Himalayan Insight - The social wing of Himalayan EcotourismEnquire
An NGO in the Himalayas - Our story
Himalayan Ecotourism (HET) has been working at the grassroots level with the local communities of the Tirthan Valley. While tourism has offered many an alternate livelihood, it has detrimental effects on the surrounding natural ecosystems through intense resource use.
Himalayan Ecotourism (HET) envisions a collaboration with the local communities of the Ecozone to support socio-economic development of the local people to reduce pressures of resource use on the National Park, while diverting profits to social and ecological initiatives such as children’s education, women empowerment, reforestation and forest fire prevention.
Due to HET’s model, we’ve found the extent of our non-profit work is strongly limited by the profits we secure from tourism. Hence, we want to shift the forest fire prevention, ecological restoration and children’s education programs to our new NGO, Himalayan Insight.
To keep working for our mission, we decided to supplement our organization with an NGO. This would not just sustain our social efforts, but also scale them up. With our strong, trustworthy relations with the locals and over 10 years of operation, we are optimistic about sustaining the thriving ecosystem we created.
With the women of the village Pekhri in 2014.
Working with the well-intentioned local leaders - Keshav Thakur.
Himalayan Insight is in line with its mother organization, Himalayan Ecotourism, about its goals.
Himalayan Insight’s mission is to provide a holistic approach to nature conservation by facilitating sustainable socio-economic development of local communities and empowering them to become advocates of nature conservation. We aim at restoring a symbiotic relationship between the rural communities and all other forms of life in the Himalayas.
Based on our understanding of the inherent connection between social welfare and conservation, our strategy is to provide opportunities to the local communities for -
- Economic Prosperity through a sustainable and ethical tourism business model
- Women Empowerment through establishment of their micro-enterprises
- Forest Regeneration community-lead programs
- Child Development considering tomorrow's local and global challenges
This is a report about all the work we did near the Great Himalayan National Park since the inception of Himalayan Ecotourism.
Most of our social and conservation oriented work is now being undertaken under our NGO Himalayan Insight.
The second part of the report delineates our action plan for the next couple of years.
Our Plans for the Future
Under Jujurana Eco-Creations, we produce a range of 100% natural cosmetics like sunscreen, lip balms and handmade soaps as well as knitted apparels for sale to tourists.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the micro-enterprise was forced to halt production. We want to provide the marginalized women of Tirthan Valley with education and the creative skills training needed to become professional and talented designers, seamstresses, embroiderers, weavers, and jewelry designers of the handicraft industry. Through our program, women would gain the creative skills and financial independence by creating sustainable fashion that is life affirming and supports a healthy environment.
The range of products that these women offer with their fine craftsmanship includes soaps, oils, woolen socks and other knitted items. HET plans on reviving this micro-enterprise and beginning production of these products once again by training more women and providing the materials required. With a sustained presence and a lively business, opportunities for growth and expansion within the valley can be explored.
Child Development - Kitaab Aur Vaadiyan
We are happy to announce the establishment of our KITAAB AUR VAADIYAN nature-immersive education program in local schools in the valley to create an ecological consciousness within children and young adults in communities.
Through our 3 month program, we take students on a 3 stage journey to firstly, observe and reconnect with nature, secondly, begin understanding core concepts of ecology and conservation and lastly, apply their learnings to their households and communities and evaluate sustainability in their context.
We want provide young and budding minds with the faculties to evaluate their communities and empower them to lead sustainable development projects as they grow up.
Through engaging lessons that involve movement, painting, sculpting and observation, children have a fun time but also begin enjoying and understanding the forest they live so closely with.
By March 2023, we will have developed an extensive curriculum that can be replicated and implemented in schools across the Himalayas.
We are launching an innovative pilot project for enhancing women confidence and help them becoming more self-reliant. The main plan is to curate workshops for yoga, meditation and up-skilling for the women and youth of the Panchayat.
Through close interactions with them, we’ve come to understand that they have a deep interest in exploring yoga and meditation and building skill sets that can enhance their employability and give them the confidence to start their own businesses.
Presently, we intend on evaluating the ecological progress of the plots, PE-Z01 and NA-Z01, for presence of invasive species, growth rate of planted fauna, succession of the planted species and what work is required for the future.
We want to diversify the flora species we are caring for in the nursery by initiating a village-wide initiative of seed collection and growing of seeds into saplings for future reforestation drives. Monitoring the succession and progress of these habitats post-reforestation is crucial for future expansion plans in the area.
We have devised a micro-plan in collaboration with local community members and experienced researchers with the encouragement of the Forest Department that we want to implement in the next 5 years. This micro-plan tackles our actions and goals for the ecological restoration of the total 5 km2 project area.
Forest Fire Prevention
We are dedicated to reviving our past work as an NGO to combat the rising prevalence of intentional forest fires. Based on previous interactions and fieldwork, we plan on conducting further interviews with villagers to better understand why forest fires are intentionally set and plan intervention measures. Relationships formed from interviews will enable us to identify trust-worthy representatives across the valley who we intend on calling ‘Defenders’. In collaboration with the Forest Department and our ‘Defenders’, a Quick-Response-System for real-time intervention and tracking of induced forest fires can be started.
This robust data collection and analysis will help obtain data on forest fires in Tirthan Valley and streamline our intervention measures. Alongside experimentation of Morel mushroom cultivation, we plan on running awareness campaigns at villages and exploring opportunities for alternative livelihoods such as handicraft and cosmetics production, inspired by our women empowerment program.
The people behind Himalayan Insight
Himalayan Insight is a Trust registered in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. The trustees are Hema Marchal, Jagita Devi, Tara Chand.
JagitaAn ambitious local woman passionate about the mountains, women empowerment and her community. She has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and has emerged as the head of our women empowerment initiatives. Jagita envisions mighty changes for the women in the valley.
Tara ChandTara is one of our cooperative member, a mountaineer and a naturalist guide at HET. He stands out with his progressive attitude, his dedication for social causes and his integrity.
Our mentors and supporters
Himalayan Insight has immense gratitude towards our friends who have been advising us and bolstering our confidence.
Payson R. StevensA businessman, a community-lover and an environmental scientist to organizations like NASA. Mr Stevens has played a crucial role in giving a concrete shape to our company as a social enterprise. He is now a painter, an artist and a decisive friend of the GHNP.
Sanjeeva PandeyThe first director of GHNP, ex-PCCF of Himachal Pradesh, Mr Pandey has constantly encouraged our grassroot movement in the ecozone of the GHNP since its start. By extending the support of the park, he helped us realize the vision of empowering communities and we continue to seek his mentorship.
Vinay TandonEx-Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Himachal Pradesh, Vinay’s immense love for the Himalayan forests extended into his goodwill for our projects. He is deeply dedicated to empowering women and has provided great insights for our work.
Tony GastonMain research investigator of the establishment of GHNP, Mr Gaston has been one of our primary backbones of the reforestation programmes in the ecozone. His guidance made it easier for HET’s journey through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognition of Himalayan Ecotourism
Himalayan Ecotourism is the winner of the To Do award 2022 in the field of "Socially Responsible Tourism".
We are also the Overall Winner of the Indian Responsible Tourism Award 2019 and the Gold winner in the Best Adventure Operator category.
We have been declared winner of the Sustainable Tourism Award 2019 by Skal International and Biosphere.
Our cooperative-based model of social enterprise and our efforts to conserve the Himalayas are the main reasons for winning these awards.
Thank you to all our cooperative members, our customers, our friends and well-wishers !