Conservation of nature can be achieved more easily in an aware and well-to-do community than an aware but impoverished community. Education and awareness alone are not sufficient if a community is struggling to live. Himalayan Nature encourages people to develop a culture of giving and sharing. The joy of giving is greater than that of receiving. We take a very careful approach that such donations really help communities to become able and strong and not dependent and weak. We concentrate our efforts in a few selected areas in this field.
Promoting Nature-based Eco-tourism in sites around Lumbini area
Lumbini is the fourth largest tourist destination in terms of number of visitors in Nepal. As many as 70,000 tourists visit each year. Many are day visitors and do not really benefit the local communities who are mainly dependent on subsistence farming. When tourists come and stay, they spend only a single night to see the birthplace of the Buddha (also a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO). Few visit these important biodiversity hotspots to enjoy and experience the beauty of nature. Thus, our program aimed to take the initiation to promote sustainable nature-based ecotourism in the area. It was able to highlight the value of naturally rich places near Lumbini, Rupandehi district to promote nature-based ecotourism. It came up with three important natural areas and some farmlands rich with wildlife having potentiality of eco-tourism in Lumbini.
Traditional Knowledge and Promoting livelihoods of Lumbini
Nepal is ranked in 25th and 11th positions on biodiversity richness in the World and Asia, respectively. It is reported that 118 different ecosystems occur naturally in Nepal. In all geographical regions there is a long historical attachment between biodiversity and native societies and their cultural identities. With distinct languages, religions, customs, folklore, cultures, knowledge, ancient territories, 59 indigenous nationalities are legally recognized and have formed Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) as an umbrella organization. Although small, Nepal is a country of geographical diversity, consisting of different communities. It is multi-lingual and multi-ethnic. Nepal is one of the richest sources of traditional knowledge. Traditional knowledge is practical common sense based on teachings and experience passed on from generation to generation. The indigenous people of Nepal possess an immense knowledge of their environments, based on centuries of living close to nature. Living in and from the richness and variety of complex ecosystems, they have an understanding of the properties of plants and animals, the functioning of ecosystems and the techniques for using and managing them that is particular and often detailed. Equally, knowledge and perceptions of local people regarding the environment, and their relationships with it, are often important elements of cultural identity.
We conducted a project that addressed the livelihood aspects of local people. By helping people to improve their incomes we intended to win their hearts and minds in biodiversity conservation and responsible tourism in the area.
Reducing Dependency on Fire Wood: Protecting Lives of People and Biodiversity
Nepal lacks proven deposit of fossil fuel and hence relies heavily on traditional energy resources such as fuelwood, agricultural residues and animal waste. Of these sources, fuelwood ranks first. Thus, forests in developing countries such as Nepal are shrinking by more than 15 million hectares a year. Forests have to shoulder a massive burden to meet the increasing demand for energy caused by both the rising population and lack of alternative energy resources. In other words, dependence on forests for energy in Nepal is very high, and they are being exploited beyond their carrying capacity. According to Central Bureau of Statistics more than 80% of people in Nepal are dependent on firewood. Most wood fires and cooking stoves are inefficient, wasting energy and polluting the atmosphere both indoors and outdoors. Firewood and fossil burning have caused significant human health problems especially respiratory diseases. To minimize such problems, Himalayan Nature has initiated a scheme to buy gas stoves and sell them at a subsidized price to communities that are poor and are engaged in the exploitation of natural forest resources which are difficult to manage. Gas stoves have many positive effects, but still for the poorest households, who are totally dependent on forests to meet their energy demands, the initial capital investment is beyond their means. We feel there is an urgent need to have a closer look at gas stove promotion in rural areas to make the technology accessible to the poorest groups. The key aims of gas stoves are to prevent the exploitation of forests, to protect human health and biodiversity.
This pilot program will be started close to Dharan forests, in the western sector near Patnali, with support from Europe’s largest wildlife ecotourism operator, Naturetrek.