With improving infrastructure, access to these remote areas is becoming easier, presenting new opportunities for business and travel. This has resulted in increased pressure on natural resources particularly through the direct collection of medicinal and health-promoting products and increased domestic tourism. This is starting to erode traditional lifestyles and consequently undermine the wildlife protection that this provides, which ultimately may affect the conservation status of many species.
The proposed project will address this issue by using biological and socio-economic surveys to collect information on the species protected, the level of protection provided by traditional and cultural beliefs and the potential impacts of increased collection of natural resources and unregulated tourism. The information will be used to develop a strategy for eco-friendly sustainable natural resource use and tourism. The training and involvement of local in-country scientists, community groups and policy-makers is key to this project and increasing their capacity to undertake much of the proposed work is fundamental to the project. The project will explore the feasibility of establishing tourism-based activities to generate income for local people, including the use of “home-stays” within the monasteries and the integration of “high-end” nature and bird-watching tours to the area.