Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (MAPs) Project (Nepal and India)

The Khangchendzonga region of Central Asia, which comprises parts of Nepal and northern India, is a global biodiversity hotspot and requires intensive, coordinated conservation efforts. Residents of this impoverished region are heavily dependent on natural resources, especially forests and pastureland. India‘s national ban on grazing has forced herders to shift their livestock into Nepal, putting increased pressure on traditional grazing areas and forcing herders to cut forests to create new grazing areas. The goal of this multi-year project is to conserve the biodiversity of the Khangchendzonga landscape and improve the quality of life of the people living in the region.

Since 2003, TMI has worked to conserve biodiversity in the corridors of the Khangchendzonga landscape between Nepal and Sikkim. By the end of 2009, the project had trained over five thousand farmers to cultivate medicinal plants as an alternative to wild collection of endangered species. Sales from only one of the medicinal plant species generated more than $70,000 in revenue in 2009 alone. Working closely with more than four hundred shepherds, TMI has helped reduce livestock herds that graze in these biodiversity rich forests by more than 25%, and contributed to an 85% reduction in deforestation. Reduction in herd size, accomplished through improved breeding programs, as well as the introduction of nutritionally efficient stall feeding has taken pressure off grazing lands and forest, while increasing the productivity of the remaining livestock . TMI has also helped to convince herding communities in Sikkim to shift from herding to ecotourism-based enterprises, generating more than $33,000 in earnings in 2006. T date, villagers have planted more than seven hundred thousand native seedlings and have reforested over three thousand hectares of degraded forest land. TMI has continued to extend these programs to more communities in the Khangchenjunga region, helping resource-dependent families increase their stake in their communitieswhile protecting local biodiversity.