Because there is no immediate and direct threat of life, it is difficult to appreciate or to see the gradual diminution in the quality of life caused by the innumerable acts of environmental degradation.
Contamination of our Himalayan environment, together with an alternation in vegetation, drainage and runoff patterns, has increased at an unprecedented rate.
The management of our ecology in a way that allows our valued trekkers and climber to still fulfill their aesthetic, cultural and challenge needs, requires a committed sharing of responsibility.
NMA has uploaded the guidelines for you as one step towards making this partnership of caring for our mountains a reality. The contents suggest proven ways to protect our environment and to stop the extinction of Nepal’s “endangered spaces”.
I. TREK PREPARATION
A. Who organizes?
1.If you decide to book through an agency, ensure it is a reputable firm that provides proof of its knowledge of the area you wish to visit, as well as of an environmental code of practice.
2. Select less traveled routes to reduce impact on popular trails; or
3. Select or asked to be guided on less frequented alternative trails along the main route.
C. Group size:
4. Limit your party to about 10 if tenting; larger groups place more strain on tent sites.
D. clothing and equipment
5. If concerned about being conspicuous, dark or earthen colored clothes, backpacks and tents blend in better with the natural surroundings.
6. Carry a small stove and fuel for cooking to save on firewood.
7. Take along a couple of garbage bags to save on firewood.
8. Use a tent with poles and water proof floor to make it unnecessary to cut trees for tent poles or to dig a ditch for rainwater.
9. Attach earphones to your (indispensable?) radio or cassette player, so as not to disturb others at a campsite or on the trail.
10. Repack food from aluminum foil, cans and bottles into plastic bags to reduce weight, space and litter. If it cannot be repacked, consider leaving it at home.
F. Respect for people:
11. Keep discreet by not shouting or loudly playing a radio or cassette player.
G. Respect for wildlife:
12. Help wild animals remain undisturbed by using only telephoto lens or binoculars for close-ups.
13. Leave wild animals to their natural diet by not feeding them.
14. Do not carve on trees: you may scar them for life.
H. Respect for “things”? Yes!
15. Leave alone stones, wood and metal statues, cravings and shrines; never touch painted religious symbols, figures and frescoes or other cultural historical or archeological sites and artifacts. You can admire and photograph these, but also let future trekkers enjoy discovering them and, more importantly, respect the local people’s use of the above.
16. Never disturbed moraine, glaciers or ridge top cairns; they may be essential navigation aids for traders, herders, and other travelers.
I. Trail Hints:
17. Stay of paths closed by logs or rocks; local people sometimes close certain paths that have been replaced by safer or better routes.
18. Do not shortcut obvious switchbacks; if others follow you, it will lead to erosion.
19. Spread out when walking off the path in flower meadows and avoid trampling some plants.
21. If stopping to eat in the lodge, remember that local meal are usually prepared between 9.00 and 11.00am; outside of those hours, extra firewood will be needed to prepare some times for you. In the evening, too, try to eat when others do.
21. If camping out, use stoves whenever possible; stoves are mandatory in National Parks.
22. Portable stove cooking is fast and efficient and saves cutting firewood.23. Stoves are much safer when dryness, dense vegetation or winds may create a fire hazard.
24. Always use stoves above the tree line to preserve sparse vegetation and to discourage the use of scare firewood brought from lower elevation.
25. Built a fire as a last resort; use it only for cooking, and keep it small.
26. Built, where possible, on inorganic soil such as beaches, dry washes or sand, or else on snow, rock, ice or gravel.
27. Ringing with rocks does not prevent a fire from spreading, so leave stones where they lie.
28. Built in existing fireplace in high use areas; douse with water when finished.
29. If you must built on a previously unused site, then douse with water, scatter ash and “naturalize” the site when finished.
30. Collect firewood some distance from camp and from several locations so as not to deplete any one area.
31. Collect only firewood which is dead, lying in the ground and breakable with your hands; alternatively, purchase a load of firewood from a nearby farmer.
33. Most items, clothing and even bodies may be adequately cleaned without soap; if you do need soap, use a biodegradable type to minimize contamination of water and vegetation.
N. Human Waste:
34. Urinate on rocks instead of on vegetation in order to keep away salt-craving wildlife.
35. If urinating in snow, kick some over your urination to cover the color.
36. Minimize health risks to others by defecating at least 30 meters away from trails, water, houses, campsites and high waterline by river and lakes.
37. If you have diarrhea and/or the distance from the trail is limited by the terrain (e.g. steep slope above and below), then at east ensure that your feces are exposed to the sun and unlikely to be walked on; this way decomposition will be quicker.
38. Learn to clean yourself from a “lota” (jug) of water, but if toilet paper is necessary, burn it after use.
39. Groups should use temporary latrines dug at least 20cm. deep and covered after usage with soil; with pit is full or site is abandoned, covered latrine with a combination of soil, pine needles, cones, twigs and small stones.
40. In snow, a concentration of waste will not decompose; so defecate in individual small holes that you cover with snow after use. Ideally, if you find an isolated spot which has little chance of being seen by someone else then defecated on the surface to expose your feces to the sun.
41. Use toilets wherever they are available.
O. Plain Garbage:
42. Prepare to rinse and pack out what cannot be eaten or burned; only paper, tampons and food scraps should be burned.
43. Dumping juices out of cans may increase the number of bothersome and disease-carrying insect and other vertebrates; so drink it all or dilute it in waste water.
44. Widely scatter waste water as well as animal and fish viscera on land. Pouring liquid cooking water in one spot contaminates the area with bad smells and attracts possibly hazardous insects, birds and other animals.
45. Use designated “refuse pits” where existing, for any metal, glass or plastic garbage you truly are unable to carry out.
46. Keep wrappers from chewing gum, candies, biscuits, medicine or film in your pocket until you arrive at a village where disposal is possible; if inside a private house, ask permission before throwing anything into a fire.
47. Improper garbage disposal increases the population of vertebrates which, in high densities, become sickly.
48. Trash facts: an aluminum soft drink or beer can will last for about 495 years; steel items for 95 years; ordinary plastics for 220 years; glass could last 1 million years. So doesn’t be a refuse-ink; pick up other people’s litter too!
V. GET AR-RESTED
49. In popular areas with established campsites (such as terrain adjacent to a lodge, school grounds, other obviously demarcated land), set up your tents on one of the established fields to reduce the spread of impact.
50. In remoter, less frequented areas selected a previously unused campsite to avoid creating sites that will be repeatedly used.
51. By rivers and lakes, camp below the high water line so that seasonal washes will clean the site.
52. Do not overload your camp site with too many people.
53. Flat sites without vegetation and with good drainage are preferable.
54. Do not rearrange a farmer’s field! Leave undisturbed large field stones, fence stone, fence posts, scarecrows, soil, vegetation and crops.
55. At high altitudes, vegetation needs the shelter of rocks, so moving them creates a permanent barren feature on matter how small.
56. Spending just a few nights at any one tenting site.
57. “Naturalize” the spot before leaving it.
Compiled & edited by: Ivan G. Somlai