Alumni News In this issue weâ€™re catching up with Swapnil from 2013-14 cohort:
Swapnil Chaudhari Masters in Conservation Leadership 2012-13
A few months after graduation, I joined the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal as a Geospatial Lead for the project Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI) http://www.icimod.org/?q=9456. KSLCDI is a transboundary initiative developed through a participatory and iterative process among the national partners of Nepal, India and China. This programme aims to achieve long term conservation of ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity, while encouraging the resilience of the communities in the landscape, and safeguarding the cultural linkages between local populations. The Kailash Sacred landscape is a home to thousands of historical, natural and cultural heritage sites with over a million tourists visiting every year. Apart from that the area harbors some of the representative ecosystems of the Greater Himalaya. The lower altitude regions of Nepal and India have a population that is far below the average poverty line of both the countries. This confluence of the diverse issues, geo-politics and regionspecific biodiversity makes it an interesting as well as a challenging place to work!
I have been engaged with a team of over 20 people and I lead the geospatial component of the project. I am also encouraged to contribute in the component of ecosystem services assessment, livelihood development in terms of tourism and NTFP value chain improvement, and developing a framework for long term biodiversity assessment. I recently lead a 20 member expedition to the Api Nampa Conservation Area, one of the youngest protected area in Nepal. Apart from its great biodiversity it is also an extraction zone of a high value NTFP, specifically a fungus caterpillar called Ophiocordyceps sinensis that supports the livelihood of thousands of local people. The biggest winning factor for me has been the opportunities I have had to put what I leared on the MPhil in Cambridge into practice since I started working with ICIMOD. As I reflect back to the training during the MPhil, I can list the specific learnings that are helping me to perform and execute my task in a better way. First and foremost thanks to the international exposure with a variety of CCI organizations, I am better equipped to place the conservation and development context from local to international level.
Left: Itâ€™s a long way up... hiking in the Himalayas (Images: Swapnil Chaudhari)