The Kargil Project

Nestled between India and Pakistan in the snowy Himalayas, the remote, cold desert of Kargil is one of the world’s most politically volatile regions. It entered popular consciousness as the site of the 1999 war between India and Pakistan and is invoked even today in sabre rattling contests between the two nations.

Few people know that Kargil is actually a model of diversity. Given its strategic location on the historic Silk Road, Shia, Sunni, Buddhist and Hindu communities have co-existed peacefully in Kargil for centuries.

And even fewer people know about Kargil’s biodiversity.

Kargil really is heaven on earth: majestic peaks, gushing rivers and fields of wildflowers meet the eye wherever one looks.

Here, one can find growing wild, roses, geraniums, tulips and so on. One can also find plants that contain valuable medicinal compounds, including Hippophae salicifolia, Podophyllum hexandrum, and Aconitum.

Unfortunately, a lack of knowledge and of systemic conservation efforts have led to environmental degradation, poverty and migration out of Kargil.

Believing that any successful conservation effort must involve local communities, in 2017, we began working with community leaders in Kargil to rectify this situation through a three-stage sustainable development project: the first stage is raising local awareness of the economic potential of these plants and the need for conservation, to be followed by a second stage where we set up linkages between leading research institutions and local farmers and, finally, a third stage where we begin commercial micro-cultivation/ ecological restoration efforts.

Given Kargil’s significance, our objective is to change Kargil from a symbol of internecine conflict to a symbol of what can be achieved when we put aside our differences and work together.  

To find out more about this project, please email [email protected]