Apart from offering a comprehensive knowledge of the Great Himalayan National Park through its website, Friends of GHNP frequently collaborates with many stakeholders including ecologists and local cooperatives whose efforts reflect FGHNP’s values. One of FGHNP’s partnerships is with Himalayan Insight (HI), an initiative by Himalayan Ecotourism, which addresses the economic losses the local communities faced during the pandemic.
A nonprofit organization set up in 2021, HI’s main objectives are to empower local communities, promote environmental awareness, and support nature conservation and sustainable development. In developing projects to support the local communities, HI recognises that a holistic management framework is needed involving the web of social, cultural, environmental and economic complexity that is always present and inevitable.
HI has created a nature education programme for children and conducts nature classes to develop awareness and nurture a harmonious relationship between people and nature in the GHNP Ecozone. The nature education programme is HI’s main focus in 2022.
Its reforestation programme is in response to a reduction in forest cover. HI has identified land for ecological restoration and has created jobs for local people such as running the nursery and caring for saplings. This project plans to restore lost forest cover and also reduce the dependency of people on the natural resources within the Park by economically empowering them with sustainable employment and economic benefits.
Currently, no ecosystem restoration approach has been developed in the context of the Western Himalayas while local, socio-economically poor communities are extremely reliant on their forests for survival and are degrading it beyond repair in the face of tourism and development. Forest restoration, in collaboration with local communities and local authorities, is the need of this valley and its greater eco-regions.
Restoration can happen in many ways—for example, by actively planting or by removing pressures so that nature can recover on its own. It is not always possible—or desirable—to return an ecosystem to its original state. We still need farmland and infrastructure on land that was once forest and ecosystems, like societies, need to adapt to a changing climate.
Ecosystem restoration can aim to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems. At GHNP, it can help to end poverty, combat climate change, involve communities (particularly, women), generate livelihoods, and prevent extinction of species. It will only succeed if the state departments, NGOs and communities play their own parts in a concerted manner. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity.