- NEPAL -
This conservation area filled with colorful birds is the last community forest within the city of Kathmandu.
Long-time residents of the Kathmandu Valley often lament the concrete jungle their city has become, but one green hillock in the shadow of the Himalayan foothills has been preserved. Once the site of religious retreats for Nepal’s kings, the Ranibari Community Forest is now an oasis of nature with footpaths that explore 17 acres of densely forested parkland.
The forest is most notable for the abundance of birds that make it their home, with more than 67 species regularly spotted here. Visitors can easily spy Alexandrine parakeets fluttering colorfully through the trees, black kites arguing with crows, or scarlet minivets frolicking in the canopy. And the extravagantly tailed red-billed blue magpies are one of the highlights of any birding trip to the forest. Fittingly, Bird Conservation Nepal has developed the forest as a bird and biodiversity conservation learning center.
Two main trails encircle the forest, one at the base which staves off the ever encroaching city development, and one that circles the top of the hill allowing views of the city and Himalayas beyond. Also at the top of the hill is a small Ranidevi temple with murti dedicated to Shiva, Krishna, and Ganesh. Otherwise, the forest is the domain of native flora and fauna.
Nepal launched the community forest program in 1973 and currently there are nearly 20,000 forests across the country. The Kathmandu Valley region has 144 community forests, but Ranibari is the only one within the boundary of the Ring Road that encircles the cities of Kathmandu and Patan. Anyone looking for a respite from the functional anarchy of Kathmandu’s crowded city center will undoubtedly find nirvana tucked in the Ranibari forest.
Clancy's comment: Wow, 144 community forests. Well done.