Conservation of the Himalayan biodiversity and Securing livelihoods by Biodiversity Tourism and Community Advancement (BTCA) in Kullu


Biodiversity Tourism and Community Advancement (BTCA) is a women's society that works along with the Forest Department in managing the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in the Trans- Himalayan region of Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh, to enhance natural resource-based livelihood opportunities for the local communities. The GHNP is home to several rare, endangered and threatened (RET) species with 832 species of flora and 386 species of fauna. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the ‘Natural’ category in 2014. Constituted in the year 198 and spread across an area of 754, it was formally declared a national park in 1999. The forests in the protected area provides myriad of ecosystem services including carbon storage, nutrient cycling, water and air purification and a safe habitat for the wildlife. In 1994, a buffer zone covering 265.6 was created around the park’s western boundary, comprising 160 villages with 2300 households which depended on the natural resources of the park for medicinal plants and grazing their livestock. Access to these resources were curtailed with the declaration of the protected area.

Conservation Initiatives and Impacts

The GHNP administration, then commenced a co-management initiative, by organising 950 women from households that were directly dependent on the park, into 95 small Women’s Savings and Credit Groups (WSGCs). These were mostly homogenous groups of women with similar socio-economic background. These WSCGs have been federated into an NGO called Biodiversity Tourism and Community Advancement (BTCA). BTCA is the umbrella organisation which facilitates Income Generation Activities in WSCGs through apricot oil production, medicinal plant propagation, ecotourism, local handicrafts and organic farming, which fetch an approximate annual income of US$ 21,023. The park management has played an active role in capacity building of the WSCGs and providing avenues for generating livelihood. The Park nurseries in the eco-zone, purchase vermin-compost produced by WSCGs and the group members are provided preference for employment in nurseries. A training and tourist centre has been set up to provide training in tourism related skills such as book-keeping, communication skills and leadership. This Community Based Ecotourism was initiated to engage the male members of WSCG families. Awareness campaigns regarding conservation of natural resources are conducted frequently through theatre performances, by engaging WSCG members. The protected area hosts several ‘Dev Vans’, or sacred groves and temples and the communities still worship and carry out their traditional festivities without any interference from the Park authorities. Most of their folklores are in celebration of the beauty of the Western Tragopan, a pheasant which is considered to be the king of birds by the communities. The initiatives have reduced dependence on the park resources. An evaluation of effectiveness of the livelihood generation programme by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 2007 and 2013 indicate a significant rise in the Himalayan Monal, Koklass pheasant and Western tragopan population. Since livestock grazing and NTFP collection was banned in GHNP, sightings of herbivores such as ghoral, Himalayan tahr, musk deer and blue sheep have also increased. The higher density of species such as Jurinea macrocephala in Guntarao and Dhel meadows, Dactylorhiza hatagirea in Guntarao and Parkachi meadows, and Aconitum violaceum, Saussurea obvallata, Rhododendron anthopogon and R. lepidotum are positive indicators of reduction of herb collection and grazing. The park scored a satisfactory 76.5% on the management effectiveness evaluation score card of the IUCN-WCPA Framework.

Recognition in India Biodiversity Awards

Biodiversity Tourism and Community Advancement (BTCA) received special mention in the India Biodiversity Awards under the category ‘Co-management’ in 2014.

Contact - Gopal Krishnan Tel. +91 9418282148 Email: