Significant Achievements of the Pendeba Program in Qomolangma National Nature Preserve

Awarded one of the “World’s 50 Best Projects of Sustainable Development” by the United Nations in 1998, the Pendeba Program in Qomolangma National Nature Preserve is a forerunner in combining environmental protection with local economic development.

Qomolangma Nature Preserve was elevated to a National Nature Preserve in 1994. The preserve covered 33 thousand square kilometers and 4200 meters in height with a 89 thousand agricultural population. According to preliminary statistics, as one of the most bio-diverse preserves, the Preserve is home to more than 2300 species of higher plants and 270 species of animals including 33 National Key Protected Species. It is in this area that the Pendeba program was initiated.

Pendeba, or “ worker who benefits the village”, consists of three Tibetan charactors:”Pan”, meaning benefit for the community, families and natural resoureces (including wildlife), “De”, indicating health and inspiration, and “Ba”, referring to the Pendeba staff.

The program mainly aims at blazing a new rail for conciliating protection and development. By developing the local economy and preserving the ecology at the same time, it strives to enhance living conditions for local Tibetans. It also depends on local people to protect the environment by letting them participate in the management of the Preserve.

In order to realize its goal, the Pendeba program has adopted the structure of top-down approach of guiding and supporting by the local government, the outside-in approach of training and aiding by experts and the bottom-up approach of acting and changing by the local community. Already proven effective, this management model has been promoted in other National Preserves in Tibet. Now, up to over 1000 Pendebas are working in various local villages.

According to Mr. Lei Guangchun, Director of School of National Preserves in Beijing Forestry University, the local communities have established a good co-management relationship with the management department of the Preserve. With the joint effort, 80% of the villages in the Preserve are now covered by basic health medical insurance, the mortality rate of children has decreased by 50% and the artificial immunization rate has gone up to 90%. At the same time, the number of engendered wild animals has increased, including snow leopards, Tibetan antelopes, red gorals and argalis due to the ban on hunting wildlife inside the Preserve. Also, schools have been built in most of the villages in the Preserve and as many as 500 000 trees have been planted in the area.