Swat project by Mountain Wilderness International
SWAT PROJECT BY MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS INTERNATIONAL
Project Status: Ongoing, July 2018-December 2019
Contact: Carlo Alberto Pinelli
Email – Facebook – Website
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of the project is to contribute to the preservation of mountains by training young locals of the Swat region with the aim of publishing a handbook on hiking trails and “light” ascents of local mountains. Project sustainability is ensured by the type of training given at the course (Environment Friendly Mountaineering and Trekking Course) and the active participation of trainees to the drafting of the guidebook. This guide will put the emphasis on the protection of mountains and respectful access to them and could pave the way to a study for the possible creation of a national park in the Swat Kohistan mountains. By spreading the guide in Pakistan and abroad, trainees after completing the course will more easily find a job as trekking guide and facilitator of light mountaineering expeditions. Proceeds from the sale of the guidebook will be reinvested in the study for the Park project.
RELATIONSHIP WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES
The project promotes new sustainable working opportunities for young people living in a rarely visited mountain environment. They will be trained as medium mountain and trekking guides, expeditions helpers, learning how to promote safe and responsible outdoor tourism in their valleys. The trainees of our course will not only offer visitors their services as reliable medium mountain and trekking guides, but will also become environment sentinels of their hilly territories. They will act as role models and this will bear fruit. When the handbook of the mountains of Upper Swat will be published (with the trainees help) it will bring a fresh wave of outdoor sports lovers in the region. The organizers of our project already met (September 2017) many local communities in upper Swat, receiving their enthusiastic agreement and support. By the end of June 2018 we will select a group of 24 trainees out of more than 50 applicants. The course will begin at the end of August 2018.
COLLABORATION WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES
We are collaborating at a regional level with the tourism section of the Khaiber- Pakthunkhwa Government, with some non profit and small trekking clubs in Swat, with the Pakistani chapter of Mountain Wilderness and with the Alpine (Mountaineering) federation of Pakistan.
BEYOND ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’
The project involves three steps, over a period of two/three years.
Step 1: Trainees of the first course will be selected in 2018 (max. 24 trainees, both men and women). The course will be organised, with base camps at high altitude in two different valleys of the Swat Kohistan region. The course content includes the basics on how to move safely on glaciers, snowy slopes and easy rock walls, knowledge of mountain morphology, geology and glaciology, considerations on biodiversity and respect of natural landscape, alternative and soft tourism models, basics of first aid and rescue techniques, trekking management, practical exercises for a detailed description of mountain trails, meaning of a natural park. At the end of the course, trainees will receive their certificate of participation, issued with the consent of the Pakistani Alpine Federation, allowing them to start a professional activity in the field of an outdoor tourism that is respectful of the integrity of mountains.
Step 2: In late spring 2019 the best trainees, divided into small groups led by tutors, will cover all mountain trails of the Upper Swat suitable for trekking and will describe in writing and pictures their features, qualities and difficulties. They will also describe the trails that lead to the base camps from which the ascent routes to the highest mountains of the region start. In addition, all written reports of the first ascents will be collected, while a professional cartographer will be on site both for educational purposes and in order to improve the quality of the existing cartography.
Step 3: Collected data will be processed and arranged and the guidebook will be published in English and Italian. Official presentation and distribution in Pakistan and in the international mountaineering community will be planned.
The project of the National Park of Swat Kohistan will be developed and submitted to the country’s competent authorities only later. All expenses needed to develop it fall outside the scope of this project.
Funding resources come from Ministero dei Beni Culturali e del Turismo- Italy, MIBACT; ISMEO ; Mountain Partnership – FAO; Alpine Clubs (CAI and Rome); private donors, Mountain Wilderness Intl. These resources will cover the expenses for the first step and the previous survey. Mountain Wilderness and ISMEO are already planning how to collect the resources for the second and third steps.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR VOLUNTEERS
The course and the following theoretical/practical steps as well as the publishing of the guidebook will all take place with the utmost respect for the meaning, the message and the real vocation of mountain areas. This is, after all, the heart of Mountain Wilderness’ mission. Experiencing mountains does not necessarily imply negative anthropization and deterioration. Building huts and support points at high altitude will be discouraged outside of already existing villages, as well as the use of helicopters and crawler vehicles for touristic purposes, along with building new and unneeded jeepable roads and cableway installations. Discouraging littering must be considered a priority. Any activity allowing tourists to grow in their knowledge, their experience and respectful love for mountains will be favoured. The trainees of our course will not only offer visitors their services as reliable medium mountain and trekking guides, but will also become environment sentinels of their hilly territories. They will act as role models and this will bear fruit.
HOW WE COMMUNICATE
We mainly trust in the positive effect of the final dissemination of our handbook which will be widely publicized on outdoor and mountaineering international magazines as well as in dedicated internet platforms. We have already had contact with journalists and magazines interested in publishing articles on our project. In Pakistan some TV channels are willing to broadcast our experience. In Europe the Italian Touring club will act as a resonance box. Moreover, we will utilize Mountain Wilderness International channels for the dissemination of the project informations: Facebook, website and printed paper for MW members.