• Opportunities and Constraints: Shey Phoksundo as a Conservation Area

    Environment, Environmental Design

    There are several government and non-government institutions working in the Shey Phoksundo region at the district and village levels. Many more are emerging which provide technical support for the formation of community and village-based institutions and organizations such as Eco clubs, Mother Groups, Youth Clubs and so forth. Management skills and capacity, however, are inadequate. The traditional leadership structures of the region have changed over time and political leaders have overtaken the traditional roles of social, institutional and religious leadership. However, in some areas, religious leaders are still influential.

    The forests of the region are gradually being degraded as a consequence of uncontrolled grazing and overexploitation. Livelihood pressures and poverty have resulted in this unsustainable use of natural resources. There is a heavy dependence on NTFPs such as leaf litter, fodder, incense, wild food and herbal medicinal plants in the region. Resource degradation is increasing at an alarming rate with very low awareness on issues related to natural resource management. Interest in forest restoration programs is consequently low, further exacerbated by insufficient support and incentives.

    Alternative energy sources are gradually being utilized which require more institutional support and incentives from external conservation and development organizations. There is a need for more concerted efforts at exploring these alternative energy sources with the goal of sustainable resource utilization. The constraints of the region present us with a challenging task. These constraints however also provide a rare opportunity to develop the tremendous potential of the region in all of its diversity.

    The communities in the region have emphasized the need for an improvement in basic health and education; productive skill development; diversification and improvement of agriculture and livestock rearing; micro- enterprise development; human and institutional capacity building; and effective management of resources.

    The Shey Phoksundo region is in dire need of fresh interventions and approaches to conservation and development. With a backdrop of stark natural beauty, it is afflicted with a rapidly depleting resource base, underdevelopment and poverty.

    (Revised from a WWF Project Retrospective)

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