Tourism and deforestation in the Mount Everest region of Nepal 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. Aim 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 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/2941522.stm). 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 region. 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 houses. 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 expeditions. 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 forests. 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 wealth. In the future visits to the Mount Everest World Heritage Site should be limited. 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.