Turning Ladakh deserts green

Most of Ladakh is a high-altitude, cold-desert; but does it HAVE to be this way?

OVER-GRAZING TURNED MUCH OF LADAKH INTO A DESERT CENTURIES AGO.  IT WAS NOT 'CAUSED' BY THE CLMATE ALONE!  THIS BECAME CLEAR TO ME IN 2012 WHEN I VISITED THE FOTU LA (which can be seen in the image below - with many prayer flags in the foreground).  NOTE THE GOATS AND SHEEP SCOURING FOR ANY AVAILABLE BLADE OF VEGETATION THAT DOES NOT PROTECT ITSELF WITH SPINES OR A CHEMICAL MAKE-UP WHICH MAKES ITS FOLIAGE EITHER POISONOUS OR AT THE LEAST, UNPALATABLE.


YET ON THE FOTU LA YOU WILL FIND SATELITTE DISHES AND SOLAR PANELS (see below), WHICH HAVE BEEN FENCED OFF AND INSIDE THE FENCE, THE VEGETATION IS MUCH LUSHER AND GREENER...  IMAGE WHAT COULD HAPPEN IF LARGE AREAS WERE PROTECTED FROM TOO MUCH GRAZING, OVER MANY YEARS, THEN DECADES?  IS THIS REALISTIC TO ACHIEVE AND THUS TRANSFORM  PARTS OF LADAKH?  YES, YES, YES.  I HAVE THOUGHT THROUGH THE OBSTACLES, WHICH ARE PRIMARILY 'POLITICAL'.  IT WILL NOT BE EASY AND I NEED HELP. 

THE 'FENCING' MATERIALS CAN BE ROCKS, AS THERE ARE PLENTY OF THESE AVAILABLE IN LADAKH (WHICH ARE USED TO PROTECT FIELDS OF CROPS IN SOME AREAS).  WHY NOT VEGETATION?

BEFORE ANY MAJOR TRIALS COULD TAKE PLACE, SOME ADDITIONAL PLOTS, IN THE MOST PROMISING LOCATIONS, NEED TO BE PROTECTED, SO AS TO PROVIDE FURTHER EVIDENCE TO CONVINCE LADAKHIS, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND SCIENTISTS THAT IT REALLY CAN WORK.  PLUS ADDITIONAL STUDIES AND MONITORING OF THE VEGETATION WOULD NEED TO TAKE PLACE.  I AM WILLING AND CAPABLE OF SUPERVISING SUCH WORK. 

SO IF THE RAW MATERIALS (LOCAL ROCKS), ARE AVAILABLE (MEANING THE FINANCIAL COST WILL NOT BE HIGH), THEN WHAT ABOUT MANPOWER?  THE INDIAN ARMY HAS THE NECESSARY MAN-POWER AND CONTRIBUTING TO SOMETHING WHICH WILL ENRICH THE LIFE OF LADAKHIS WOULD RAPIDLY CREATE GOOD-WILL, AS WOULD INVOLVEMENT BY THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT.  SINCE THE LADAKHIS THEMSELVES HAVE FOR CENTURIES UNDERTAKEN 'ENGINEERING' PROJECTS USING JUST ROCKS TO SUPPLY THEIR SETTLEMENTS WITH GLACIAL MELT-WATER, BY SOMETIMES ELABORATE AND LENGTHY IRRIGATION CHANNELS, ONCE THIS PARTICULAR PROJECT GETS STARTED, THEY ARE LIKELY TO BE KEEN TO BE INVOLVED.  


A BONUS IS THAT A SELECTION OF LADAKHI SPECIES WHICH ARE UTLISED IN TIBETAN MEDICINE, WOULD PROSPER IN THE PROTECTED 'PLOTS', WHICH COULD BE HARVESTED IN A SUSTAINABLE WAY - HELPING TO JUSTIFY, IN THE SHORT-TERM, THE EXCLUSION OF GOATS AND SHEEP.  IN THE LONGER-TERM, FIRE-WOOD COULD BE HARVESTED FROM THE PLOTS, IN A MANAGED WAY.

NOT EVERY PART OF LADAKH IS SUITABLE FOR WHAT IS BEING PROPOSED, SO I AM NOT FANCIFULLY CLAIMING THAT THE WHOLE OF THE COUNTRY CAN RAPIDLY BE TURNED 'GREEN' OR THAT IT WOULD HAPPEN 'OVERNIGHT' BUT PROVIDED THE EFFORT CAN BE SUSTAINED OVER A NUMBER OF YEARS, A GENUINE TRANSFORMATION IS ACHIEVABLE.  AND WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT FOR LADAKH AND INDIA, TO HAVE SET AN EXAMPLE WHICH COULD BE FOLLOWED IN OTHER REGIONS OF THE WORLD.

I have used the above proclamation by India's first prime minister, Nehru, on the home page of this web-site and in many of my lectures.  IF the Indian Government were to get behind and support my proposal, then it would be a MIGHTY act, "in action... and its peaceful service of humanity".

IF ANYONE READING THIS SUPPORTS MY PROPOSAL AND CAN DRAW THE ATTENTION OF THOSE IN A POSITION TO ACT AT A GOVERNMENT LEVEL IN INDIA, THEN PLEASE DO SO.  I WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO PREPARE A MORE FORMAL PROPOSAL.

PREM NATH KOHLI VISITED LADAKH IN THE 1930s AND HAD HIS OWN IDEAS ON HOW, THROUGH THE KASHMIR FORESTRY DEPARTMENT, HE COULD HELP 'TURN LADAKH GREEN'. I AM CURRENTLY INQUIRING WITH HIS FAMILY IF THEY HAVE ANY DETAILS ABOUT HIS PROPOSALS.  IT WOULD BE GREAT TO HONOUR HIM FURTHER TO DEDICATE THIS PROJECT TO HIS MEMORY (for background to Kohli see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/introduction



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