Conservation & Development in Nepal by Matt Nisbet

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Conservation & Development in Nepal by Matt Nisbet

  1. 1. Conservation & Development in Nepal Matt Nisbet Overview Life in GhandrukTrek Through the Annapurna Moun I volunteered at the Himalayan Mountain Conservation program sponsored by Projects Abroad this summer. Based in a small village called Ghandruk, the program aims to preserve and enhance natural resources along with the communities within the Annapurna conservation region. My personal objective initially was to work on alternative energy projects with villagers and the community. However, the monsoon conditions refocused the program as a whole for the summer towards wildlife and waste management. I adapted my objective to focus on the development of Nepal in regards to technology and infrastructure. Each day in Ghandruk began at sunrise and went until sundown. In the morning the group of volunteers would typically hike into the mountains to conduct mammal surveys through camera traps or go bird watching. The afternoons were typically the rainy portion of the day, so they were reserved for gardening, village cleanup, or leisure. During the third week I spent in Ghandruk, I was presented with the unique opportunity to accompany part of the Nepalese Tourism Bureau on a trek to explore a potential new trekking route for tourists. The journey lasted a week and allowed me to experience the tourism industry of Nepal first-hand. As a result, I was able to observe how the system could be improved, what developments have come about recently, as well as the connection between the tourism industry and the development of the country as a whole. Major Issues of Nepalese Development • • Power is quite inconsistent. Outages are common and often lengthy, which makes reliance on modern technology impractical for most people. • Technological development is primarily focused on consumer technology. Several villagers had iPhones and mp3 players, but none had a modern stove, washing machine, refrigerator, etc. • Starting above, Clockwise: View of the mountains while trekking; yak farm; map of trekking route; solar panel array in Ghandruk; microhydrolectric plant next door to my hotel. Mechanisms for proper waste disposal are rare. Most villagers burn their trash. In the cities, government agencies process trash, although vast amounts of littering and trash burning occur as well. A shortage of wage-paying jobs combined with a trend towards subsistence living leaves little disposable income for families and individuals in Nepal. • In rural areas, the remote location makes transporting materials nearly impossible and severely limits the community’s access to the more urban areas. As a whole, Nepal is geographically isolated as well. • The economies of many locations are based on tourism, which discourages modernization in order to preserve the “authentic” experience. Personal Implications Although I enjoyed my time in Nepal immensely, this coming summer I plan to participate in research in a more traditional setting. However, I do hope that some day I can connect the research element of chemistry with the practical conservation applications I observed this summer. Special thanks to the James Graham Brown Foundation, Centre College, ACAP and Projects Abroad.

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