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Nepalese Government Concludes its Clean-up Drive on the Mount Everest with 11 Tonnes of Trash

Each expedition team has to deposit $4,000, which are refunded if each climber returns with the 8 kg of waste

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This photograph taken from a helicopter shows an aerial view of Mount Everest in Nepal's Solukhumbu district, some 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Kathmandu, on Nov. 22, 2018. VOA

The Nepalese government on Monday concluded its clean-up drive of the Mount Everest and said it had collected nearly 11 tonnes of trash that had piled up on the peak for decades.

The clean-up initiative, the first of its kind since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa conquered the summit 66 years ago, was launched in mid-April and involved an elite team of 12 high-altitude Sherpa climbers who spent over a month collecting the waste.

“Along with the rubbish, they also collected four dead bodies from the high camps of Mount Everest that were brought to Kathmandu last week,” Dandu Raj Ghimire, the Director-General of Nepal’s Tourism Department, told Efe news.

According to Ghimire, the clean-up campaign cost nearly 23 million rupees (some $207,000). He added that China had also launched a similar drive to clean the north side of the world’s highest mountain.

“There are big environmental concerns and criticism from the international community that Nepal has not shown seriousness to maintain the beauty of the iconic peak,” he added, while vowing that the government would continue to clear the human residues left on Mount Everest.

Ang Dorje Sherpa, the Chairman of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC), said around seven tonnes of waste had been collected from the Everest Base Camp and the high camps.

The other four tonnes were removed from the villages of Lukla and Namche Bazar, both of which are considered the gateway to Everest.

Hundreds of foreign mountaineers spend thousands of dollars to conquer the peak every spring season, which normally begins in early April and lasts until May. As they go on the dangerous climb, they leave behind a trail of litter.

FILE – Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, is seen in this aerial view March 25, 2008. VOA

Various stakeholders, including the Tourism Ministry, the Nepali Army, the Nepal Mountaineering Association, the Nepal Tourism Board, the Sagarmatha National Park, the SPCC and the local government have joined hands for this clean-up campaign.

In recent times, Everest has often earned the moniker of the world’s highest garbage dump.

Several tonnes of old equipment, oxygen cylinders, rubbish and human waste litter the famous mountain.

The government collects more than $3.55 million per year in revenue by issuing permits for climbers, but little had been spent so far to keep the ecosystem clean.

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In 2014, the government introduced a rule forcing each member of an expedition to bring back at least 8 kg of collected garbage, in addition to the trash they generate themselves.

Each expedition team has to deposit $4,000, which are refunded if each climber returns with the 8 kg of waste.

The deposit is refunded only if the SPCC certifies that they have taken all their trash back down. But many commercial expeditions still end up leaving trash scattered among the gelid snow. (IANS)

Next Story

NASA Satellite Reveals More Plants are Growing Around Everest

According to the researchers, snow falls and melts here seasonally, and they don't know what impact changing subnival vegetation will have on this aspect of the water cycle - which is vital because this region (known as 'Asia's water towers') feeds the ten largest rivers in Asia

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Mount Everest
FILE - Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, is seen in this aerial view March 25, 2008. VOA

Researchers have found that plant life is growing and expanding around Mount Everest and across the Himalayan region as the area continues to experience the consequences of global warming.

According to the study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, the research team from University of Exeter in UK, used satellite data to measure the extent of subnival vegetation – plants growing between the treeline and snowline – in this vast area.

Little is known about these remote, hard-to-reach ecosystems, made up of short-stature plants (predominantly grasses and shrubs) and seasonal snow, but the study revealed they cover between five and 15 times the area of permanent glaciers and snow.

Using data from 1993 to 2018 from NASA’s Landsat satellites, researchers measured small but significant increases in subnival vegetation cover across four height brackets from 4,150-6,000 metres above sea level.

“These large-scale studies using decades of satellite data are computationally intensive because the file sizes are huge. We can now do this relatively easily on the cloud by using Google Earth Engine, a new and powerful tool freely available to anyone, anywhere,” said study researcher Dominic Fawcett, who coded the image processing.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region extends across all or part of eight countries, from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. More than 1.4 billion people depend on water from catchments emanating here.

According to the study, results varied at different heights and locations, with the strongest trend in increased vegetation cover in the bracket 5,000-5,500m.

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Around Mount Everest, the team found a significant increase in vegetation in all four height brackets. Conditions at the top of this height range have generally been considered to be close to the limit of where plants can grow.

Though the study doesn’t examine the causes of the change, the findings are consistent with modelling that shows a decline in “temperature-limited areas” (where temperatures are too low for plants to grow) across the Himalayan region due to global warming.

Other research has suggested Himalayan ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climate-induced vegetation shifts.

“A lot of research has been done on ice melting in the Himalayan region, including a study that showed how the rate of ice loss doubled between 2000 and 2016,” said researcher Karen Anderson.

“It’s important to monitor and understand ice loss in major mountain systems, but subnival ecosystems cover a much larger area than permanent snow and ice and we know very little about them and how they moderate water supply,” Anderson added.

According to the researchers, snow falls and melts here seasonally, and they don’t know what impact changing subnival vegetation will have on this aspect of the water cycle – which is vital because this region (known as ‘Asia’s water towers’) feeds the ten largest rivers in Asia.

Researcher Anderson said “some really detailed fieldwork” and further validation of these findings is now required to understand how plants in this high-altitude zone interact with soil and snow. (IANS)