A three-day nature guide training course organised by the Uttarkashi division of the Forest department under Secure Himalaya Project concluded on Sunday at Barsu village adjacent to Dayara Bugyal. The course was organised in collaboration with the Titli Trust. The training course will be followed by periodic guided birdwatching trips for the participants for the next one year. After a monitoring phase of six months, the top five performing participants shall be given a prize of one binocular each.
A total of eighty bird species were sighted during the training course at Barsu. There were a total of 26 participants including 15 young men and women from six nearby villages, four forest rangers and field staff and five self-paid visitors. Notably, Keshar Singh, who is himself a nature guide and started a similar journey in Devalsari village seven years ago, was one of the three resource persons for the course. The course combined classroom sessions with field learnings.
According to the forest department, various major steps have been taken for the promotion of nature based tourism in the region. The Harsil-Gangotri region lacks nature guides, despite having a range of habitat types including sub-tropical forest, temperate forest, alpine meadows, high altitude wetlands; possessing rich biodiversity, and a wide range of lodges and home stays, and having a healthy stream of tourists. The training and grooming of nature guides who have knowledge of birds found in the area along with a general awareness of flora-fauna will help in covering this crucial gap. The recently opened heritage Gartanggali trail and tourism in Nelong-valley are proving to be major attractions for the visitors. Nearly two thousand domestic visitors have visited Gartanggali since it was opened in September.
The development of the snow leopard conservation center at Lanka near Bhaironghati has been initiated with landscaping, eco restoration and the development of the one and a half kilometre long cliff trail and the deodar trail. The snow leopard tours to Lamkhaga pass could not be launched last year due to Covid and are going to be launched this winter. “We are confident that as a result of these multiple initiatives, the Harshil-Gangotri region is soon going to emerge as a prominent winter tourism destination,” said principal chief conservator of forests, Rajiv Bhartari.