Author: Jon Miceler, Director AP Programs, Inner Asian Conservation

Paper Abstract: Bordered on the west by Bhutan, to the north by China (Tibet) and to the east by Myanmar, the extreme northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh remains today a world little changed by the global forces rapidly shaping other parts of Asia. The sheer inaccessibility of this land where 64% of its geographic area is classified as mountainous, coupled with geopolitical tensions between India and China, has preserved arguably the most bio diverse, intact ecosystem left in Asia. This biodiversity is facilitated by:

• Convergence in the region of three major floral groups; the Indochinese/IndoHimalamalayan tropical lowland flora, the Sino-Himalayan/East Asiatic flora and the Western/Central Himalayan flora;
• Influence by two separate monsoonal systems; and
• Variation in elevation from 160 meters at the Assam border to over 7,000 meters on the mountain tops that form the states border with China.

Inner Asian Conservation (IAC) has chosen to focus its conservation and development initiatives at this tri-junction of political and ecological worlds. We are approaching conservation here with the understanding that conservation can best be sustained with concurrent rise in the economic welfare of human communities living in and around target areas.

Goals:
Creation of new protected areas in key areas adjacent to large and intact forests in China, Bhutan and Myanmar.

1. Eastern Arunachal Hayuliang Biosphere Reserve:
The creation of the 5,000 km² Hayuliang Biosphere Reserve in eastern Arunachal’s will occur first. This PA is contiguous with other protected areas in both China and Myanmar and abuts two of the states already established reserves. When protected the Biosphere Reserve will create an entirely contiguous 2 million hectare transboundary conservation complex- the largest in Asia- effectively linking the Eastern Himalaya/Indo Burma regions.

2. Western Arunachal Alaya Corridor Biosphere Reserve:
The 2,700 km² Alaya Corridor Biosphere Reserve runs parallel to the Bhutan border. This reserve is also contiguous with three protected areas in Bhutan.

3. Community Based Ecotourism:
Prior to the creation of these reserve, IAC has been involved in implementing community based ecotourism and other micro-enterprise initiatives which focus on local monitoring and enforcement of quality control measures to avoid pitfalls, such as elite capture and overbuilding, other areas of India: (Manali, Ladakh and Gangtok) continue to struggle with.

Due to Arunachal Pradesh’s scenic mountain splendor, ecotourism is a viable source of local income. At the village level, specifically near existing and potential protected areas, ecotourism in the form or trekking, wildlife tours, rafting, and mountaineering will provide part of the economic incentive to value and protect forests, rivers and wildlife as the platform upon which ecotourism and economic growth is based. 

Source: Jon Miceler