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‘The ones most in need have given it their most’

Sanju Negi

Sanju Negi

Sanju Negi, Treasurer, GHNP Community-Based Ecotourism Cooperative

Sanju is the treasurer of GHNP Community-Based Ecotourism Cooperative, which works with Himalayan Ecotourism to empower locals and grow sustainable tourism.

“As locals, many of us were opposed to the national park because it cut  off our right to the forest and our livelihood had depended on it. 

It was also the start of tourists and researchers starting to trickle in this region. A few years down the line, I met Stephan when he was talking about forming a cooperative. To me it seemed like a reasonable way to carry out a business and so I joined.

In the beginning, we would enrol anyone and everyone who was interested as a member of the cooperative. But it has been the ones most in need – the ones without any stable income or alternate means – who’ve given it their most.

All our trekking guides have to complete their training from a mountaineering institute. It’s very risky otherwise – even for us as a business, the reputation is at stake.

I had accompanied Keshavji and Stephan to New Delhi after Himalayan Ecotourism had been shortlisted for the Indian Responsible Tourism Awards by Outlook Responsible Tourism. 

Receiving two awards, both of which came to us as a surprise, in a room filled with the who’s who from the tourism sector was not only an honour, but the greatest recognition to date of what we, as a unit, not individuals, had been able to achieve in spite of the hardships and the resistance from local elite.

The lockdown changed things for us overnight but between the reforestation project and some work on our own farms, we’ve mostly been able to manage making ends meet.

We spent a bulk of our time during the monsoon season replanting mostly deodar (Himalayan cedar), silver oak, apricot, and a few persimmon varieties. We will undertake a similar replantation drive during the winter and continue along the treeline in Pekhri.”

 

Meet Stephan of Himalayan Ecotourism

Read more about Himalayan Ecotourism

Writer
  •  Elita Almeida 
Photographer
  •  Stuti Bhadauria 

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