Because of its remarkable plant diversity, the Himalayan region has been named one of 34 official Global Biodiversity hotspots. The Kullu Valley, a major agricultural center in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), forms a significant part of this hotspot. Agriculture in the IHR is largely sustainable, but its success depends upon the ability of farmers to pollinate their crops.
To date, few major studies have focused on the plant species of the region due to which the region has been declared as ‘Data Deficit’ by IPCC. In addition, no studies to date have focused specifically on the role of declining Himalayan plant biodiversity on pollinators and the future of sustainable agriculture. This lack of knowledge limits the ability of the Indian Government to make meaningful policy decisions relative to agriculture and farming practices.
This Earthwatch project, based in the Kullu Valley, is part of a larger research study focused on pollinators in the IHR. Two additional studies in the Sikkim and Uttarakhand areas of the IHR will explore the status of pollinators for cucumbers, mustard, and cardamom, all of which are major sustainable crops in the region. Data collected from these three locations will form the basis of a regional plan for managing sustainable agriculture in a changing climate.
As an Earthwatch participant, you’ll be a part of the research team. You’ll assess and net capture bees and butterflies seen while walking set paths through apple orchards. You’ll also assess species diversity by recording tree, shrub, and herb leafing, flowering, and fruiting, helping to create a pollinization calendar for the region. In the lab, you’ll analyze soil samples and record and input data. After fieldwork is complete, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss any data-collection issues.
In addition to your volunteer work, project coordinators have set up opportunities for meeting local beekeepers, hiking, and exploring sights such as Naggar Castle, local temples, and museums.
Meet the Scientists
Dr. LMS Palni
Dr. LMS Palni is the Director of the G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment & Development. He is based at the Centre’s Headquarters in Kosi Katarmal, Almora Uttarakhand. Dr. Palni has a Doctorate from the University of Wales and started his career in the research faculty at Australia’s National University, Canberra. In October 2012 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy. He is also a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Palni’s broad area of research includes plant growth substances and plant responses to environmental changes, plant tissue culture, microbial interactions, biodiversity & biotechnology, rural development, and science & society related programmes in the context of the Indian Himalayan Region.
Dr. S.S. Samant
Dr. S.S. Samant has a PhD in Botany and specializes in Biodiversity Conservation and Management. He has more than 27 years experience of scientific research in the Indian Himalaya region and is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences India and Fellow of the Society of Ethnobotanists. He has a vast experience of working with local communities in the in Kullu area of India.
Dr. GCS Negi
Dr. GCS Negi has a PhD in Botany (Forest Ecology) and is a scientist at the G.B. Pant Institute. He is also a LEAD (Leadership in Environment & Development) fellow. Dr. Negi has more than 25 years of research experience in Himalayan ecology, specializing in forests, grasslands, agricultural ecosystems, and land & water resource management. His current scientific interests include forest ecosystem services and impact assessment.
Dr. Pradeep Mehta
Dr. Pradeep Mehta is a Research Manager for Ecosystem Services at Earthwatch. He has an MSc and Doctorate in Forestry from Kumaun University, Nainital and over 11 years of post doctoral experience in natural resource management and sustainable livelihood (mainly agriculture) in the Western Himalaya of Uttarakhand and Ladakh. He is the recipient of a Junior Research Fellowship through the Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education. Dr. Mehta has also completed a certificate course on Project Identification, Development and Management from Maastricht School of Management, Netherlands. Prior to joining Earthwatch, he was Country Representative for India at Appropriate Technology Asia. He has also worked at the Himmotthan, Dehradun (Sir Ratan Tata Trust), the Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA), Nainital and the Centre for Development Studies (CDS, Academy of Administration, Nainital).