12 August 2013
Professor of economics, and conservationist, and mountaineer Dr. Harshwanti
Bisht has been selected to receive the Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy
Medal. According to Dr. Beau Beza, Program Director in the School of Global,
Urban and Social Studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the
award is presented "for remarkable service in the conservation of culture and
nature in mountainous regions. The medal both recognizes Sir Edmund Hillary's
own service on behalf of mountain people and their environment and also
encourages the continuing emulation of his example."
For 25 years, since 1989, Dr. Bisht has labored to improve conditions in the
Gangotri area of Uttarakhand, at the headwaters of the Ganges in northern
India. Her Save Gangotri project has planted tens of thousands of saplings,
organized eco-awareness campaigns, propagated endangered medicinal herbs, and
introduced ecotourism standards to an area that had been ravaged by climate
change and unregulated pilgrimage.
Bisht has had remarkable success in restoring the birch forests around Gau
Mukh (Cow Snout), the terminal area of Gangotri Glacier, ravaged by the
double-whammy of unmanaged pilgrimage and mass-market tourism as well as
climatic change. As the forests take hold, they have an increasingly
significant impact in increasing humidity and lowering local temperatures.
Dr. Bisht is showing that the action of a committed woman can make a
difference against forces that seem irresistible. In this case, Dr. Bisht and
her colleagues are reforesting the ancient birch stands alongside Gangotri
glacier, creating a slightly cooler microclimate that Dr. Bisht hopes will
slow the glacier's recession. Like all new grassroots efforts, it sounds
quixotic, but it is not. If we don't pitch in and help, our loss will be
See full announcement and article here: www.hillarymedal.com/medal2013.html
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