myclimate analyses the environmental impact of ecotourism for the "Madi Eco-Village" in Nepal

It isn't just flights and car journeys that myclimate calculates, for example, it also looks at the environmental impacts of sustainable tourism. In an analysis of the "Madi Eco-Village" project, supported by the Swiss government, myclimate emphasises the importance of the clean reuse of materials used in the project such as batteries and solar panels. The goal of the model project is to shape the increasing tourism to the area surrounding Chitwan National Park in the south of Nepal as sustainably as possible.

In addition to its regional charm, the very rural Madi valley near the Indian border also offers wildlife such as rhinos, tigers, elephants and bears. The 37,000 or so inhabitants of the valley make their living exclusively from farming or fishing. In each of the four villages within the Madi valley selected for project, there are between 200 and 600 inhabitants.

 

Self-sustaining, clean and community-based ecotourism

In the next few years, the increasing number of tourists to "Madi Eco-Village" will be accommodated in homestays, a type of simple guest house. The goal is to have local groups of women to manage these homestays. The financial income should strengthen the village economy (e.g. through small funds to support medical or schooling needs). The buildings are to be built with local, environmentally sustainable and durable materials. With their natural, non-toxic properties and cosiness, the traditionally constructed clay-coated houses should generate additional value. Individual modern elements will ensure that western tourists also feel at home and find the necessary level of comfort.

 

Solar panels and the question of disposal

The homestays will be equipped with solar micro grids, thus with a decentralised solar power supply, separate from the national grid. The rest of the electricity that is generated will supply neighbouring houses with energy and/or operate the irrigation system for local agriculture. myclimate has analysed the potential environmental impact of these solar micro grids with a special focus on the disposal/recycling phase of their technical components. As such, the report highlights, for example, that stringent efforts must be made to ensure that solar panel and batteries are not dumped and are certainly not burned at the end of their useful lives; rather the materials used in the project must be recycled as cleanly as possible or reused elsewhere. All other end-of-life methods (landfill, incinerators, burning on an open fire) are unacceptable solutions. All parties involved in the project in addition to the village inhabitants should be made aware of this through information and awareness initiatives.

 

Lifecycle assessment of the waste system

In addition to the lifecycle of the solar micro grids, myclimate also assessed the lifecycle of the general waste system. As an example, the burning of plastic packaging, PET bottles and disused electronic equipment on an open fire in front of the houses should be avoided. The evaluation of the different categories of waste material showed which methods of disposal or recycling provided the greatest benefit to the environment and/or were least environmentally detrimental. Naturally, the results must be viewed in the larger context. Factors such as logistics, waste volumes, collection points, refuse collectors, financing, volunteer work and the perspective of public authorities and others will ultimately determine the waste management approach, in addition to the purely ecological analysis.

 

REPIC project with local and Swiss partners

This project is carried out by myclimate on behalf of REPIC. REPIC is an interdepartmental platform of the federal offices SECO, SDC, FOEN and SFOE, the goal of which is to promote renewable energies and the efficiency of the use of energy and resources in developing countries and transition economies. In a project supported by the Swiss government, connecting spaces from Hilterfingen, Elite Enterprises Nepal (EEN) from Chitwan and Sustainable Mountain Architecture (SMA) from Kathmandu have come together with myclimate to shape the increasing tourism to the area surrounding Chitwan National Park in the south of Nepal as sustainably as possible. An expert from Innorecycling AG, Switzerland is overseeing the waste management procedures, a similarly important challenge in the holistic approach of this project. The homestays should be ready for use by spring 2020 (if interested please contact: connect@monikaschaffner.biz)

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