All members of the cooperative (65) receive our newsletter by post. News and encouragement for everyone !
We made a documentary in Hindi to raise awareness of the local about the importance of conservation.
About the adverse effects of intentional forest fires in the Himalayas. A much appreciated steps.
Raising awareness of school kids about the consequences of forest fires, and giving them pamphlets.
Fighting forest fires where it hurts, and creating a social movement against the intentional fires.
Wool is abundant in the ecozone of the GHNP. We've trained selected women for making of felt.
We encourage the local women to organize their own seed bank to avoid dependence on GMO seeds from market.
Stephan, co-founder of Himalayan Ecotourism, shows some of the work undertaken by Himalayan Ecotourism.
With the support of the "Friends of the GHNP", Himalayan Ecotourism starts interacting with the local men engaged in tourism activities. The core team of the GHNP Community-Based Ecotourism Cooperative is formed. We decide to gather a maximum of local guide, cook and other trekking assistants before registering the Cooperative society.
Himalayan Ecotourism plans to work with the women folk in the ecozone of the Great Himalayan National Park. Most of the villages of the Tirthan valley are reached by our team to brainstorm with the women and understand better their point of view, their problems and their expectations.
65 villagers from the ecozone have joined the movement. The Society is regitered in Kullu under the Cooperative Act as "The GHNP Community-Based Ecotourism Cooperative". With the support of the cooperative the GHNP is nominated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. We organize a trek to Rolla for the two founders of the "Friends of the GHNP", Sanjeeva Pandey and Payson Stevens to celebrate the nomination.
We take dozens of groups on trek in or around the GHNP. They are all very happy with our services. It is the beginning of the successful story of our social enterprise "Himalayan Ecotourism".
Himalayan Ecotourism welcomes 14 interns and volunteers to work on capacity building of the cooperative members and to mobilize & train women for launching their own micro-enterprise.
Two women Self-Help Groups are formed in the village Pekhri. They are trained to make felted wool, hand-made soaps and fruit jams.
We decide to address the issues related to energy in the ecozone of the GHNP. We mobilize funds and researchers to start the development of green technologies.
Sadly we had to acknowledge that some of the local powerful people (economically and/or politically) do not wish to see the villagers, the mass, to get aware, mobilized and empowered. The cooperative is being first ignored by them and then attacked in very unethical ways. But the sense of unity that has emerged within the Coop has brought them enough confidence to stand against these intimidations. They have resisted and came up with greater awareness of their democratic rights. That's real empowerment !
Himalayan Ecotourism welcomes 18 interns and volunteers to work on reinforcing the business structure of the cooperative, to further mobilize and train women, and to participate in the development of an advanced wood stove.
Training of selected guides to winter treks.
Mobilization of the women in the villages Pekhri, Kulthi, Tinder and Bandel in the ecozone of the GHNP. They are assisted in forming their women Self-Help Groups.
Some members of the cooperative who learned felt making in 2014 have organized training for the women. The know-how is shared within the community. A very good omen for our social movement.
Some of the women are engaged in production of apricot oil, jams, soaps and body balm. They launched their own venture called "Himalayan Eco-Creations". The products are sold to the visiting tourists.
Prototyping of the wood stove that gradually turns into a clean multi-fuel and multi-utility stove.
Himalayan Ecotourism has organized several tours in Lahaul & Spiti and Ladakh. A great experience for the cooperative members and our guests. College groups are taken on trek.
The cooperative has taken up the next challenge : to establish itself as the main genuine ecotourism operator in the area.
Symbioz is established as the daughter organization of Himalayan Ecotourism for designing, producing and selling of green technologies in the ecozone of the Great Himalayan National Park.
We have taken several initiatives to raise awareness of the people in the entire Kullu valley about the adverse impacts of forest fires.
We have open our main office in Banjar to be closer to more local people. The front part of our premises have been arranged in a café. The café business in entirely in the hands of women. The café is named "Life Lovers" and it is frequented by the locals so that they can know about our work and can get involved.
Himalayan Ecotourism is recognized as a unique concept and initiative in the Himalayas. We are a 4.9 out of 5 stars trek & tour operator. We have the heartly encouragment from leading figures from the non-profit sector, forest department and many other like-minded personalities/organizations.
We have upgraded our trekking plans to "Everest" and "K2" thanks to the a second import of excellent camping equipment. We are unbeatable on the comfort and hospitability offered during our treks.
We are initiating a huge local community movement to fight against intentional forest fires around the Great Himalayan National Park.
More women are joining our women empowerment program at the Life Lovers café. We are making hand-made soaps, body cream and balm, fruit jams & pickles. All natural, made locally by women with local ingredients. This is available for the tourists visiting us.
The ultimate purpose of our social enterprise is to create a replicable model of tourism business that promotes conservation and empowerment of the local community. And we are on the right track.
With a more regular volume of business our cooperative members feel more confident. After many years of struggle to be recognized by the local elite, the cooperative stands now at the national level of recognition being shortlisted for the Outlook Traveller "Indian Responsible Tourism Award" 2019.
We have been very active for reducing the number of intentional forest fires in the Tirthan valley. Our efforts seem to bear fruit as not a single forest fires was reported between the monsoon and the end of the year. That is well above our expectations !
Local women are employed as trekking staff for leading women trekkers. Considering the local culture this is a great achievement !
In 2018 we also started taking elderly and physically challenged persons into the wild. It is so nice to be in the wilderness with people who thought they won't be able to do it !
So far no women empowerment efforts could be sustained on the long run ! This has been quite discouraging. But we didn't give up the fight and a couple of women have been trained for making value-added local products. A complete workshop has been set up, and we plan to start the sales in 2019.
And the most important, our cooperative members have taken several initiatives for regeneration of their ecosystems and for involving the local women in new income generating activities. This is a good sign that our model starts working and will evolve based on the initiative of the locals.