The High Asia Habitat Fund was incorporated on 22 April 2020, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. The day prompted reflection throughout the world. How is the current pandemic related to climate change and the changes we’ve seen in the environment? How do the changes in the natural world affect human health and wellbeing? What can we do to tackle climate change and restore ecosystems in some of the most remote, vulnerable corners of the world?
We’ve been interested in this last question for some time. Through over a decade of working in South and Central Asia, we have had the privilege to travel the majestic mountains of High Asia. We’ve spent countless hours tracking and observing the snow leopard, the “ghost of the mountain,” and broken many, many pieces of bread in the warm kitchens of remote villages.
High Asia is a unique, diverse, and important ecosystem comprising:
- Over seven mountain ranges across 12 countries
- 8 countries are landlocked
- 56,000 glaciers and the largest store of permanent ice and permafrost outside of the Poles, making it known as the Third Pole
- Headwaters that supply fresh water to nearly ⅓ of the human population
- Over 10,000 species of plants, 900 species of birds, and 300 species of mammals in the Eastern Himalayas alone
It is also a vulnerable ecosystem that needs creative solutions. Bringing our work in the travel industry and the nonprofit sector together, alongside an incredible team of scientists, wildlife rangers, and local experts, we’re planning and implementing conservation-led solutions and development for the region.
We’ve known for a long time that ecosystems are becoming more unhealthy and that climate change is impacting the earth in innumerable ways. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that this can lead to devastating effects for humans worldwide. However, the pandemic has also mandated coordinated, quick innovation and shown the world that change is possible. We hope to harness this appetite for change and lead solutions that enable more just, healthier ecosystems in the high mountains of Asia.
We can’t wait to get started, and we hope you join us!
Caitlin & Behzad