Concept of Eco-Tourism and green tourism and their role in sustainable development of the himachal Pradesh
The majestic coniferous trees from an enchanting backdrop to the mountains with broad-leafed species like the Oaks, Maples, Birdcherry, Hazelnut, Walnut, Horsechestnut and Rhododendrons adding grandeur to the landscape. Whereas the ivies clinging to the trunks of stately Cedars appear to veil secrets of Nature, the vines flowing from atop the trees seem to invite the visitors with open arms. The violas popping up from under the forest floor and the riot of colors provided by the anemones, primulas, buttercups and many other herbs in the alpine meadows lay a colorful feast before eyes of the beholder.
Besides plants, the State also provides a very congenial habitat to a wide variety of Himalayan fauna. The Himalyan Tahar and the Ibex can be spotted as silhouettes on the high ridges in the trans-Himalayas. The Brown Bear and Musk Deer roam happily in the temperate forests, in the company of colorful pheasants including the Monal, the Western Hornes Tragopan, the Koklas and the Kalij. The lucky ones can even be treated to rare sight of critically endangered species like the Snow Leopard and Snow Cock.
The State, live to the need for providing better opportunities to the visitors to enjoy its natural beauty and cultural heritage, now aims to allow the use of its infrastructure for the benefit of the tourists.
The State Forest Department alone manages more than 400 forest bungalows located at vantage-points across the length and breadth of the State. It also manages a 5000 kilometers long network of bridle paths and inspection trails criss-crossing through the most beautiful forests of the State. This gives visitors myriad opportunities to trek across mountain passes, to remote temples, crystal clear lakes and traditional villages. These facilities beckon the young and the old alike to come and enjoy the best of Himachal Pradesh in all its splendour. To assist the tourists, the State Forest Department is actively engaged in identification and development of ecotreks along these bridle paths. ‘Nature Parks’ are also being developed to provide tourists a nature education experience. The ‘eco-tourism’ – a tourism that is ecologically sustainable and culturally sensitive, and that provides insights to the tourists into natural beauty and cultural richness of the State.
Great Himalayan National Park
Located in Kullu district, this National Park is a prime protected area of the country and provides opportunities to the ecotourists to enjoy nature at its best. To be covered entirely on foot, the Park has well developed eco-treks taking off from an altitude of about 1500 meters to more than 6000 meters. The park has many forest bungalows and tenting sites for nights halts. Private guest rooms in traditional housed are also being developed. Prior permission of park Director is required to visit the park. Local guides and porters are available.
Himalayan Nature Park
Located at an altitude of 2700 meters and about 18 kilometers from Shimla on the Hindustan-Tibet Road, this Nature Park covers about 100 hectares of prime Western-Himalayan temperate forest with all its floral diversity. The nature park also houses high altitude fauna of the State in near natural habitat and provides the visitors a one stop opportunity to appreciate Brown Bear, Musk Deer, Yak, Bharal, Sambhar, Ghoral, Monal pheasant and many other animals and birds. The park also offers 3-6 hour guided trek to mahasu peak and catchment forests and has limited lodging facilities.
Renuka Wildlife Sanctuary
Renuka wildlife sanctuary clothes the slopes around the picturesque Renuka lake in the outer Himalayas with deciduous forest cover. Attractions include ancient temples of rishi Jamdagni, goddess Renuka and lord Parshuram, a lion safari, a mini zoo and trekking. Boating facilities are available in the lake. Limited lodging facilities are also available.
The Revised Eco-Tourism Policy 2016 aims at bringing the wilderness and virgin ecosystems of Himachal Pradesh closer to visitors and at the same time ensure adequate safeguards and systems for the protection and conservation of these natural resources. By involving local community, the policy would help in increased livelihood opportunities as well as their involvement in awareness building, protection and conservation. It also envisages generation of financial returns which can be ploughed back into proper up keep and maintenance of the environment. It shall also promote greater understanding and appreciation for natural and cultural heritage.
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