Nepal Project: Habitat Conservation and Mountain Ecosystems

Meeting Location              Kathmandu, Nepal
 Program Dates        Fall 2017: September 22 - November 4, 2017
   Fall 2018: September 22 - November 4, 2018
 Accommodations    Primarily camping, occasional youth hostel or rural lodge
 Language    English instruction
 Courses    ESCI 437A, ESCI 437B, ESCI 437C
 Credits    15 quarter credits or 10 semester credits
 Prerequisites    One college level course of ecology or similar           
   18 years of age


            Nepal Program Costs, Fall 2017
 $  150      Application Fee
            $4150      Program Fee
            $2800      Estimated In-Country Group Fee
            $1600      Estimated Airfare/Visa
            $  650      Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending 
            $9350     Total Estimated Cost

            Fall 2017: Program fees due by August 1, 2017                

            Nepal Program Costs, Fall 2018
 $  150      Application Fee
            $5500      Program Fee
            $2900      Estimated In-Country Group Fee
            $1600      Estimated Airfare/Visa
            $  550      Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending 
            $10,700  Total Estimated Cost

            Fall 2018: Program fees due by August 1, 2018                

Nepal students snow 

Join us in Nepal, one of the most biologically diverse and geographically spectacular mountain regions in the world. Team members will learn firsthand about the ecology of the Nepal Himalaya, the environmental processes that shape these fantastic mountains, and the life-strategies of the people who live there. We will also focus on the conservation and management of varied organisms of the Himalaya and the soils they depend on, which are vulnerable to human activity. Although human settlement in the Himalaya is highly developed, it is a tenuous existence because the landscape is remote, steep, and watered by a powerful summer monsoon. And like so many places in the world, the Himalayan region is currently undergoing rapid social change which impacts the fragile ecological balance here.

Our Nepal field studies take place in multiple habitats that change drastically with elevation: near-tropical lowland forest; terraced agricultural slopes; cool mountain forests; and high alpine valleys next to active glaciers. Traveling mainly on foot and camping in the back country supported by porters assisting with gear transport and meals allows us the opportunity to directly observe ecological and environmental processes at a range of elevations. Throughout the program we will examine the biological, physical, and social processes that affect the Himalayan landscape.


After an orientation in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, we will begin our field studies in the near-tropical, forested floodplains of Chitwan National Park. These lush forests support populations of rare mammals like rhinoceros, sloth bears, Bengal tigers, langur monkeys, hundreds of species of birds, and two crocodile species. Here it is possible to see large wild mammals that have disappeared across much of their range, and study the challenges of wildlife management in one of the lesser developed regions of Asia.

Nepal team photoWe then travel into the Himalayan foothills and proceed on foot to the valleys of the High Himalaya. Our field site is the mountain region of far eastern Nepal, which includes Kangchenjunga Conservation Area and Makalu Barun National Park. The cultural landscape remains quite traditional here and the habitat diversity is exceptional, with deep valleys separated by some of the highest peaks in the world. Kangchenjunga exceeds 28,000 feet elevation and overlooks a wild landscape of active glaciers and steep river valleys. High elevations are alpine, but the river valleys are lush and subtropical. Our program will visit a wide range of climatic zones on the flanks of the Eastern Himalaya. In Eastern Nepal, we may have the chance to interact with local conservation groups, affording team members an opportunity to directly observe the field methods of those people best positioned to influence Himalayan conservation strategies. We will also conduct our own field studies and observations to gain skills and knowledge about the habitat, key behaviors, and conservation needs of the wildlife and wildlands of this area.

By the end of the project, each of us will have acquired field experience in rich, important wildlife habitat, developed an understanding of the ecology, behavior, and habitat needs of key wildlife species, learned a great deal about the geography of a spectacular mountain region, and gained practical experience with conservation management in Nepal’s dynamic, rapidly changing society.

PROJECT LEADER3 girls in nepal

Ph.D. in Biological Ecology, UC Davis, 1991
Chris is a conservation scientist who has conducted field studies and led natural history expeditions in Asia for over twenty years. His main academic focus is the ecology and geodynamics of mountain environments. He is also interested in the marine world, environmental control of species richness, and strategies for habitat conservation. He lives in Chiangmai, Thailand, and teaches part of the year at Payap University. Chris has been teaching with Wildlands Studies since 1990 and has taught in China, India, and Southeast Asia. He currently leads our Indian Himalaya, Thailand and Nepal Projects.