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					Tourism and deforestation in the Mount Everest region of
This sequence of activities is based on information from an article by Stan Stevens which
appeared in The Geographical Journal (volume 169, number 3, September 2003, pages 255-77).
Three of the original illustrations from the article are used in the activity

The activities focus on deforestation in the Khumbu and Parak area, how much deforestation is
due to the impact of tourism and how widespread it is.


The aim of the activity is to engage students with the ways in which humans have used and
responded to deforestation in the Khumbu and Pharak areas of the Everest region.

Adapting the resources

You will need to review the sheets and perhaps change some of the wording as appropriate to the
needs of your candidates.

The activities
1. Divide the class into two groups: A and B.
2. Give group A copies of the sheet with the photograph in the middle. Pairs of students must
   choose five statements to show how tourism has had a negative impact on regional forests.
3. Give group B copies of the sheet with the map in the middle. Pairs of students must choose
   five statements to show how tourism has brought prosperity to many Sherpas.
4. The class is then put into groups of four. The new groups (consist of two students from A and
   two from B) then spend a few minutes sharing information. They are all given a copy of the
   graph illustrating the growth of tourism. Each student annotates the graph with a summary of
   the information.
5. Each group of four is now divided into two pairs. Each pair consists of a student from group A
   and a one from B.
6. The pairs are given the argument and counter argument frame. Using their annotated graph,
   map and photograph they must argue for or against the point. They note their responses on the
   frame. Each student needs to keep a copy of his or her frame.
7. Using their argument frame, each student writes a response to the Himalayan Trust about
   deforestation and tourism in the Everest region of Nepal. They should use either their map or
   photograph and the graph in their response (they may wish to have new copies). Their
   responses may be positive or negative or a mixture of the two, and must be evidence based.
   More information on the Trust can be found on the BBC news website
Group A
How has tourism had a negative effect on the region’s forests?
Group B

How has tourism bought prosperity to many Sherpas?
Tourism development has bought prosperity to many Sherpas
There has been little deforestation since 1950.

The use of firewood by tourist inns has contributed to the thinning of forests in some parts of the
Sagarmath (Mount Everest) National Park.

In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and his companions were amongst the first foreigners to visit the

Today the Mount Everest area is one of the Himalaya‟s premier centres for mountaineering.

Sherpas began to use income from mountaineering and trekking work to build inns and larger

97% of all visitors to Nepal since the 1970s have been trekkers

The number of mountaineering expeditions has grown from one or two per year in the 1950s to
more than 50 per year by the late 1990s. The total annual number of foreign mountaineers does
not exceed 600 (2003).

25% of Sherpa families of Khumbu and Pharak now operate inns.

75% of visitors now stay in Sherpa owned and operated inns.

Sherpa‟s in both regions use local forests intensively as part of their subsistence lifestyles and their
operation of inns.

Forests provide wild foods and medicines, timber and other building materials, firewood, grazing
and compost material.

Many Khumbu communities and some Pharak ones traditionally strictly protected sacred forests
and managed the use of some others.
Tourism has had adverse impacts on regional forests

The alpine vegetation has been affected by the use of firewood by camping groups.

Trees have been cut to build inns and other tourist facilities.

Villagers have ignored local conservation traditions in order to sell large volumes of firewood to
mountaineering expeditions and trekking groups.

Early inns required the same amount of timber to build as houses, but the newer larger inns
generate higher timber demands.

A large busy inn can easily require more than 600 loads of firewood a year.

By the end of the 1970s trekking groups were using six times as much firewood as mountaineering

After the 1979 Mount Everest National Park ban on tourist campfires, firewood use by inns became
the main demand. Firewood use by inns has never been regulated.

Juniper is used for fuel. There were 7 inns in the alpine region in 1978 and 71 in 2000.

Wood is the main cooking and heating fuel in all settlements for both domestic and tourist uses.

Since the early 1980s efforts to encourage Khumbu inns to use kerosene rather than wood for
cooking and heating have had little success.
Tourism and deforestation in the Mount Everest region of
Nepal – the growth of tourism
Tourism and deforestation in the Mount Everest region of
Nepal – the arguments for and against
Argument                         Counter Argument   Evidence

Tourists should be blamed
for the destruction of the

All areas of the Mount
Everest region have been
affected by deforestation.

The main impact that
tourism has had on local
vegetation is forest thinning.

The National Park
Authorities should protect
the forests at all costs

Tourism has increased local

In the future visits to the
Mount Everest World
Heritage Site should be
What would you say to the Himalayan Trust?
Sir Edmund Hillary set up the Himalayan Trust to raise and distribute funds in the Everest region.
The money has been used to build hospitals, schools, bridges, forest nurseries, and provide
scholarships. An all-Sherpa Advisory Board looks after the development projects.

In 1976 Sir Edmund Hillary visited a wooded valley. „It really did bring back to me, “My god this
was how the Khumbu was when we first went in there.” You turned the corner at Periche [near
Mount Everest] and the whole place was a deep green clothed in juniper right up the valley and up
beside the glacier everywhere. Well, of course, now you have to look pretty hard to even see a
single bush anywhere. We are the ones who started cutting it out [for firewood] I might say.‟

What would you say to the Advisory Board about recent changes in the Khumbu area?

Date:          1953

Origin:        Alfred Gregory

Information:   Nepal extends beyond the
               Himalayas to two hill ranges;
               the Mahabharats and the
               Churia Hills. Between the
               Mahabharats and the
               Himalayas are ranges of hills
               and deep valleys, including
               the Kathmandu Valley,
               surrounded by terraced and
               cultivated hillsides. To the
               south are the Terai with has
               become the agricultural and
               industrial centre of the
               country, with nearly half the
               population living in this area.