Planting Trees for Tomorrow in Nepal

In an effort to restore rural landscapes, Himalayan Nature – a non-profit organization based in Kathmandu – has initiated a project named “Trees for Tomorrow” which undertakes to plant trees in areas that have been stripped of these vital elements of the environment. Trees are of utmost importance as they purify the air we breathe, while providing food and shelter for birds, wildlife, and even other plants. Unrestricted logging over the years has resulted in vast areas of forest being destroyed – a situation Himalayan Nature and its supporters hope to reverse with the assistance of local communities.

Starting in 2010, the organization has planted a number of Bombax ceiba trees in the Dang district of Nepal where a community-managed vulture feeding point is located. One of the staff members at this eco-friendly vulture restaurant has the responsibility of taking care of the trees, while another staff member is tasked with monitoring the forest area around the vulture restaurant in the Nawalparasi community. Vultures are scavengers and generally feed on the leftovers of animals killed by predators, or who have died through illness or old age. While they are immune to various toxins and bacteria that occur naturally in a rotting carcass, they cannot tolerate the chemical diclofenac and are likely to die after eating parts of an animal that has been treated with this commonly used veterinary medicine. This has become a real problem in Nepal and other Asian countries, and the feeding points have been set up to provide vultures with uncontaminated food.

The Bombax ceiba, also known as the semal, shimul, kapok or cotton tree, is the preferred tree species for roosting and nesting for these endangered birds. Other bird species that favor the semal tree include the Indian Spotted Eagle, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle and the Lesser Adjutant Eagle, all of which are considered to be of global concern from a conservation standpoint. Due to the commercial value of these trees, many have been logged, reducing the availability of roosting and nesting sites. It is anticipated, that the “Trees for Tomorrow” project will help boost the numbers of vultures in Nepal by restoring their habitat.