Protected areas are widely held to be among the most effective means of conserving biological diversity in situ. The Convention on Biological Diversity defines protected areas as "a geographically defined area which is designated or regulated and managed to achieve specific conservation objectives." IUCN the world conservation union defines protected areas as "an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity and of natural and associated cultural resources, managed through legal or other effective means".
Protected area management in Nepal received a real thrust in the 1970s. Not only protected areas came to be added, but also action on both their protection and conservation was intensified. The first organized approach to managing protected areas in Nepal dates back to the year 1973 by establishing Chitwan National Park. Now, the protected areas in Nepal include ten national parks, three wildlife reserves, one hunting reserve and six conservation areas and twelve buffer zones covering an area of 34,185.62 sq. km that is 23.23% of the total area of the country.
Shey-phoksundo Narional Park is situated in the Trans-Himalayan region of northwest Nepal. It is Nepal’s largest National Park covering an area of 3,555 km2. It was established in 1984 to preserve a unique Trans-Himalayan ecosystem with a diversity of flora and fauna. The Park’s climatic differences, altitude variations, and different zoo-geographical regions support a diverse range of biotic systems. In 1998, an area of 1349 km2 surrounding the park was declared as buffer zone, which consists of forests and private lands. The buffer zone is jointly managed by the park and local communities. Together they initiate community development activities and manage the natural and cultural resources.
Khaptad National Park is located in the Far-western region of Nepal. The park was gazetted in 1984 covering an area of 225 sq. km. The area of buffer zone is 216 sq.km. The park is the only mid-mountain national park in western Nepal, representing a unique and important ecosystem. The late Khaptad Swami moved to the area in 1940's to meditate and worship. He spent about 50 years as a hermit and became a renowned spiritual saint.
The park is situated in south central Nepal, covering 932 km2in the subtropical lowlands of the inner Terai. The area comprising the Tikauli forest-from Rapti river to the foothills of the Mahabharat-extending over an area of 175 km2 was declared Mahendra Mriga Kunj (Mahendra Deer Park) by the late King Mahendra in 1959. In 1963, the area south of Rapti River was demarcated as a rhinoceros sanctuary. The area was gazetted as the country's first national park in 1973, recognizing its unique ecosystems of international significance. UNESCO declared RCNP a World Heritage Site in 1984,In 1996 an area of 750 km2 surrounding the park was declared a buffer zone, which consists of forests and private lands including cultivated lands. The park and the local people jointly initiate community development activities and manage natural resources in the buffer zone. Government of Nepal has made provision of to provide 30-50 percent of the park revenue for community development and natural resource management in the buffer zone.
It was established in 1976 to conserve the unique flora and fauna of the region. It is the nearest national park of the capital Kathmandu in the Central Himalayan Region. The 1710 sq. km. of the park extends over parts of Nuwakot, Rasuwa, and Sindhupalchok districts in the southern mountainous terrain of the Nepal-China (Tibet) border. In 1998 an areas of 420 km2 in and around the park declare as a buffer zone. The park represents a meeting point between indo-Malayan and Palearctic realms, and holds a rich biodiversity. Buffer zone management is a joint venture between the park office and the local communities. Local communities have a decision-making role in the management of such areas. Additionally, the local communities or the BZ receive 30 to 50 % of the park revenue for the better management of natural resources to ensure a sustainable supply of resources and community development
Bardia National park is the largest national park in the lowland Terai covering on area of 968 sq.km. The park situated in Nepal's Western Terai was established to protect representative ecosystems and conserve tiger and its prey species. Initially, a small area was gazetted as the Karnali Wildlife Reserve in 1976. 1500 households of the Babai valley were resettled outside the park allowing the vegetation and wildlife to flourish. In 1982, it was renamed as Bardia Wildlife Reserve, and in 1984 it was extended to its current size. The reserve was given the status of a National Park in 1988. Greater One-horned Rhinoceros were translocated from Chitwan National Park in 1986, 1991, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. In 1997, an area of 327 km2 surrounding the park was declared as a buffer zone, which consists of forests and private lands. The park and local communities jointly manage the buffer zone. Together they initiate community development activities and manage natural resources in the buffer zones. An elephant ride provides a different view of the park as one can go off the main trail, Morning and late afternoon is the ideal time to go on a ride. Karnali river is the suitable home for Gangetic dolphin. Babi valley is a majestic place to visit where flagship Rhino, tiger, elephant can be observed in the wilderness site.