The Himalayas
   EastAfrican Highland

Pragya is working with indigenous Himalayan communities across the high altitude belt in India and Nepal, covering the cold deserts of the Western Himalayas in India, the high altitude valleys of the Central and Eastern Himalayas in India, and the high mountain eco-zone in Nepal. Grassroots projects blend economic development of indigenous communities with biodiversity and cultural heritage conservation.

Mountains regions – the neglect and the needs

Mountains constitute one-fifth of the land on our planet. About ten percent of the world’s people and a wide variety of flora and fauna live on their slopes. Their altitude changes create different agro-climatic conditions and diverse ecosystems; their seclusion and remoteness have made them the last bastions of globally significant biodiversity and cultural heterogeneity. Mountains are also the storehouses of the world for many life-giving resources- freshwater, fuelwood and timber, minerals, hydroelectric power, fodder, resins, plant fibres, medicines. They are the source of much of the water on the earth’s surface and the freshwater supplies for at least half of humanity. About a third of the world's protected areas for biodiversity conservation are in mountain regions. They harbor valuable medicinal and food plants and rare and beautiful animal species, and are important biological corridors and sanctuaries for plants and animals long eliminated from the more transformed lowlands.

The Development Gap and Ecological Crisis in the High Altitude Belt of the Himalayan Region
one of the 34 Global Biodiversity Hotspots
3 to 5 times faster global warming than in other areas

The mountain range of the Himalayas has been recognized by Conservation International as one of the 34 Global Biodiversity Hotspots that are a priority for conservation action, having lost more than 70% of its original habitat. A bio-geographically unique zone, it has the maximum degree of endemism in the Asian region. Unfortunately, many of the species of plants, birds and mammals are critically endangered today, threatened by both anthropogenic impacts and climate change. There have been extensive changes in land use and large areas of remaining habitat in the hotspot are highly degraded due to overgrazing and excessive timber & NTFP extraction, poaching (including that of endangered species like snow leopards & red pandas), and construction of roads & dams. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has indicated that the pattern of global warming will be more pronounced at high altitude zones, especially those in the tropics and sub-tropics - upto3 to 5 times faster global warming than in other areas. This is resulting in rapidly thinning ice packs and receding glaciers in the Himalayas, escalating desertification and increased water stress with impacts on livelihoods, as well as increase in size of seasonal high altitude lakes with the potential of disastrous floods when their natural barriers burst.

High altitude valleys of the central and eastern Himalayas in India
Cold Deserts of the western Himalayas in India
Nepal Mountain Eco-Zone

Pragya has set up its third ‪‎Solar‬ ‎Wind‬ Hybrid System (‪‎SWHS‬) in Shyaso village, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, as part of its efforts to enhance energy access in the Indian ‪‎Himalayas‬ and improve quality of life in rural households. The combination of solar and wind ‪‎energy‬ would ensure continual generation of power in this high altitude village- day-and-night,summer-or-winter.

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