Impact for Himalayan Biodiversity in Uttrakhand

Project Overview

The Impact for Himalayan Conservation initiative is an ambitious water conservation endeavor spearheaded by AWF, designed to foster positive change for the Himalayan community and its natural surroundings. By harnessing the power of strategic water storage from the hills, the project aims to combat water scarcity and ensure a dependable water supply for the local population. The holistic benefits of this initiative are substantial, stretching from replenishing vital natural resources to fortifying biodiversity and enhancing the microclimate of the area. The project serves as a guardian of a greener, healthier ecosystem that stands to benefit every living being in its vicinity. 

Location: State Uttarakhand; Villages of Nanital district, North Gola Range

Rationale for the Project:

Water Resource Conservation: The project aims to safeguard valuable water resources within the hilly landscape by harnessing the potential of strategic water storage. This primary goal directly addresses the issue of water scarcity and the associated challenges faced by communities reliant on seasonal water availability.

Soil Erosion Mitigation: The project acknowledges the detrimental effects of runoff-induced soil erosion. Through its well-considered approach, it endeavors to reduce the force of runoff, protect vital topsoil, and consequently bolster agricultural productivity. This objective not only supports local farmers but also contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Environmental Sustainability Promotion: At the core of the project’s philosophy is the preservation of biodiversity and improved soil health. The conservation of water resources facilitates the replenishment of natural habitats and resources, fostering a sustainable ecosystem. This objective extends beyond immediate gains, ensuring the well-being of both flora and fauna for generations to come.

Supporting Local Farmers: Recognizing the pivotal role of agriculture in the region’s economy, the project seeks to provide local farmers with a dependable water supply. By doing so, it directly contributes to elevated crop yields, enhanced food security, and improved livelihoods for the community.

Fostering a Greener, Resilient Future: The Chal Khal Project is committed to the long-term prosperity of the hilly areas and their inhabitants. By implementing effective water management and conservation practices, the project envisions a future characterized by sustainability, resilience, and positive change.

What are Chal & Khal Structures

Chal is a way of conserving water and protecting the land in the hills. It’s like a rectangular pit or trench dug into the hill slopes. When it rains, the water naturally flows into these chals from the top of the hills. AWF has been constructed 8 feet long, 2 and a half feet wide, and deep, and each chal can hold around 1500 liters of water. These chals not only store water for drinking and irrigation, but they also prevent soil erosion during heavy rains. It’s nature’s own method of saving water and keeping the land safe. People in India have been using this traditional technique for centuries because it’s cost-effective and easy to maintain. Plus, chals can improve soil quality and reduce the risk of flooding, making them a wonderful and sustainable solution for water management in hilly regions

Khals are a traditional water-saving method that has been used in Uttarakhand for a long time. They are simple structures that help store water for various purposes. AWF constructed 100 khals in the North Gola Range of Uttarakhand. These khals are about 4 meters wide and 1 meter deep, and each one can hold up to 12,500 liters of water.
During dry seasons, they keep water available for people and crops, ensuring there’s enough to go around. Moreover, khals act as barriers, preventing the land from eroding away when it rains heavily. This protects the fertile soil and supports agriculture. Khals also provide a reliable water source for animals, making it easier for farmers and helping sustain livestock. Additionally, by holding water, khals help in purifying it.

Location: State Uttarakhand; Villages of Dehradun district

Rationale for the Project

Climate change mitigation: The impacts of global climate change are increasingly evident, with rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events affecting communities worldwide. By planting 25,000 local trees, we aim to contribute to carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Trees act as natural carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and helping to mitigate climate change.
Landslide prevention: Uttarakhand, with its mountainous terrain, is susceptible to landslides, which pose a significant threat to human lives, infrastructure, and the environment. Reforestation efforts play a crucial role in preventing landslides by stabilizing slopes, improving soil structure, and enhancing water absorption capacity. The roots of trees hold the soil together, reducing erosion and minimizing the risk of landslides.

Sustaining Ecosystems and Preserving Biodiversity: The local ecosystem in Uttarakhand is rich in biodiversity, housing numerous plant and animal species. However, deforestation and habitat loss have adversely affected the natural balance. Our project will contribute to the restoration of natural habitats and support the conservation of diverse animal species, ensuring their survival and maintaining the ecological balance in the region. We seeks to promote coexistence between humans and wildlife by creating a harmonious environment where both can thrive together.

Water resource management: Uttarakhand faces challenges related to water scarcity, especially during dry periods. Building trenches for rainwater collection and distribution will help address this issue. These trenches will capture rainwater, allowing it to infiltrate into the ground, recharge groundwater sources, and maintain water availability. Additionally, by reducing surface runoff, the trenches help prevent soil erosion and control forest fires, safeguarding the environment and local communities.

Empowering Communities and Fostering Socio-economic Development: Our project goes beyond environmental benefits. It focuses on empowering local communities by providing skill development training in honey beekeeping and handicraft production. These initiatives create sustainable income opportunities, enhance livelihoods, and preserve traditional crafts and knowledge. By generating economic activities, we aim to uplift the socio-economic status of the communities and promote self-reliance.

Selection of Local Tree Species:

 Thorough research and consultation with environmental experts and community members is done for the selection of tree species. Only local and naturalized species are chosen, considering the specific needs of the area. The selected species, such as Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.), Plum (Prunus domestica), Pear (Pyrus communis), Walnut (Juglans spp.), Amla (Phyllanthus emblica) and Baheda (Terminalia bellirica) are suited to the local ecosystem and contribute to the project’s objectives effectively.