Sagarmatha National Park
Sagarmatha is an exceptional area with dramatic mountains, glaciers and deep valleys, dominated by Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world (8,848 m). Several rare species, such as the snow leopard and the lesser panda, are found in the park. The presence of the Sherpas, with their unique culture, adds further interest to this site. © UNESCO
2020 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Dramatic high mountain scenery and superlative natural phenomena including the planet’s highest mountain
Geological features of outstanding scenic value
i) - As visitors stay for around 12 days on average the number of ‘visitor impact days’ (in 2014/15) was around 420,000 visitor days per year (around 700,000 in 2019).
ii) - Further complexity comes from the number of non-tourist support crew in the form of guides, porters, cooks etc. who also impact on the property. It is generally accepted that each organised tour visitor is supported by a support crew of three, while visitors that organise their own trek usually hire the services of two porter/guides. Based on a formula provided by the Nepal Mountaineering Association, the Advisory Mission estimated that the number of total user days (tourists plus support crew) for 2014/15 would be have been 1,735,000 (2,871,000 in 2019).
iii) - 70% or more of the visitor pressure is concentrated during two 8-10-week periods (the autumn and spring seasons) when visitors experience overcrowding.
It is not yet known how this alarming increase in the number of users and their impact on garbage disposal, human waste management, general sanitation, trail erosion, overcrowding at monasteries and religious sites, congestion on trails and bridges and excessive noise are affecting the natural ecosystem. The 2016 IUCN Advisory Mission recommends that the State Party establish an appropriate carrying capacity, particularly for peak periods, and to implement an objective analysis of a wide range of protected area management considerations (IUCN, 2016). The Management Plan provides a broad range of objectives and well considered strategic actions to address the threat of the increasing tourism on the property. While it does not directly address the recommendation to establish a 'carrying capacity' for the property, it does propose to study the impact of tourism on ecological aspects to determine the Limits of Acceptable Change to help in devising a site-specific method for regulating tourism.
The economic success of the local Sherpa people has resulted in parts of the property being occupied by people who do not share the Sherpas link with the environment and their economic well-being is based entirely on tourism. Such impoverished communities often find themselves with no option other than exploiting local biodiversity resources to sustain themselves, either by hunting for food or hunting to sell (IUCN Consultation, 2020). In 2020 (and likely in the coming years as well) Covid-19 will produce a dramatic fall in tourist numbers, which will have some benefits on the ecosystem but on the other will be very hard economically for many communities that have become all but entirely dependent of tourism. A return to subsistent hunting/gathering for survival should not be overlooked. This dip in tourism related income may affect not only the traditional Sherpa communities, but particularly the new arrivals from outside the buffer zone who may not have other means of living (IUCN Consultation, 2020).
It proposes to initiate the use of cutting-edge technologies such as a Conservation Drone to monitor key species and their habitat and to initiate real time SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) patrolling. It further proposes to form an anti-poaching unit supported by a volunteer intelligence network.
- The selective harvesting of large trees for timber has made the forests increasingly younger;
- Much of the upper elevation landscapes used primarily for livestock grazing and collecting fodder, wild foods, and medicinal and aromatic plants are also becoming increasingly important for tourism;
- The traditional herding camps being developed in some tourist villages are leading to pressure on the alpine vegetation resources;
- Unmanaged grazing by the domesticated cattle in the Park poses serious threat to Snow Leopard habitat;
- The population of Red Panda faces threats from livestock grazing and other human-induced activities such as collection of fuel-wood, timber, mushrooms and other non-timber forest products (NTFPs) by the local herders, hotel operators and pilgrims;
- Musk deer are threatened by habitat degradation and competition from grazing by domestic livestock.
While The Plan provides a range of actions to address these issues, the sustainability of the use of the property’s natural resources requires careful monitoring and regular reassessment.
Pollution resulting from large numbers of tourists is yet to be properly addressed.
There is some cause for concern that NTFPs are being over-exploited and this concern grows as new tourism products are evolving in the alpine villages.
|№||Organization||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|1||Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee||Trail and base-camp clean-up, recycling, village waste management, environmental education, tourism education|
|2||Khumbu Sherpa Culture Conservation Society||Programs to promote strengthening of linkages between culture and conservation, including traditional protection of sacred forests and other sacred natural sites and management of community forests and grazing areas. This includes emphasis on youth programs and inter-generational dialogues.|
DNPWC. (2016). Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zones Management Plan 2016-2020. Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Government of Nepal.
Daconto, G. (2007) Analysis of future scenarios for Sagarmatha National Park: Scenario planning as participatory decision support tool. Hindu Kush-Karakorum-Himalaya Partnership Project.
IUCN (1979) World Heritage Nomination – IUCN Technical Evaluation, Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal). [online] Available at: <http://whc.unesco.org/document/152019>.
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IUCN (2104) IUCN Confidential Stakeholder Consultation IUCN Gland, Switzerland.
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Sherpa, S.F., Shrestha, M., Eakin, H. et al. (2019). Cryospheric hazards and risk perceptions in the Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park and Buffer Zone, Nepal. Nat Hazards 96, 607–626 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-018-3560-0
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State Party of Nepal. (2017). Report of the State Party to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of the Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal). [online] Kathmandu, Nepal: Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/documents/ (Accessed 22 October 2019).
State Party of Nepal. (2019). Report of the State Party to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of the Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal). [online] Kathmandu, Nepal: Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/documents/ (Accessed 5 March 2020).
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UNESCO. (2010). Report on the State of Conservation of Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. State of Conservation Information System of the World Heritage Centre. [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at: <http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/537> (Accessed 22 October 2019).
UNESCO. (2014). Report on the State of Conservation of Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. State of Conservation Information System of the World Heritage Centre. [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at: <http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/2872> (Accessed 22 October 2019).
UNESCO. (2018). Report on the State of Conservation of Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. State of Conservation Information System of the World Heritage Centre. [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3663 (Accessed 22 October 2019).
Watson, C.S. and King, O. (2018). Everest's thinning glaciers: implications for tourism and mountaineering. Geology Today, 34(1), pp.18-25.
World Heritage Committee (2014) Decision: 36 COM 8E Sagarmatha National Park Adoption of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value (Nepal). In: Decisions Adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th Session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012). [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at: <http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4841> [Accessed 8 April 2015].