Conserving Nepal’s plant heritage

The Nepal Art Village has begun a campaign to conserve the plant heritage of Nepal by launching a massive plantation drive at Champi, at the south end of the Kathmandu valley. Dr. Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha, Nepal‘s top botanist, has reminded us that “Brazil was blooming in Nepal” instead of local endemic plants. The Nepal Art Village is committed to conserving Nepal’s plants that are an integral part of our economy and culture. Many rituals, festivals and cultural events require these plants and the leaves and flowers they give us. The Indra Jatra festival, for example, is all about the night jasmine and three different colors of ginger lilies that adorn the masks of the dancers. The building of Karunamaya chariot requires specific species of wood that are natural to Nepal’s three ecological regions.

Trees and flowering plants give us fruits, and nectar for the bees that give us honey. Bees pollinate our food crops. Trees help regulate the ambient temperature and maintain the earth’s water cycle. They take in the CO2 in the air and store them in the form of wood, which we then harvest as timber. We need homes and so do insects, birds and animals.

The Buddha speaks of trees as being the symbol of benevolence because they provide shade even to the axe man who will chop them down. We want to document and revive trees that are described in the Buddhist texts and the flowers that must have bloomed 2600 years ago. While some trees are evergreen, others shed this leaves every autumn and enrich the soil. Trees on slopes help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. They store water and keep our springs flowing all year around. The entire stone water spout system in the Kathmandu valley is dependent on having healthy trees in the watershed areas.

Trees give us fruits, flowers and much more. They give us oxygen, herbs for healing, spices for our food, and aromatic oils for our wellness. No wonder we worship trees as the symbol of the creator. The Gathu community of Kathmandu have been the keepers of the knowledge of all the flowers we need all year round in the valley. The Nepal Art Village is committed to protecting this knowledge, the glossary, language, words, names, all of these have to be saved for the future. Join us in this endeavor.