Mountain Protection Award
20 October 2014, BERN, Switzerland: The 2014 UIAA Mountain Protection Award has been awarded to Pamir Horse Adventure, a Tajikstan-based community tour operator, for its conservation and tourism development initiatives in the Pamir Mountains.
The award was given today at the Kiku. International Mountain Summit by Dr. Carolina Adler, a member of the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission with representatives of sponsors Western University and Golden Rock in Brixen, Italy.
From left to right: Dr. Carolina Adler of the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission, Pamir Horse Travel representative Zhandiya Zoolshoeva, Elvin Mammadov of Western University and Alex Ploner of IMS (Photo:Stephan Adler for UIAA)
"This year's winner, Pamir Horse Travel, has shown how effective and meaningful consultation and involvement with local people can in fact be realised," said Dr. Adler. "They have enacted upon their will to not only improve their tourism offer in the mountain regions of Tajikistan, but also achieve a long lasting relationship with the local communities through the development of horse travel and tourism."
"This is a great way to not only showcase the local culture, but also sustainably align their operations with the values the locals hold dear, both economic and other more intrinsic cultural values," added Dr. Adler.
Community involvement and conservation efforts are key to business for Pamir Horse Adventure (Photo: Aslisho Qurboniev for UIAA)
Dr. Adler said the award committee was impressed by the operator’s commitment to improve the lives of mountain communities based on the traditional passion for horse riding. At the same the operator has taken extensive steps to be involved in the protection of the endangered snow leopard and its prey in the mountains north of Yashilkul Lake.
"Our guiding philosophy has been relying on the mountain communities to improve their livelihoods and make the mountains a better place to live, but also protect its biodiversity,” said Aslisho Qurboniev on behalf of Pamir Horse Adventure. "Our company was founded with this goal in mind in 2010. It focuses on tourism development, bringing together conservation and sustainable development.”
The people who work and run Pamir Horse Adventure are locals, and every year new community members are trained to lead and work in tours. Training seminars held in Bachor village have included the expertise of a horseback tourism specialist from France. Other workshops have been conducted by conservation specialists who have also trained local nature guards to patrol against poaching and do monitoring and surveying of mountain wildlife.
To involve as much as the community as possible, the operator organises home stays with local villages in Bachor and other area villages around, participating in daily activities including harvesting, milking of animals and the domestic cooking and cleaning.
About the UIAA Mountain Protection Award and the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission
The goal of the UIAA Mountain Protection Award aims is to promote an awareness of the need to promote responsible mountain tourism practices and reward outstanding initiatives from mountain stakeholders (associations and tourism agencies). It supports community-based tourism that simultaneously contributes to the conservation of ecosystems and sustainable livelihoods for local people. Projects submitted should involve environmental concerns and activities linked with energy efficiency, conservation initiatives, waste management, community activities and water conservation.
Projects that involve collaboration with and the support of local communities are of particular interest to the awards panel.
Since it was founded in 1969, the Mountain Protection Commission has worked to protect the mountains – one of the last natural, unspoilt and free spaces on earth. The goal is to ensure that the mountains will still be there to enjoy for future generations of mountaineers and mountain people.
The UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation was founded in 1932 and has a global presence on five continents with 80 member associations in 50 countries representing about 3 million people. The organization's mission is to promote the growth and protection of mountaineering and climbing worldwide, advance safe and ethical mountain practices and promote responsible access, culture and environmental protection.
The organization operates through the work of its commissions which make recommendations, set policy and advocate on behalf of the mountaineering community. The UIAA is recognized by the International Olympic Committee for mountaineering and climbing.