Manij Upadhyay's picture
Posted by Manij Upadhyay

Panchase Protected Forest lies in the nine Village Development Committees of Kaski, Parbat and Syangja districts of Western development region. 'Panchase' which literally means 'Five Seats', is the meeting place of 5 peaks. The region has great biological, cultural, and religious diversities and natural beauty as well. It represents an important Middle Mountain’s ecological zone which is less addressed amongst the country's protected area system and is only one corridor linkage of Lowland (Chitwan–Nawalparasi) and of Annapurna Himalaya range. Panchase Protected Forest is gazette in 2012 with an area of 57.76 sq kilometer. The forest has characterized by sub-tropical and temperate vegetation. Altitudes vary from 1450 meter to 2517 meter. A famous historical lake 'Panchase' is situated at the altitude of 2,250 meter of the area.

Vegetation

The Panchase region is very rich in plants diversity. There are five major forest types; Alder Forest, Chir Pine Broad Leaved Forest, East Himalayan Oak-Laurel Forest, Lower Temperate Oak Forest, and Schima-Castanopsis Forest. Kharsu (Quereus semecarpefolia), Phalat (Quercus species) and Lali Gurans (Rhododendron arboretum) are major species at the upper part of the area whereas Chilaune (Schima walichii), Katus (Castanopsis indica), Rakchan (Daphniphyllum himalayense) and Sal (Shoerea robusta) found at the lower belt.

There are more than 589 flowering plant species recorded in Panchase Forest. 107 species of medicinal plants, 8 species of fiber yielding plants, 23 species of natural dye yielding plants; 18 wild species potential for floriculture (except Orchids ), 56 species of wild Mushroom, and 98 species of ferns are found in the area. This region is commonly known as Kingdom of wild Orchids. Among the 412 species of orchid reported in Nepal, 113 species of orchid have been found in the Panchase region including two endemic species (Panisea Panchasenensis and Eria Pokharensia ) and 35 species with high commercial value.

Wild animals found in the forest area are Asian Black Bear (Selenarcto thibetanus), Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Jungle Cat (Felis chaus), Fox (Vulpus vulpus), Jackal (Canis aerus), Wolf (Cania lupua), Monkey (Macaca mulata), Rabit, Mongoose etc. 8 species of Bat are recorded in this region.

Similarly, Nepali Kalij, Wild Cock, Koel, Red Whiskered Bulbul, Crow, Hawk, Owl, Sparrow are the most common birds found in the area. Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo) and Parrot (Psittacula himalayana) are important migratory birds also found in the area.

The lower belt of Panchase hill forest nearby the settlement is being managed by local people as community forest and upper land forest in the Panchase hill is kept as protected. 

Water Resources

Panchase Forest is the source of several streams/khola. The prominent ones are Harpan Khola, Rati Khola, Aandi Khola, Mahabir Khola, Sawan Khola, Jare Khola, Ghatte Khola, and Tuni Khola. Among them, Harpan Khola is the main feeder stream of Phewa Lake. This Lake is the major source of Phewa hydropower and also a source of livelihoods for the people of Lakeside Pokhara and surrounding area. Similarly, the stream from Panchase has been the source of drinking water and irrigation canals for adjoining settlements.

The protection activities in upland area have considerably reduced soil erosion, sedimentation, and flooding in the downstream. As upland communities rarely receive the benefits of the environmental services they provide, now it is realized how environmental service- transfer- payments can best be implemented to improve environment condition and the livelihoods of upland communities in the area.

Historical and Cultural Value 

Panchase is an ancient pilgrimage climb. The Shidda Baba Temple, Homekunda, Balaji Phachyan Temple, and Bouddha Stupas (about 200 years old) are the remarkable religious sites in the region. The 'Panchase Lake' is considered as a famous site for religious pilgrimage for the people of the area during "Balchaturdasi" in November. Similarly Sarwan Kumar’s Samadi Temple is also one of the key cultural attractions of the area. 

Socio-cultural features

A large part of the area in the region is covered by forest and pasture land. The settlements are situated from the lower to middle part of the Panchase hill. The total population of inner nine VDCs is 31,022 covering 6,506 household.

The main castes and ethnic groups in the region include Brahmin, Chhetri, Gurung, Kami, Damai and Sarki. Agricultural production, livestock raising and forest resources are main sources of livelihood of the local people in this region.

People from villages surrounding Panchase Hill take their livestock, mainly buffaloes to higher pasture, these systems are commonly known as Goth (huts used by herders). Currently, there are more than eight Goths only in the Panchase hill. These Goths are used for raising their livestock permanently. In fact, there is a tradition to leave buffaloes temporarily in the higher pasture called Lekh and bring them back to the village once they begin milking. They earn money by selling milk, ghee and young male buffalo.

Potential for tourism

Mountain range visible from Panchase includes Mt. Dhawalagiri (8,172m), Mt. Annapurna I (8,091m) Mt Annapurna South (7,219m), Mt Hiuchuli (6,441m) Mt.Fishtail (6993m), Mt. Annapurna II(7,934m), Mt Annapurna III (7575m), Mt Annapurna IV(7525m) and Mt Lamjung (6,998m). It also provides the panoramic view of the sunrise and sunset, and area of wilderness. Snow fall during the winter (December and January) makes the peak more beautiful.

View tower at the Panchse peak, stone foot trail along the Panchase route, natural springs, ethnic Gurung culture and local Home Stay could equally be the attractions for tourists.

Issues for conservation

  • The extensive use of forest for various proposes has led the forest towards degradation.
  • Thousands of livestock, mainly buffaloes freely graze round the year under the open grazing systems.
  • Michelia champaca, Prunus and Texus of the core forest area are on the verge of extinction and the numbers of Orchid species are also declining from the forest.
  • Threat to wildlife population due to an increasing poaching in the forest.
  • Soil eroding and sedimentation towards the Phewa Lake is also one of the major problems of the area.

Management Vision, Goal and objectives 

To overcome above conservation issues Department of Forest is implementing Panchase Protected Forest Program through the Panchase Protected Forest Council in the nine VDCs of the area.

Vision

“Sustainable Management of biodiversity, cultural and watershed areas as well as Livelihood promotion of local community”

Goal   

“Sustainable management of biodiversity, water resources and ecotourism through participatory management approach ensuring environmental stability and livelihood promotion of local people”

The program’s objectives are:

  • community based sustainable management of flora, fauna, habitat and micro ecosystem; wise use of forest products and conservation of natural beauty of the vicinity,
  • community based ecotourism and creation of environment friendly jobs in order to improve livelihood of local people.
  • participatory watershed management within Protected Forest, ensuring mutual relationship between up-stream and down-stream by establishing payment for environmental system.

Programs

To meet the goal and objectives following programs have been given priority.

  • Sustainable Community Forest Management
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Soil and Watershed  Conservation
  • Local livelihood Enhancement
  • Human Resource and Capacity Development

How to get there

Pokhara is the headquarter of Kaski district and the city has regular air and land transportation facilities from Kathmandu. The Panchase hill can be reached by travelling partly (2-4 hours) on metalled all weather roads, partly on seasonal motorable earthen roads, and walking distance of 2-4 hours from each of three districts headquarter  Pokhara, Syangja and Parbat.

Code of Conduct

  • Flora and Fauna are fully protected and must not be disturbed.
  • Camping inside the forest should be made only at the designated areas.
  • Do not purchase illegal animals or plant products.
  • Do not make fire and discourage wood fire
  • Rubbish must be packed out, buried or disposed of in designated areas.
  • Ask with people before photographing them, respect their privacy.
  • Be sensitive to local cultural heritage.
  • Contribute to local economy, use local products and services.
  • Encourage home stay, tea house and small lodges along the trails

For more information, please contact:

Government of Nepal
Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation
Department of Forest
Panchase Protected Forest Program
Kaski, Syangja and Parbat
Phone:061-622652
Email: panchase@mail.com

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