People and wildlife of the Himalayas form a rich mosaic of life across this rugged and remarkable landscape. But the region is being hit hard by climate change: farmers are seeing their crops suffer from a shifting monsoon season and lack of winter precipitation. Mountain glaciers – the source of freshwater for more than a billion people – are melting away, and villagers live in fear of devastating floods from glacier lakes prone to bursting.
The effects of climate change have become a daily reality for communities in the Eastern Himalayas, whose livelihoods and traditions depend upon the stability of the area’s natural resources.
Within this land of high snow-capped peaks, forests, mighty rivers and grasslands live amazing animals such as snow leopards, red pandas, river dolphins, tigers, elephants and rhinos. Threatened by human actions such as poaching, habitat destruction, and pollution, these species face additional stress with climate change.
WWF pioneered a project in the Langtang region of Nepal that empowers communities to adapt to climate change impacts. Faced with water shortages, unpredictable rainfall, and shifting seasons, the project has helped these local communities become “water smart” by:
- Installing special tanks that store rainwater for irrigation
- Using drip irrigation for more efficient watering
- Establishing schools for farmers where they learn how to adapt to climate change with drought-resistant crops, crop rotation, and sustainable ways to raise livestock
- Starting seed banks to distribute local seeds more tolerant to extreme droughts and rainfall
We’ve also helped communities plant trees and grasses along slopes which restores wildlife habitat and prevents future landslides. New and efficient cooking stoves have been distributed that use 40% less wood, protecting the surrounding forest habitat of wildlife such as red pandas. And we’ve helped to install weather stations to gather data to monitor climate change and educate the community.
“Going to the Farmer’s School and learning the new techniques have made a vast difference to my life, and I am happy that my family can live comfortably now.” – Maympoyalmo, farmer in Nepal
By focusing on the needs of both people and nature, WWF has taken an integrated approach to addressing climate impacts and preparing for the future. This approach can serve as an example to help other Himalayan communities live in the face of climate change.