WWF Nepal and SRAN sign MOU to promote traditional ecological knowledge
Around 80% of world’s snow leopard habitat across the Himalaya is under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism, and faith-based practices such as Sowa Rigpa are hugely popular among indigenous communities in snow leopard range countries, including Nepal. Sowa Rigpa, translated as ‘the science of healing’ is believed to have been propounded by Lord Gautam Buddha, and is based on faith values of interdependence between nature and people and promotes sustainable use of natural products for wellbeing of humans beings.
“Faith and culture provided the first conservation values historically, ensuring the existence of wildlife we see around us today. As an organization focused on the wellbeing of both people and nature, this partnership will be critical in conserving traditional knowledge, values and culture while ensuring sustainable use of medicinal and aromatic plants combining modern science.” said Dr Ghana Shyam Gurung, Country Representative, WWF Nepal.
“Sowa Rigpa is a practice that relies on nature and natural products. Therefore, nature preservation forms not just basis of Sowa Rigpa’s past, but also a crucial factor for survival in future,” said Amchi (Dr.) Tenjing Dharke Gurung, President, SRAN.
In February 2021, WWF Nepal in partnership with SRAN piloted a workshop wherein experienced and senior practicing Amchis and modern Amchi students discussed prospects and challenges for Sowa Rigpa and nature conservation in view of changing global circumstances, and issues of mutual benefit including sustainable harvest of medicinal plants. Elder Amchis were also provided an orientation on western diagnostics and their uses in Sowa Rigpa.
The MoU signed today, draws commitments from both organizations to document and appropriately promote traditional ecological knowledge, assess status, and facilitate conservation of medicinal plants, phase out practices that contradict modern needs, and document trends on modern illnesses among Himalayan communities, for mutual benefits for people and nature. In the first of the five-year MoU, the parties are working to assess status and trends of illnesses and medicinal plants in Mustang district, as well as conduct a consultation with Amchis in Dolpa.