In the small northern community of Lahaul Valley in the Himalaya, 139 ‘mahila mandals‘, women groups, in all but one of the 28 panchayat, or village councils, have vowed to save the forests. This gorgeous forest valley lies between 13,000 and 20,000 feet above sea level, and to ensure their continued survival, the community members have vowed not to cut down trees in the forests for their fuel and shelter needs. Rather, they guard them. Fines have been put in place and societal shunning should anyone venture in to take wood. The government will supply wood for the community and permit 10 days of forest materials use per year. This is all part of an effort to increase and preserve the biodiversity of the valley despite the devastation incurred in the face of hydropower plants.
Wildlife officials said migration of the Asiatic ibex – a wild goat species – and the Himalayan blue sheep or ‘bharal’ in the valley is common during winters. Even the sighting of the red and the common fox goes up in the villages.
One aspect the Times of India article neglected to touch on, was where the government-supplied wood was coming from.