Across the world, there are a wide variety of different types of protected areas with different levels of protection. We're delighted to report that ZSL's flagship site in Nepal, Parsa Wildlife Reserve, has now been upgraded to a National Park, an important step in the conservation of species like the Bengal tiger.
Protected Areas (PAs) are the cornerstone of global conservation efforts. From Mongolia’s Bogd Khan Mountain, arguably the world’s first large scale PA; to New Zealand’s Whanganui River, the first natural feature to be made a legal person; or the famous Yellowstone National Park, the first modern PA, they are a proven means of conserving the natural world in all its forms and the human values it underpins.
But not all PAs are equal. Across the world there are a wide variety of different types affording different levels of protection.
Many countries have their own hierarchy and the IUCN ranks PAs globally according to their level of protection. At the extremes, very ineffective PAs are often known as ‘paper parks’ as they exist only ‘on paper’ and achieve nothing in reality. Very effective PAs, however, can sustain large self-regulating ecosystems and populations of ‘megafauna’, such as elephants.
The Government of Nepal recently upgraded Parsa Wildlife Reserve, a globally significant Bengal tiger area and site of substantial long-term ZSL investment, to become Parsa National Park.
This is an enormously significant step in its effective conservation, in particular for its megafauna, including the thriving tiger population. The increased protection and profile of Parsa will support populations of key species to keep growing and allow the ecological health of its forests to be restored and maintained. This is recognised by the uplifting of Parsa from IUCN PA category IV to category II.
This decision to upgrade the site was made on the basis of substantial successes. Growing populations of priority species such as gaur, sambar and tiger were critical. Parsa’s management authority reported the doubling of the Parsa tiger population last year, following many years of dedicated work towards this.
Improved infrastructure was also a key element in the decision, following DNPWC, ZSL and other partners’ substantial investments in improving the park infrastructure, from patrol roads to watch towers, and even tourism infrastructure helping to build conservation support from local communities.
Finally, the eastward expansion of Parsa in 2015, strongly supported by ZSL, played a crucial role in elevating the status and conservation potential of Parsa and so leading to this substantial increase in protection.
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