dhakal Chaur and 6 entry/gate posts at Kakani, Tokha, Panimuhan, Sundarijal, Jhule and Chisapani.
BPP, Biodiversity Profiles Project, 1995, Red Data Book of the Fauna of Nepal, Publication No. 4, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Shakya, P. R. Adhikari, M., Rajbhandari, K. R., Choudhary, R. P., and Shrestha, K. K., 1997, Flora of Nepal - Country Paper presented at the International Seminar cum Workshop on Flora of Nepal, 15-16 april 1997, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Shrestha, T. B. and Joshi, R. M., 1996, Rare, Endemic and Endangered Plants of Nepal, WWF Nepal Program, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Smith C., 1996, Database of Recordings of Nepal's Butterflies, Annapurna Museum, Prithivi Narayan Campus, Pokhara, Nepal. (Unpublished)