The populations consists of a rich cultural mosaic of Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and animists, all of whom have lived closely with nature for centuries. Many indigenous mountain communities continue to live in remote isolation, and their livelihoods and traditions depend on natural resources. Making conservation an integral part of their lives.
A significant proportion of the population lives well below the poverty line, subsisting on crop agriculture, livestock rearing and the use of non-timber products. Cash crops such as sugarcane, rice, wheat, pulses and vegetables are extensively cultivated, and firewood, fodder, and thatch grass are extracted from the forests.
WWF's Living Himalayas Initiative aims to focus on these areas where wealth and access to services and education are far lower than national averages.