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Leave No Trace Raising Environmental Awareness In The Nepal Himalaya

Environmental awareness in the Himalayas

Leave No Trace Raising Environmental Awareness In The Nepal Himalayas

Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics that promotes outdoor conservation. There are seven principles of its practice.

  • Planning and preparation.
  • Travel and Camp on durable surfaces.
  • Proper waste disposal.
  • Leave what you find,
  • Avoid campfires if possible; otherwise, minimize their impacts.
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Be considerate to other visitors.

These principles have been adapted to various ecosystems, environments, and activities. Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics, a nonprofit organization known as Leave No Trace (LNT), has existed since 1994 to educate people about their impact on nature through their recreational activities and Leave No Trace principles to prevent or minimize such effects.

Speaking to Phoksundo village head

Speaking to the Phoksundo village head

We at Responsible Adventures have continually educated our trek leaders, support crew, and porters on how to trek in an environmentally friendly manner. Some porters have even started collecting rubbish they see in their resting places.

I led a group from Poland on a remote Upper Dolpo traverse trek from Late September until the middle of October 2017. We saw that even this remote region, which has a relatively small number of trekkers compared to other Nepal trekking areas, was beginning to get some form of rubbish at the trails and campsites. “It is one of the cleanest areas I have trekked in, and it must be kept in its pristine state. “There were constructions of a growing number of lodges in anticipation of more foreign and local trekkers. With rapid development without proper education on environmental issues, the locals do more damage than benefit the locals and their sensitive surroundings.

My first opportunity was to meet the newly elected Mr Tashi Tundup Gurung – Head of Shey Phoksundo Village Municipality, at his home in Saldang village. I formally introduced myself to him and sat down to have a serious talk with him after exchanging pleasantries. I asked him what his thoughts on tourism were, to which he replied that it benefits the people of inner Dolpo very little. The trekking companies hire pack animals and buy most rations for this camping trek in the lower regions, despite fresh vegetables and rations being available in Dolpo’s interior villages. I told him how beautiful his District was and how important it was to educate the new entrepreneurs and the staff of camping groups about keeping the surroundings clean. Mr Tashi mumbled, why bother when they receive no benefit? I told him this was why they should insist all camping groups bring out the rubbish they produce; the villagers should tell the trekking group’s staff that they are welcome to visit their beautiful District and understand their culture and religion but leave their environment pristine.

Scene from Upper Dolpo

A scene from Upper Dolpo

To encourage him further, I said that the Dolpa district could lead the country on Leave No Trace principles by cooperating with neighbouring Village Municipality chiefs to implement these policies. Despite being new on the trekking scene and being a very remote district, they can be ecologically sound. This got Mr Tashi excited, and it was evident on his face. He thanked us for visiting and educating him on environmental issues and sounding my concerns for their District.

Awareness needs to start at the grassroots level to implement LNT policies; I spoke to our mule drivers, Kaji and Bhim. They were reluctant in the beginning. However, they were convinced that trekkers could go to many other areas or countries should their District become dirty. This is part of our ongoing Responsible Tourism Practices. 

Check out our Trekking packages for Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Tibet.