Nepal and India’s Infrastructure Rules are “Wildlife-Friendly,” but Not for Birds

Environmental News from India:

  • Various studies have shown that forest patches in the Indian subcontinent are increasingly being fragmented due to reasons such as the development of roads, power lines and railways.
  • Nepal’s newly introduced guidelines for infrastructure projects are aimed at making them less disruptive to wildlife, but conservationists say they fail to consider birds.
  • Linear infrastructure such as roads, railways and power lines, fragment dense forests that are home to birds, severely impacting them.
  • A recent study shows a higher diversity of bird species in a contiguous forest compared to a nearby isolated one that’s hemmed in by infrastructure projects.

Following pressure from conservationists and NGOs, Nepal’s government recently adopted guidelines to make infrastructure such as roads, dams and railway lines wildlife-friendly.

But not all wildlife have been included, with birds, especially those living in dense forests, likely to still be negatively impacted despite the mitigation measures.

The guidelines, issued in April, classify wildlife that could be impacted by infrastructure into five categories: small (such as tortoise, snakes and other reptiles and amphibians); small mammals (squirrels, rabbits, porcupines and civets); medium-sized animals (wild cats, dholes, hyenas and monkeys); big animals (rhinos, tigers, bears, deer and buffalo); and mega animals (wild elephants).

“Linear infrastructure such as roads and power lines severely impact birds, especially those that live in dense forests,” or forest specialist birds, said prominent Nepali ornithologist Hem Sagar Baral. “However, 90 out of 100 infrastructure projects in Nepal don’t take the potential impacts on birds into consideration,” he added.

“As tigers and rhinos get killed in collision with vehicular traffic, authorities tend to focus on these mega faunas when designing wildlife-friendly infrastructure,” Baral said. “Birds, who also suffer, mainly due to the fragmentation of their habitat, get little attention.”

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Source: Mongabay

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