Researchers Find Encouraging Changes in Mt. Everest’s Gama Valley

Yak relax in the setting sun with Mt. Everest in the background.
From late May to early June, Future Generations Graduate School faculty conducted a research expedition into Mt. Everest’s Gama Valley. The team, led by Dr. Daniel Taylor, were following up on conservation efforts that began with the establishment of the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve (QNNP) nearly thirty years ago. The team found that those efforts have continued to expand in the intervening years. As of today, eighteen nature preserves have been established throughout Tibet, which collectively protect over 54% of the autonomous region. Within the QNNP, the team discovered that many wildlife species appear to be rebounding in strong numbers with sightings of Tibetan gazelle, musk deer, tahr (wild goat), and numerous bird species. They also found many signs of snow leopard.
Located at the base of Mt. Everest’s Hidden (eastern) face, the Gama Valley is one of seven core zones of the QNNP. Established in 1989 by the People’s Republic of China within the Tibet Autonomous Region, the QNNP represents one of the first nature preserves in the world to be placed under the direct stewardship of local people in partnership with government. Since 1993, Future Generations has worked in partnership with the Chinese government to provide technical guidance, financial support, and capacity building to the Tibetan people to sustain the QNNP.
The Researchers in front of a map displaying Gama Valley trekking routes.

In accordance with the QNNP’s master plan, official trekking packages are now being offered in partnership between park authorities and local guides ensuring that good and equitable pricing practices are being adhered to. Designated trekking routes have been created with fixed camping sites, lowering the environmental damage, while maximizing the economic opportunities for local communities. Chinese tourists are now visiting the QNNP by the thousands each year. The park’s simultaneous mandates to preserve natural beauty and create economic opportunity are introducing new challenges for local communities such as trash collection and logistics management. Despite these challenges, the team was excited to find that both flora and fauna are increasing. Now back on North Mountain, the researchers are developing responses to the problems caused by overuse.

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