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HOW IT ALL BEGAN AT NATURE PARK KEMPTY FALLS NEAR MUSSOORIE INDIA Man’s lack of realisation about how animals feel, or how plants feel or how “Mother Earth” feels and reacts to man’s cruelty due to lack of knowledge, has led the people of Dehra Dun and Mussoorie to start this mass education/awareness program on environmental issues. This is how it all started and how they work.

Dehra Dun’s terrible state of weather conditions with no rains because of merciless exploitation by the limestone quarry owners and forest contractors our Government had to incur extra expense in setting up the Eco Task Force. It was in early 1990’s that the Commanding Officer of Eco Task Force Col. L. T. Parnell was requested by a visiting NRI team to hold a meeting of the elite of the town to discuss to matter as the exchequer could have been saved the expense of setting up Eco Task Force in Dehra Dun if the people were aware of what ecology meant. This was particularly expected of the citizens of Dehra Dun as this area is called the educational capital of the country. This meeting was attended by responsible citizens constituting of heads of schools, government research associations and members of the hotel industry who suffered badly with the falling tourist arrival figures. Citizens jointly undertook to work on a common program which would lead sustainable development of this region. They jointly resolved that their efforts will only become effective if (a) this common program is not confined to the campus of schools, industrial estates and commercial houses (b) a location is carefully chosen with easy accessibility to study the conditions existing in the villages which lie in the interior of the Uttaranchal region (c) all members change their lazy lifestyles and “come out” on picnics and nights out, closer to nature, and working together for a common cause.

All members present were given full help by the NRIs present who immediately contributed towards making of such a location which was named “Nature Park” and the location chosen was Kempty Falls which was suitable to all resident in Dehra Dun, Mussoorie as well as outstation members. All members pledged full support so that the sacrifice of the NRI members does not go waste.

The project suffered a set back for a few years while the political disturbances lasted BUT immediately took shape on the formation of the new state. The Commanding Officer of Eco Task Force in 2000 Col. Narayanan, Regional Directors of Anthropological, Botanical, Geological and Zoological Surveys of India took the leading role and in no time others followed suite. An appeal for an Honorary Volunteer was made to coordinate all these activities AND LETTERS WERE CIRCULATED TO ALL SCHOOL PRINCIPALS TO JOIN IN, the text of which follows:-

"SUBJECT: Your Institutional Membership of Nature Park Eco Group

Dear Sir/Madam, ,

This is to remind you that this public participation programme was initiated by all the schools and government offices of Dehra Dun District in 1990 and revived on declaration of this new state. Many schools from other states also joined this movement to serve a common cause to work towards Earth Rights and had promised to send student groups to the park during their mid term holidays in support of UNEP programs by selecting a subject of their choice for which the government agencies participating promised to send their experts to guide students. Your school’s participation in this programme to serve a common human cause is solicited.You would obviously like to know as to what is expected of the school member?

             Each school has to (a) make an eco club in their school  (b) appoint a member of staff as to coordinate eco activities at the Nature Park (c)  The school has to incorporate these activities in their “school calendars” and (d) add a page in their respective websites on environmental activities undertaken by the school and (e) provide a link to the Nature Park website 

We are pleased to enclose your membership certificate and look forward to your school joining this common effort."

This marked the commencement of the formation of this small nature reserve which was yet looking for direction how to progress keeping various constraints in view.

Many schools in Northern India joined in but many could not understand what was the true purpose or objective of this exercise.In short it lacked vision. Some thought displaying the name of WWF was a status symbol of sorts but yet the definition of environmental activites was limted to polythene collection, making of separate garbage bins and planting of trees.

The government research institutes and survey came forward to help and the Director incharge Of Zoological Survey of India suggested that we should adopt the slogan "SAVE HIMALAYAN PHEASANTS' so that the census of the pheasant population in this park area could show the health of the habitat that supports pheasants.

The Botanical Survey of India provided a list of endangered species of plants endemic to the area which could be multiplied and rehabilitated in situ. Each plant was related to the life it supprted and a short list of such plants was prepared.

Many schools sent their students' mid term camping groups to support this effort and some money was earned but far too little to even meet the gardeners' salaries.

The concept of Eco Tourism was yet new and lacked direction. The state recognised tourism as the main back bone of it's economy but could not implement many suggested objectives.

The Nature Park effort started thinking in terms of inbound tourism for the rest of the world to come and appreciate the cultural lifestyle of the local people. The local people had no idea what was going on and as such a difficult path to their appreciating the value of such effort was put into gear with the help of the Divisional Forest officer who had done valuable work in Community based Tourism program as such a village called "Bhatoli" was identified and work started to encourage the poor village residents to develop their skills at singing, dancing and producing their local handicraft for sale to the visiting tourist who was to be brought there through a package program getting tourists staying in Dehra Dun and Mussoorie hotels.The hotels were shown the carrot that their guests who go on a one day tour will obviously stay a night longer at their hotel to give them added revenue.

The state government also thought that herb farming and ayurveda would be another source of income for the state apart from being a hydro electricity generating state as it houses the biggest dam in Asia the Tehri Dam. The new state also highlighted the need for making Uttaranchal into a herb state for poverty alleviation. So at the Nature park some research was done on the possibility of growing herbs with the help of M/s Flex Foods Ltd and it was found that Rosemary grew the best. Flex Foods being an export oriented freeze drying unit was also in need of this herb. Now came the possibility of introducing this herb to be grown by villagers on a contract farming system with an assured buy back by M/s Flex Foods Ltd.Much effort went into this. It has been a slow process.

This Nature Park is located at Kempty Falls 12 Kms from Mussoorie the nearest Hill station (35 kms) to Dehra Dun the capital of the newly formed state of Uttaranchal now Uttarakhand which was a result of trifurcation of the large state of Uttar Pradesh. The need for this trifurcation arose as in a large state it had become difficult to devote attention to the development of this difficult Himalayan region which lacked good roads, drinking water, electricity, telecommunications and other amenities which have since improved.

As Mussoorie as little to offer to the visitor to keep him mentally occupied to enable him and his family to enjoy a long holiday, the only attraction is it's cool air and this small water fall called Kempty Falls. India is famous for it's large population as such nearly 20,000 visitors come to these falls per day during the peak season.

The Nature Park and Village Bhatoli offer a challenge to voluntary workers from the world over.People who feel concerned about the ecological dangers of the Himalayan region and those sympathetic to the concept of alleviating poverty in the world. The mountainus region however has the natural beauty, biggest rivers of the region which offer white water rafting, rock climbing, trekking and camping to the nature and adventure lover.

To be continued :(Can someone help me give this write up a link and help me improve it please as I am new to the computer world? Thank you)

This is a more subjective description of the park -- what it's like, why someone would want to go there, the scenery and geology, the history, the weather, what makes it different and distinct from other areas.




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