Mountain Institute (Nepal)

The Mountain Institute’s programs in Asia started in the mid-1980’s with the “Heart of the Himalaya” initiative. TMI worked to establish two mountain areas as protected: the Makalu-Barun National Park in Nepal and the Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) Nature Preserve in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. These achievements could not have been accomplished without a trusting collaborative relationship between the park managers and the local communities. These pioneering projects were some of the earliest iterations of the community-based project design that has since become the cornerstone of TMI’s programs.

Our Impact

  • Coordinated the establishment and management of Makalu Barun National Park in Nepal and Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) National Nature Preserve in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China – combined these two protected areas cover more than 36,000 km2
  • Distributed more than 15,000 metric tons of food to food-scarce areas of western Nepal in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme
  • Have trained more than 16,000 farmers to cultivate and harvest medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) in Nepal as a means to earn a living
  • Have helped develop more than 400 community forest user groups in Nepal
  • Have established more than 140 reforestation nurseries in Nepal, India and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China
  • Have carried out 65 cultural preservation projects with local people in Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China including the restoration of Pangboche Monastery, production of the first Sherpa language dictionary and recovery of the Nixi Black Pottery tradition
  • Fostered the creation of a Sikkim-based non-profit organization in India called The Mountain Institute India


Exchanges and Study Tours – Since its inception The Mountain Institute has promoted the exchange of ideas and learning between mountain communities across the globe. We have conducted exchanges between Tibetans and Peruvians, Nepalis and Chinese, Indians and Nepalis, Tibetans and Americans, and West Virginians with North Carolinians.

Community Watershed Co-Management for a Safe Water Supply – This project ensures clean and safe water supply for Shangri-la Town, Yunnan, China, by facilitating multi-stakeholder collaboration for improved reservoir watershed management.

Pasturelands to Profits – This project links nomadic Tibetan herder families with more profitable markets while ensuring the sustainability of the grasslands. Community-based rangeland managment pilot activities have reduced livestock mortality by more than 60%, which has more than doubled the number of livestock each household can sell.

Remote Mountain Area Climate Change Research Initative – This project will develop community surveys and a data analysis methodology that will increase our understanding of mountain people’s perceptions, threats, current adaptations, and needs regarding climate change.

Case Studies – The Mountain Institute recently completed two case studies concerned with conflict in mountain communities in Nepal and Peru. 1) “An Analysis of NGO Service Delivery Capacities in Nepal During Times of Conflict and Uncertanity,” and 2) “Private Sector and Local Community Relationships: the Role of PVOs and Local NGOs in Promoting Democracy, Conservation and Sustainability in Peru.”

Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) Training Center – The Mountain Institute is establishing a multi-purpose training center in the Thame Valley of Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park. This center will provide much-needed vocational training to poor and disadvantaged groups in the less-visited areas of the park.

Beyuls: Sacred Hidden Valleys of the Himalaya – Beyuls (sacred valleys) are unique to the Himalayan Region and to the followers of the Nyingma school of Buddhism. Nyingmas believe that many Himalayan valleys provide refuge to people in need.

Nixi Artisan Initative – The Mountain Institute has focused on the Tibetan handicraft industry in Yunnan Province of China, specifically on developing and preserving Nixi Black Pottery. According to archaelogical evidence, the black pottery from Nixi is an ancient local tradition dating back at least 2,000 years.

Transboundary Cooperation in Khangchendzonga – The Khangchendzonga area of Nepal and Sikkim (India) is a global biodiversity hotspot. The Mountain Institute has coordinated transboundary, landscape-level conservation efforts in this area

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