The Eastern Himalayas ecoregion is densely populated. Bhutan
has a population of around 800,000, Nepal
has a population of around 30 million and Northeast India
has a population of around 40 million. All of which are expanding rapidly.
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.