Leonardo DiCaprio Raises Alarm Over Threat to Nepal's Biocultural Heritage Zone

Leonardo DiCaprio Raises Alarm Over Threat to Nepal's Biocultural Heritage Zone

Oscar-winning actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio is calling attention to a controversial hydropower dam construction project in Nepal that he says threatens one of the Earth's most pristine natural areas and the way of life for indigenous communities.

In a Facebook post this week, DiCaprio highlighted the plight of the Lungba Samba Biocultural Heritage Special Conservation Zone in eastern Nepal near the border with China. He says planned hydropower dams on the sacred Chhujung, Chhunjam, and Bakhang rivers in the region violate protections put in place in 2020 to safeguard the land and cultures of the Lhomi Singsa and Bhote indigenous peoples.

"The magnificent Chhujung, Chhunjam, and Bakhang Rivers are deeply sacred for the Lhomi Singsa and Bhote people, who are among the most marginalized Indigenous Peoples of Nepal," wrote DiCaprio. "These groups sustain their livelihoods through farming and collecting medicinal herbs and other non-timber forest products while honoring the land."

The area is also home to endangered snow leopards, red pandas, and other wildlife. DiCaprio claims the dams would be "a clear violation" of the 2020 Lungba Samba conservation law which bans destructive development like hydropower, roads, and mining.

He urged his followers to support the local communities who are petitioning Nepal's Supreme Court to halt the dam construction plans and protect their ancestral lands. DiCaprio shared a link to an online campaign raising awareness around the issue.

Environmental groups have increasingly criticized hydropower projects in remote regions of the Himalayas for their impacts on ecosystems, indigenous cultures, and potential to exacerbate natural disasters like landslides and floods. DiCaprio has been an outspoken advocate for indigenous rights and environmental protection causes around the world.

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