Annapurna Conservation Area
Located in north-central Nepal, the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) enjoys a world- renowned reputation as a premier trekking destination. From the time Nepal was first opened to foreign visitors in the 1950s, ever-increasing numbers of tourists have journeyed here in order to experience some of the most impressive scenery in the world. The Annapurna Range comprises one of the sacred mountain of Machhapuchhre (6,993m). The ACA in also the site of the world's deepest valley, that of the Kali Gandaki River, numerous impressive water falls and glaciers and the stunning trans-Himalayan zone of the Upper Mustang.
The Annapurna Conservation Area supports high diversity of flora and fauna species. A total of 1,226 species of plants (including 38 Orchid species and 9 Rhododendron species), 101 species of reptiles and 22 species of amphibians have been recorded in the ACA. The area harbors rare and endangered wildlife species such as the Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Tibetan Argali, Impeyan Pheasant and Tragopan Pheasant. The ACA provides a large protected area with the entire habitat gradient from sub tropical Sal forests to perennial snow in which to maintain the Biodiversity and integrity of the central Himalayas.
More than Ten Ethnic groups inhabit the ACA, including Gurung, Thakali, Bhotia, Ethnic Tibetan, Magar, Brahamin, Chetri, Kami, Damai and Sarki. The former 5 groups are Tibeto-Burmese by race and dominate the ethnography of the region. The latter 5 groups are Indo-Aryan and Hindu by origin. Most of the 120,000 inhabitants of the ACA derive their livelihood principally from agricultural enterprise, with livestock as a secondary occupation. Much of the arable land surrounding villages is utilized for agricultural purposes. Terraced fields have been sculptured for centuries. Major staple food grains grown in the area re rich, maize, millet, wheat, potato, barley and buckwheat and the major livestock species include buffalo, cattle, sheep, goat, yak, horse and chicken.
Global environmental problems, familiar to most people, include overpopulation, deforestation, species extinction, pollution, and waste disposal and energy consumption. These are the same issues confronting the ACA and, not surprisingly, the pressures associated with such a large transient tourist population as well as increases in local population levels are further compounding these problems.
The unquestionable significance of the Annapurna region, together with its vulnerability to extensive environmental degradation, has resulted in the area being declared a Conservation Area. The ACA presently incorporates 55 village Development Committees (VDCs) and covers an area of 7,629 square kilometers, some 5.8% of the total land area of Nepal. In total, the protected area of Nepal covers approximately 18.33% landmass of the country, with the ACA contributing a little over 28% to this area.
WWF's work in Sagarmatha
Sagarmatha, or Mt. Everest, is known as the top of the world. The magnificence of the Sagarmatha region has always attracted tourists, primarily trekkers and mountaineers to the Sagarmatha National Park (SNP). However, the masses of people visiting the region each year leave behind trash, debris, human waste and abandoned climbing equipment. This led to the region being dubbed in the late 1980s as the " highest trash dump" in the world.
WWF intends to change this negative image. Encouraging local people to take responsibility for their region. WWF supported the creation of a local environmental conservation institution in 1991 called Sagarmatha Pollution Control committee (SPCC) chaired by the Abbot of Tengboche Monastery in 1991. The initial aim of the SPCC program was to manage waste disposal, along trekking routes and around settlements and camps. SPCC has gathered its activities beyond pollution control, to include community services, environmental awareness, tourism development, and culture preservation.
WWF continues working in the Sagarmatha region through SPCC. In 1998 WWF and SPCC, in coordination with SNP and local government agencies, introduced a new government agencies, introduced a new government policy banning bottles in the Sagarmatha National Park. WWF continues to support. SPCC's work with in the national park. Recognizing that conservation is important outside national parks.
In the late 1980's the Sagarmatha National Park received negative media publicity on solid waste issues in the Khumbu region. Many climbers believed that by following the toilet paper trail anyone could reach the Mount Everest Base Camp. In response the first Everest summiteers, Sir Edmond Hillary stated that Nepal government must restrict Mountaineering for some years to reduce pollution in Everest region. The local community accepted the challenge and organized a clean up campaign in the Everest region with initial funds from the Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil aviation and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal program formed local organization Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC). The SPCC's original goal was to manage waste disposal along the trekking routes and Himalayan Base camps in the Khumbu region. Since then SPCC has expanded throughout the Khumbu region from dealing with pollution control to include community motivation, environmental conservation and tourism promotions.
Currently SPCC focused on its goal to create a "pollution free Khumbu" SPCC is directing its efforts towards maintaining a sustainable pollution control management system by focusing its program and activities on environment conservation, Community development and tourism promotion with a strong local community participation.
SPCC has successfully reduced the amount of garbage through various garbage management activities in this region. From 1994 to 2003 SPCC disposed 202745 kg of garbage (i.e. 2023.745 tons). SPCC has promoted alternative energy sources such as kerosene and LPG gas as an alternative to firewood energy to reduce pressure on the surrounding alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems. SPCC established a Kerosene depot and LPG gas depot within the Khumbu. A garbage deposit system has been applied to every expedition entering the Khumbu with Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation and the Nepal Mountaineering Association. Currently the SPCC is establishing a program to create a garbage management system with all trekking groups within the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal ( TAAN ). Along with the above activities SPCC has created a Khumbu Ice Fall rigging team to prepare the Khumbu icefall route as safe as possible with help from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation.
Towards its Sustainability, icefall route usages charge, garbage disposal charge, controlling illegal mountaineers on NMA permit peaks and Everest Surfer Project contribute its financial resources to run its programs. SPCC has no donor organizations supporting its program and activities. To achieve its goal " Pollution free Khumbu" substantial its program and activities is the dire need. SPCC's own effort is nearly rolling to keep its programme and activities in this region, which is the least effort with its financial capacity. But the result and outcome of SPCC's work on Garbage Management is widely visible when you visit/ trek in this region. Its works are recognized by the trekkers, mountaineers, local people and government as well. Major support to SPCC's Action Plan will make huge changes in the control and management of garbage and environment conservation of the region.