This book describes the myriad components of the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region, which are sometimes described as the freshwater towers of South and Southeast Asia. Water originating from their snow, glaciers and rainfall feed the ten largest river systems in Asia. The contributors to this volume elaborate on challenges, failures, and successes in efforts to conserve the HKH, its indigenous plants and animals, and the watershed that runs from the very roof of the planet via world-rivers to marine estuaries, supporting a human population of some two billion people. Readers will learn how the landforms, animal species and humans of this globally fascinating region are connected, and understand why runoff from snow and ice in the world's tallest mountains is vital to inhabitants far downstream.
Hindu Kush-Himalaya Watersheds Downhill comprises forty-five chapters organized in five parts. The first section, Landscapes, introduces the mountainous watersheds of the HKH, its weather systems, forests, and the 18 major rivers whose headwaters are here. The second part explores concepts, cultures, and religions, including ethnobiology and indigenous regimes, two thousand years of religious tradition, and the history of scientific and research expeditions. Part three discusses policy, wildlife conservation management, habitat and biodiversity data, as well as the interaction of animals and humans. The fourth part examines the consequences of development and globalization, from hydrodams, to roads and railroads, to poaching and illegal wildlife trade. This section includes studies of animal species including river dolphins, woodpeckers and hornbills, langurs, snow leopards and more. The concluding section offers perspectives and templates for conservation, sustainability and stability in the HKH, including citizen-science projects and a future challenged by climate change, growing human population, and global conservation decay.
A large assemblage of field and landscape photos, combined with eye-witness accounts, presents a 50-year local and wider perspective on the HKH. Also included are advanced digital topics: data sharing, open access, metadata, web portal databases, geographic information systems (GIS) software and machine learning, and data mining concepts all relevant to a modern scientific understanding and sustainable management of the Hindu Kush-Himalaya region.
Hindu Kush-Himalaya Watersheds Downhill is written for scholars, landscape ecologists, naturalists and researchers alike, and it can be especially well-suited for those readers who want to learn in a more holistic fashion about the latest conservation issues.