On a wall in the remote village of Pangling, in Mustang Nepal, I found a local map denoting ‘Land Cover Changed 1999-2010’. The speed and extent of this change is incredible and everybody here in Mustang knows it.
The tree line and the snow line are retreating fast. ‘Walls’ of wood are stacked on every rooftop. Families and entire communities are relocating due to the increased distances to water sources. The slopes and surfaces of the landscape are eroding, barren and dry. Scree slides down the mountain sides, clouds of dust are carried in the wind and villages at the base of slopes have been buried. The rains of the monsoon are more extreme and erratic, damage and landslides more common.
As I walked up the sides of the Thorong Khola from Kagbeni to Jharkot to Muktinath, this is the landscape that I saw.