Clean-up Himalaya to sustain High Altitude Heritage, Nepal

Resources Himalaya Foundation aims to conserve biodiversity in the Himalayas, promoting sustainable use of natural resources including soil, water, forest and rangeland, improving livelihoods of the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised sections of society.

The high Himalayan mountains are a world famous tourist destination with Lamtang National Park (LNP) having the third most popular heritage trek in Nepal. It harbours rare and threatened species such as red panda, snow leopard and clouded leopard as well as endemic and endangered flora. Gosaikunda Lake (alt. 4380m) is a Ramsar site and an important pilgrimage site in park bringing up to 30,000 visitors at various seasons of year, during which over 300 temporary shelters are set up to accommodate visitors in the fragile landscape. Tons of waste are left alongside the trail and around the lake which local people lack capacity to manage. The project will organise three clean-up-campaigns along 31km trail to Gosaikunda and its surroundings, installing bins at 1km intervals of trail to collect and separate waste.  An incinerator will be bought to manage non-recyclable waste and minimise emissions from open burning. The project will involve local youths in each activity as well as local government, trekking agencies, communities and schools to keep the area clean and promote eco-tourism.

The Update

This project has now been successfully completed with a very positive outcome.

– Involving and engaging local communities, especially schools, has been a key part of this project. The aim has always been to create awareness and help educate about issues relating to waste management and its impact on people and the natural environment. Brochures and a presentation have been created as part of an overall campaign within three schools and nearby communities and will continue to be promoted in other areas.

– Door-to-door activities have also taken place. Brochures were distributed and discussions had with people along the Gosaikunda Trail and within the villages of Syfrubesi and Thulosyafru. The importance of waste management relating to environmental, health and tourism issues was promoted to help spread the message.

– Both planned clean-up events for 2020 had to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, a smaller event was able to go ahead when the team visited the Gosaikunda trail and Dunche area in November. The 12 volunteers collected 65kg of rubbish and locations for new dustbins were identified. In January 2021, another clean-up campaign was organised involving 13 volunteers from a number of colleges in Kathmandu and 93 local people. They collected a total of 110kg of waste! In addition to the clean-up events, a member of Resources Himalaya Foundation has been walking along the Lamgtang Trail once a month doing his own litter collection.

– 50 new dustbins have now been installed – 25 along the Lamgtang trail and 25 on the Gosaikunda trail. The dustbins will help limit the huge volumes of waste left by visitors and reduce damaging impacts to the trekking trails. They are made using locally sourced bamboo and include information plates which provide details such as the travel time and distance to the next bin.

– An incinerator has also now been purchased and is in the process of being installed at Dhunche. This will help manage any waste found on the trails which can’t be recycled or reused.

Image: Clean Up in Gosaikunda. Image credit: Ajit Parajuli