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Nature Stewardship Programme (NSP)

Overview and Objectives:         
We feel that the best way to convince the world that we are competent to care for nature sustainability and according to sound ecological principles, is

to demonstrate that we have made a sincere effort to evaluate traditional practices in the context of recent socio-economic changes and the availability of scientific information and research techniques, and
to formalize a revised set of management practices into a language and structure that is accessible to the international ecological community.
The system of Nature Stewardship Zones that is emerging from this exercise is not much different, either in principle or in detail, from the mental maps and unwritten conventions we have always used to imagine and care for the lands within our territory. What does emerge in the zones outlined below is a heightened concern for the preservation of remaining forests, a renewed emphasis on afforestation, a willingness to stop grazing those small pastures where livestock may be competing with wild ungulates for habitat, and a resolve to severely limit community members' already modest hunting practices. Shimshal's Nature Stewardship Programme reflects the conviction that our transhumant herding economy is complementary, not destructive, to the health of those wildlife populations environmentalists are most concerned to save. 

Impose complete ban on indigenous hunting
regulate grazing practices
conduct research on flora and fauna
protect core zone
organize linkages and cooperative efforts with other relevant organisations
create increasing awareness among Shimshalis of nature stewardship
arrange licenses for limited trophy hunting. Shimshal
 Conservation Management Zones 
Wilderness Zone: Places with little or no vegetation, generally above 6000m, and other areas covered by permanent snow or glaciers. We consider these the most sacred places. We have traditionally believed that by polluting wild areas (awesome, strong places) humans anger nature, causing glaciers to surge forward and other calamities. The community does not use these places, or visit them, except to take trekking and mountaineering expeditions. Management of this zone will therefore involve limiting the number of tourists, and taxing tourists who visit wilderness areas to pay for removal of garbage associated with trekking and climbing. 
Wildlife Core Zone: Core habitat areas for wildlife mainly between 4500 and 6000m, and especially breeding areas between 5500 and 6000m. The zone includes all remaining areas of natural forest. We perceive these as ideal places, home of the fairies and their livestock (ibex, blue sheep). Many wildlife core areas have names which suggest a link with fairies, and in Shimshal those people who succeed in returning unharmed from these fairy places are considered heroes. We traditionally believed that all wildlife belonged to the fairies, and must be treated respectfully: villagers were admonished only to visit these places with pure thoughts and purified bodies; not to visit wildlife core areas during calving time; to hunt moderately and respectfully, etc. Management under the SNT involves a complete ban on hunting, and the restriction of visitors to a limited number of serious wildlife watchers, and researchers who can help us determine wildlife numbers, migratory patterns, breeding and birthing patterns, etc.

Semi-Pasture Zone: Areas, mainly below 5000m, where livestock graze briefly in winter or summer on their way to the major pastures, or where yaks graze without herders. For most of the year this zone is used by wild animals. We have recently abandoned grazing in those few areas where we think there has been competition between wild animals and sheep and goats (not with yaks, which eat different plants than wildlife). These areas are being considered as possible sites for trophy hunting and wildlife-based tourism. The problem of competition has diminished recently, in any case, because we now keep most of our livestock in specially designated pastures near the village (Shimshal, Shegdi, lower Virjirab) during winter, when competition between livestock and wildlife was most serious. Our long-term goal is to shift semi-pasture zones into the wildlife core zone. 

Pasture Zone: All intensely-used productive pastures, mainly between 3000 and 4500m. These areas, and especially the large alpine pastures at Pamir, are important sources of Shimshali tradition and culture, and the privileged domain of women, who manage the pastures according to a set of traditional guidelines. Very little wildlife visits these areas, with the exception of wolves which prey upon sheep and goats. As Shimshal village becomes more developed the intensity of sheep and goat herding at high pastures is decreasing (although yak herding continues to intensify). The SNT management plan will focus on increasing the productivity of the main high pastures (plantations, irrigation, etc.) while maintaining the traditional management system, so that semi-pastures and less productive high pastures can gradually be abandoned for grazing, and incorporated into the wildlife core zone. We will also continue to improve the trails to the main pastures, and encourage culturally-sensitive tourism through staged events like yak-racing and yak polo. 
Semi-Agricultural Zone: Those areas, mainly between 3000 and 3500m, which currently combine pastures with tree plantations and/or agriculture (e.g., Molonguti, Dut, near Chinese border, Pamir area beyond Shimshal Pass, lower Ghujerav, Shegdi). The SNT has placed a high priority on developing these areas, especially to provide plantations and fodder for Shimshal, and as protected grazing areas for those animals (cattle, donkeys) which cannot survive at high altitudes. All of the areas designated semi-agricultural are being developed collectively, as areas of concentration for the Self-Help Village Development Programme. Our long-term goal is to incorporate semi-agricultural areas fully into the agricultural zone. 
 Agricultural Zone: Those areas below 3300m, mainly around Shimshal village, currently used intensely for growing crops, and some new agricultural lands being developed close to the Chinese border, near Shegdi, and in lower Ghujerav. Planning will continue to emphasis intense agricultural activity. That will involve increased attention to the placement of buildings within the agricultural area (including, perhaps, a move back to a cluster pattern rather than the current dispersed pattern of village settlement), house styles (including an initiative to remove down country style dwellings), the location of tree plantations within the village, and the development of more irrigation channels, fields and plantations near the river. 
 Commercial Zone: Not clearly demarcated at this stage. We are presently discussing where to locate hotels and shops, in anticipation of the completion of the road. Priorities for planning include the construction of hotels, guest houses, shops, and development of the community's mining potential, without disrupting the natural environment or Shimshali's traditional style of life.

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