Nepal’s first Alpine conservation committee, the Khumbu Alpine Conservation Council (KACC), was formed in May 2004 in an effort to reduce the overuse of local fuelwood by the tourism industry in the Everest region.
A year earlier, the KACC emerged from the “Community-Based Conservation and Restoration of the Mt. Everest Alpine Zone” program. The program’s goal was to protect and restore the fragile alpine ecosystems of Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park and Buffer Zone by strengthening local management and improving conservation capacity.
The project is based on years of detailed scientific research and is implemented and directed by local Sherpa communities in partnership with government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), international nongovernmental organization (INGOs), donor agencies, and the trekking and mountaineering communities.
In the Mt. Everest region of Nepal, mountaineering teams and their porters have used slow-growing juniper shrubs and fragile alpine plants for fuelwood for the past 30 years, in spite of regulations designed to encourage the use of imported fuels. Especially during the last 20 years, the removal of these soil-binding plants from the fragile and thin alpine soils has resulted in dramatic increases in erosion and degraded landscapes throughout the Everest region alpine zone.
Juniper Harvesting Banned
In 2004, the Sagarmatha National Park and KACC worked together to ban the burning of all juniper fuelwood by lodges, trekking groups, and mountaineering expeditions. This saved approximately 100,000 kg of juniper by 2009.
In order to reduce current pressures on alpine ecosystems, kerosene and stove depots were established in Dingboche in 2005 to provide an alternative energy source to local people, trekkers, lodge operators, and porters. The KACC has stocked the depots with more than 20,000 liters of kerosene, which has saved over 150,000 kg of juniper shrubs since the inception of the project.
Alpine Nursery Established
The KACC established an alpine nursery of 10,000 juniper, rhododendron, fir, and alpine seedlings and medicinal and aromatic plants at 4,000 m in Shomare, on the way to Mt. Everest base camp. This nursery was designed in consultation with Himalayan Trust forestry experts and staff of Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone. Likewise, the alpine region’s first cattle-proof exclosure (50x50m) was constructed as a demonstration above the village of Dingboche.
Environmental Education Materials
To increase awareness about the importance and fragility of alpine ecosystems, KACC developed educational programs, posters and annual brochures for local schools, visitors, and lodge owners. Several informational signboards have been erected along the Everest and Island Peak trekking routes.
Porter Rest House Restoration
Porters in the Khumbu often have trouble finding a place to sleep, especially when trekking companies do not provide them with a tent and sleeping bags. In order to overcome the problems, a porter rest house at Lobuche was renovated in 2006 under the management of the KACC. This porter rest house provides shelter, blankets, and cooking facilities to porters. Approximately 25,000 porters have benefited from these improved facilities.
Designated Cooking Facilities For Porters
In order to reduce fire risk and pollution, KACC, in partnership with Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone, built two designated cooking areas for porters. These two buildings are located in Shomare and Debuche.
Small Enterprise Development
In order to provide additional income-generating opportunities, the KACC provided training on making juice from a shrub known as Seabuckthorn that grows by the rivers near Dingboche and Pheriche.
KACC Visitor Information Centre
The KACC has established a visitor information centre and office in Dingboche to facilitate regular meetings, workshops and distributing information to visitors. The office provides services to local residents, porters, guides, trekkers and mountaineers.
Refuse Disposal Established
The KACC, in partnership with local lodge operators, established separate bio-degradable and non-biodegradable refuse disposal pits in project areas with the goal of cleaning the garbage left by irresponsible trekking and mountaineering expeditions. Approximately 7,000 kg of waste was collected and deposited into the refuse disposal pits.
Priority Activities And Funding Needs
- Introduce and test alternative energy technologies such as mini hydro scheme to supplement the kerosene depot.
- Build porter rest house in Chukung to provide clean and warm accommodations.
- Upgrade the tourist information centre at the KACC office in Dingboche.
- Introduce greenhouse technologies in high altitudes to grow fresh vegetables.
- Develop educational programs for tourists, visitors, and local people on the need to protect and restore fragile alpine lands.
- Develop programs to mitigate the threats from global warming and climate change impacts.
- Conduct workshops at the local level about the threats from and prospective solutions to the lmja glacial lake and its possible outburst.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
As part of your trekking or climbing adventure in the Khumbu, please consider making a contribution that will help to protect and restore the fragile alpine environments, strengthen local management capacity, increase livelihoods, and improve the lives of porters!
Thank you for your interest in the activities of Khumbu Alpine Conservation Council (KACC).
Members of KACC
Khumbu Alpine Conservation Council
Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone