Grant 2015 – Capacity Building for sustainable nature tourism in Singhalila National Park, Darjeeling, Eastern Himalayas, India

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The project seeks to fill the intervention gap of capacity building of Park Guides in Singhalila National Park, in an effort to promote conservation and sustainable nature tourism in the park.  The project proposes to develop the capacity of the 100 park guides of Singhalila by organising formal skill development and capacity building training programmes.

The project is distinct and a complete component of the ongoing larger project “Tourism in the red panda habitats of Singhalila and Neora Valley National Park, Darjeeling – an assessment for appropriate strategies” and distinctly fills intervention gap of capacity building, so desperately needed in Singhalila at present.

Administered by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE).  ATREE is a research and outreach organisation established in 1996, based in Bangalore, with the regional office for the Northeast/Eastern Himalayas in Gangtok, Sikkim and project office in Darjeeling and Delhi.

Singhalila National Park is located on the north western border of Darjeeling, covers an area of 78 km2 with an altitude range of 2,400-3,636 m. and is bordered by the state of Sikkim in the north while Nepal is on the western border.

The fragile, biologically rich and aesthetically beautiful landscape of Singhalila National Park is home of threatened mammal such as Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), threatened birds, various species of Rhododendrons and medicinal plants.  Singhalila is an IUCN Category II Protected Area which has “tourism and recreation” as one of the primary objectives.

Singhalila receives more than 5,000 international and domestic visitors every year.  An increasing visitation trend to the park also has a corresponding livelihood dependence of the local communities on the industry, which forms the basis of sustainable tourism.