Ecosphere, Spiti – transforming lives in Lahaul & Spiti, the eco-friendly way

Ecosphere, Spiti – transforming lives in Lahaul & Spiti, the eco-friendly way

Ecosphere was founded in 2006 by Sunil Chauhan & Ishita Khanna, an alumnus of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, as a combination of three non-governmental organisations—Muse, Spiti Trans-Himalayan Action Group (STAG) and Spiti Seabuckthorn Society (SSS).

Ecosphere is a social enterprise which is a collaborative effort of the local community of Spiti and
professionals from diverse backgrounds, with a wide spectrum of skills and experience, effectively
spanning the bridge from the general to the niche.

Our focus is to create sustainable livelihoods that are linked to nature and culture conservation. As a
social enterprise it is mandate to address the triple bottom-line of conservation, development and
economies, which also forms the very foundation of our genesis.

Passion for conservation, mountain travel and adventure is the fulcrum of coming together for this
venture. Some of the team members have college and university educations that strongly support the
claims. Other members of the team have (adrenaline) educations that no educational institution can
provide.

Eco sphere team have wandered the Himalayas (and will continue to do so) and most people we have
come across have been awed by its grandeur, very few have remained untouched. We wish for this
great legacy of the Himalayas to thrive so that future generations can equally savour its beauty and bounties.

Ecosphere have a commitment not only to the development of the place, people and resources of this
region but also to the outside world with whom we wish to share this rich natural and cultural heritage
and the traditional knowledge of healing and health.

Ecosphere endeavour to provide an opportunity to all, to become active participants in giving back to the
region through the range of activities and products which enhance local economies, link up to nature &
culture conservation and overall development of the region.

Travel

Ecosphere offers you a versatile range of travel programs and experiences that integrate the various
facets of Spiti and offer the traveler a unique and exclusive insight into the numerous mystical and
hidden aspects of Spiti Valley.

Expect the unexpected and immerse yourself in the moment. It is not only about what we experience, but
how we choose to experience it and who we choose to experience it with.

The essence of Ecosphere journeys lie in the subtle linkages that are built within the very fabric of the
trips that make travel meaningful and beneficial for the local communities, environment and the travelers.
Ecosphere’s trips redefine the conventional form of travel and gives an ingenuous essence to the spirit of
travelling with a difference. From being one of the most memorable trips for most of the travellers,to being a carbon positive trip, to creating additional livelihoods and revenues for the local communities, this is a journey that merges conservation, sustainable development and travel holistically.

Organics

A traditional form of agriculture, better known to the modern world as organic, is just a mere way of life
for the people of remote Trans-Himalayan regions such as Spiti.

The Trans-Himalayas are one of the most enigmatic places that continue to enchant humans across the
globe. An irresistibly alluring moonscape, a thriving cultural heritage, a biological diversity as found
nowhere else, a storehouse of traditional knowledge, a unique haven of environmental and spiritual
integrity, a place where surely the gods must have lived.

Ecosphere brings to you some of the Himalayas best kept and little known secrets in a range of products
that will rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit.

The unique ecosystems of these Trans-Himalayan regions are richly endowed with naturals and
organics. Traditional practices and knowledge has enabled Ecosphere to hand pick some of the most
exotic and healthy fruits, herbs and crops as a rare and generous blessing from the Himalayas.
Ecosphere has streamlined highly eco sensitized methods for extracting and sourcing these rare
Himalayan herbs, fruits and crops.

By promoting indigenous produce, Ecosphere ensures the conservation of the regions diverse traditional
crops and fruits, the promotion of organic agriculture, the overall health of the soil and sustainable
livelihoods for the local populace.

Conservation & Development

Mountain ecosystems and economies share an intricate balance of space for opportunities. Whereas
livelihoods are a critical area of concern for the development needs of the regions in question, ensuring
the balance with the environment is equally critical to their sustainability. Spiti has been the nurturing
ground for various initiatives of Muse, Spiti Seabuckthorn Society and Spiti Trans-Himalayan Action
Group who have been working in the Spiti valley for over 10 years on a wide array of development and
conservation issues. These organisations have come together under a common platform – Ecosphere –
to ensure that each one’s strengths can be directed towards the realisation of a common goal –
sustainable development for the entire region. Some of the projects that these organisations have been
involved in are focussed on:

Livelihood generation from local surpluses such as Seabuckthorn & other wild and organic produce with
the aim of enabling the conservation of indigenous natural resources through the linkage of economics to
conservation.

Promotion & development of responsible eco-travel in the valley to enable tourism to be profitable for
local communities, ecology, culture and travellers alike.

Promotion of Green Houses as a means of providing fresh vegetables to the local populace through out
the year, besides providing an additional income source.

Providing energy efficient housing solutions through the development of Solar Passive Houses which in turn contribute to mitigating impacts of global warming.

Revival and promotion of local handicraft aiding in their conservation as well assisting the local women
with an additional income source.

Addressing wildlife conservation issues through addressing issues of human-wildlife conflicts and
improving livestock herding practices.

Initiatives to manage waste and reduce plastic waste generation through set up of water refilling
systems, garbage management in villages.

The Dhankhar Initiative – Restoration of the Dhankhar Monastery structure, frescos and thangkas.

All the above projects aim at establishing the triple bottom line linkage of livelihoods, conservation and
development. Ecosphere uses all revenues it generates for conservation and development activities.

Stories

Fourteen years ago, Sonam was one of the many unemployed youths in Spiti who did odd jobs for a
living.

He hardly knew the importance of Spiti’s rich flora or fauna, especially about a wild berry that grew in the
rugged mountains of Himalayas.

Cut off from the rest of the world for almost six months due to heavy snowfall, the villagers of Spiti – living
in some of the highest points in Asia – had few options for sustainable livelihood and hardly any regular
income for many years.

All this changed after they discovered the nutritional and medicinal value of seabuckthorn, a wild berry
rich in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, which could be marketed as a magic recipe for good health.

Thanks to a unique initiative by Ishita Khana to improve the quality of lives of the 12,000 odd villagers in
Spiti, many families have begun cultivating seabuckthorn, selling it under the organic brand named
called ‘Tsering’ (which means blessings for life), which is now available across India.

Locals who were unaware of the potential of seabuckthorn were not growing it. We initiated a project to
set up a processing unit to make juice, jam, tea and fruit drink concentrate. This project has increased
income especially for women. Ecosphere have been able to educate the community on the value of
preserving this wonderful berry.

In the last 14 years, Ecosphere has transformed the lives of community in many ways.

Due to the adverse weather conditions, they could not grow the vegetables in the villages. Procuring
vegetables from town which was 8-10 hours drive was one of the biggest problems for villagers. This
made it expensive and also increased the carbon footprint.

Ecosphere’s initiative to set up greenhouses has been a path breaking initiative. Ecosphere has set up
100 green houses for the villagers and the monasteries, where people actively grow vegetables for the
community.

Renewable energy projects have been another big success. Ecosphere has built 500 solar-passive
houses. Ishita and her team’s relentless efforts have seen a drastic reduction in the usage of wood,
which in turn reduced black carbon emissions.

Ecosphere continues to work on economic empowerment with the sale of organic products, conservation
of the environment and introduction of several environment-friendly products like solar lights, geysers,
cutting down fuel consumption. The best part about the venture is that all the profits are ploughed back
into supporting the people and sustaining the environment-friendly measures.

Contact

Ecosphere Office
Old Bazaar Kaza – 172114
Spiti,Himachal Pradesh
INDIA
+91.9418860099, +91.7673903530, +91.8988471247

www.spitiecosphere.com

 

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