China is a land of extremes, with rapid development over the past several decades and an extraordinary natural and cultural heritage. Its great diversity of ecosystems, traditional and modern land uses, cultures and livelihoods – all make this country amongst the most special in the world. China’s western mountain regions are especially diverse.
China is undergoing a difficult start to the new year. Much is already highlighted in the media, both in China and abroad; we can only imagine all the personal stories behind the scenes. However there is hope, too, as health service providers and ordinary citizens are showing concern for their neighbours.
Custodian communities and their ICCAs – Territories of Life face unprecedented stresses and threats arising from the socio-ecological changes sweeping the world. Increasingly, however, they are also being recognised as among the best hopes for the conservation of biological and cultural diversity left on the planet… Plateau Perspectives is a member of the ICCA Consortium and seeks to support indigenous peoples and local communities through practical measures as well as developing new partnerships and solutions.
The high mountain regions of the Tibetan Plateau and across Central Asia suffer from some of the world’s harshest environmental conditions. Shrinking natural resources, especially water, often leads to rising insecurity… Snowstorms, drought, earthquakes and conflicts also may arise… Where possible, Plateau Perspectives aims to continue partnerships even in desperate times in the regions where it serves.
QGF is dedicated to supporting local communities and organization in the Tibetan plateau region to improve people’s quality of life and help protect the natural environment. Plateau Perspectives is supporting these important endeavours in several ways.
“Horseback Planet Society” was established to help develop sustainable community tourism in mountains regions, building on early work pioneered in the Yangtze River headwaters and the Qinghai Lake area. With a focus on environmental conservation and on horse-riding as a way to connect with nature and local cultures, the Society’s approach to responsible tourism is gaining great popularity in China. Plans are now also being put in place to further extend the reach of its mission, including the development of community partnerships in the Tianshan and Caucuses mountains.
Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the wellbeing of local people.” Plateau Perspectives is building local capacities in community-based tourism for development. The Qinghai Ecotourism website was built to promote this important concept and approach in China, with a focus on Qinghai Province, and to promote awareness of local community tourism ventures in the Tibetan Plateau region.
Yurta Association promotes partnerships and conservation of biocultural diversity in High Asia. Cultural anthropologist Mr Carralero is working with a range of partners in High Asia to establish a ‘World Yak Herders Association’. Partnering organizations include Mountain Partnership, University of Central Asia, Kegawa Herders Cooperative and Plateau Perspectives.
Protected areas, or PAs, are areas that receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological and/or cultural values. As outlined by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), PAs yield flows of economically valuable goods and services that benefit society, secure livelihoods, and contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Plateau Perspectives initiated a rapid response, establishing a medical camp and providing immediate emergency care for over 1,200 people within two days of the earthquake that devastated Yushu on 14 April 2010. In later phases, basic household supplies as well as equipment for emergency response teams were purchased and distributed in Yushu by a team of volunteers from China and abroad.
The NGO Sichuan Shuguang Community Development Training Center aims to strengthen community abilities and to promote communities’ “harmonious development” and well-being through participatory work methods. It is collaborating with the Plateau Perspectives team on several projects, including the development of herders’ associations and local development revolving funds.
Founding in 2005, D-Starine encourages and trains volunteers to serve on disaster relief projects and on community development and reconstruction programmes. It is committed to enhancing communication and promoting exchanges between urban youth and a variety of ethnic groups from all over the world. D-Starine has cooperated with Plateau Perspectives since 2010.
Plateau Perspectives’ community health work has included training of doctors and women’s health workers, immunizations and other preventative health measures, the establishment of community health centres and rehabilitation work with people with disability.
Veterinary trainings were given to animal health workers in Zaduo county in December 2009 and July 2010.
While Plateau Perspectives’ work is focused on community development and protecting the natural environment in mountain regions, occasionally there are special circumstances that warrant a change of focus – at least temporarily. Such is the case when natural disasters strike, such as severe snowstorms.
Plateau Perspectives has organized several study tours over the past few years in order to learn from national and global experiences about strategic development topics or practices related to resource governance and management, protected areas management, poverty alleviation and community-based tourism.
As wildlife recovers from natural and anthropogenic pressures, populations increase and behaviours change. In recent years, the level of human-wildlife conflict in the Sanjiangyuan region has been increasing, especially with brown bears. This project sought to trial the viability of solar-powered electric fences as a safeguard against intrusions by bear into herders’ winter homes.
Basic education is a fundamental asset that helps with regional socioeconomic development. Early in our work in the Yangtze River headwaters, local community members and leaders requested Plateau Perspectives to support them in developing their own primary schools – initially in the form of tent schools, which could be moved as required to fit the needs of the Tibetan nomadic pastoral lifestyle.
Plateau Perspectives has partnered with a variety of academic institutes and research centres over the years, especially in Qinghai Province and Tibet Autonomous Region, China. Areas of collaboration have included natural resource management, wildlife monitoring and research, social development, and applied civil engineering to enhance access in remote mountain regions of the Tibetan plateau.
To summit K2: an extraordinary achievement! This also can be said of the Kegawa-kora partnership, which brings together Tibetan herders from the heart of the Tibetan plateau and an elite outdoors clothing company that seeks simultaneously to meet the needs of extreme mountain adventurers and to protect the ecology and the cultures of the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau region.
Situated at the foot of Namche Barwa Mountain (7,795 m) in eastern Tibet Autonomous Region, China, the Langduo Village Clinic was built to serve the many nationalities who live in this rural district. This village clinic was built by Plateau Perspectives and is dedicated to the memory of Jane M Torrance, who supported the Tibetan people for many years through her faithful service as the charity’s administrator in Scotland.
Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the wellbeing of local people.” Plateau Perspectives is building local capacities in community ecotourism with the aim to promote local development as well as environmental conservation including protected area management. Partners include communities and responsible tour operators in China, Kyrgyzstan, and beyond.
A major earthquake devastated Yushu on 14 April 2010. More than 2,200 people died and around 10,000 people were left seriously injured. Plateau Perspectives assisted with immediate medical care, and subsequently also with development of regional rehabilitation services.
A community-managed revolving fund for local development was first trialled in Lari in 2011. Supported by Ford Foundation, this project works with herding communities to assess social and natural capital and build management capacities in ways that promote community level autonomy.
Launched in 2010, Kegawa Herders Cooperative now has over 90 member households. As voluntary association of entrepreneurs, the coop encourages innovative thinking as it helps to create new business opportunities in high grassland regions of the Tibetan plateau.
Plateau Perspectives has promoted community based governance and management of natural resources in many ways over the past decade, from support for the development of herders’ cooperatives, to community-based ecotourism, to collaborative snow leopard conservation.
The Snow Leopard Community Conservation Project has clearly demonstrated the benefits of working closely with herders for conservation. Traditional custodians of the land are the best partners for ensuring a sustainable future, and should be supported to manage biodiversity.
Health is a major problem in remote mountain regions, such as the Tibetan plateau. In particularly, mothers’ and children’s health was found to be especially poor – with around a quarter of children dying within their first year of life. Upgrading the professional abilities of village level health workers is the first line of defence.
Quinoa is a nutritious grain originally grown in South America. It is well adapted to high altitudes and harsh, dry environments. With excellent nutritional and economic value, quinoa can contribute to enhanced food security along with poverty alleviation on the Tibetan plateau.