Nepal, the size of Washington state, has a population of 22 million. It has one of the lowest GNPs' in the world, and with a geography that seems to be designed for yaks and mountain goats, it is remarkable that so many people inhabit such a relatively small space. There is no oil, gas, or minerals. In some areas forests have been depleted as wood is used for shelter, heat and cooking by the local people.
Increasing numbers of tourists put an added strain on the environment while at the same time generating badly needed foreign currency. Now approximately 150,000 trekkers come to walk on the finest hiking trails in the world. We often hear about garbage left on trails and in more remote high places by climbing expeditions, and how efforts are being made to clean up these areas.
In our ten years of travel to Nepal we have seen major improvements in the way the Nepalese and travellers treat the environment. The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) provides education for locals in water preservation, trail cleanliness and lodge hygiene. The Sagarmatha National Park has strict rules on the cutting of trees by Sherpas and trekking groups must now use kerosene. Tree planting programs are flourishing. The Austrian government completed a hydro project in 1995 for the Everest region that now provides electrical service to Namche and the regional villages. Instead of 200 loads of woods coming to Namche Bazar every day, now only 5 loads are brought in. Villages provide weekly cleanup crews that walk the busy 60 km. trail from Lukla to Tengboche.
As a trekking company bringing people to this mountainous land, we are committed to responsible travel. Our campsites are left clean and kerosene is used for kitchen fuel. The lodges we use provide electrical heat for food preparation and hot water. We support the reforestation program of the Hillary Foundation.