Have you ever realized how the area nearby you has transformed in these ten-fifteen years? Can you still see the open space around your house, where you performed your childhood chores? Is there the public tap (usually the stone tap) which fetched much of the water demand of your family? Is the river where you used to play as a child, on the same stage? And, what about the forest nearby your locality; has it been dense or sparse these days?? These are few queries that are enough to reveal the present environmental status of the area we live. In any way, if you have observed the positive changes, for instance, an increase in greenery, and the water availability; then you are luckier one. However, if the case is reverse, then your future is in peril. Sadly, most of us fall into the latter category, which signifies the blatant need for conservation.

Thanks to the environmentalists, we have been able to conserve some of our natural assets; however, we still have miles to go. While talking about environmentalists, we remember a number of people like Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Jafar Shah, Nalinika Obeyesekere, Pianporn DeeDee’s, Dr. Chandra Gurung, Dr. Harkha Gurung, and much more; who devoted their life for the environment. In Nepal too, there have been many improvements in the government’s efforts, policies, and projects focusing on environment and in the course of time, many conservationists have dedicated themselves to nature. This list of conservationists cannot be fulfilled without mentioning those pure souls who lost their life in a tragic Helicopter crash. The helicopter crash, as well as the bicycle accident of Dr. Pralhad Yongan, has become a terrible loss in conservation. The world can ill-afford to lose such great calibers. Those concealed voices have been raised by youth environmentalists like Kumar Paudel. Mr. Paudel has a deep passion towards nature, curiosity about the natural processes, and dedication to finding solutions to the problems arrived in nature.

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Born in a remote village of Nepal i.e. Sindhupalchowk, Mr. Paudel set out to Kathmandu for his higher studies bypassing many hurdles and uncovering opportunities out of those challenges. The picture Paudel paints- litter free water sources, the dense forest around his village, the sound of wild leopards (which occasionally visited the village; even their cowshed)-could have come straight from any terrifying novel. I wonder if the realization of so fantastical a childhood dream has helped him stay connected to his youth sets us straight. Rather it is, the wild animals, the small mammals, the deliberately following river, the rural home in the village of Sindhupalchowk, in which he grew up; this is where he belongs, to “all his childhood memories, the trees he climbed as a child, the cliffs where he walked, the hardships; that has paved him towards his dream; he feels blessed in this way. While he is a follower of late conservationist Harka Gurung who wrote a book named “Nepal, From My Eyes’, and drafted conservation plans for Nepal; he equally credits his mother for teaching him to respect the nature. He says that his mother often said him to clean the water sources, pray the trees, and respect every life on this earth; which has unknowingly made him closer to nature. Today, while we youths find ourselves being stuck into a vortex of gloom by simple failures, Paudel is always ready to offer a reason for hope-a word that crops are time and again in the titles of his activism.

When he joined his bachelor’s in Environmental Science, there was the alarming rise of rhinos poaching in Nepal; highlighted in most of our newspapers. With aim saving this precious natural gifts, he joined Team for Nature and Wildlife (TNW) as a Green Volunteer in “Mission Rhino 2020”. Via this involvement, he co-founded and led National Youth Alliance for Rhino Conservation (NYARC); a big group of passionate conservation enthusiast youths who succeeded to draw the national attention on rhino conservation via series of rallies, roundtable, workshops, op-ed articles, and lobby with parliamentary committee. Their attempt was well acclaimed resulting in the perfect coordination of government, enforcement agencies, communities and hence marking the zero poaching year. He particularly, wrote more than 25 op-ed articles and letter to editors in national dailies, calling action to curb poaching and trade of rhino. For this contribution, he was featured on Republica Daily (in 2010) in “Young Stat” column on the topic of “to make a difference.” Furthermore, he received youth Achievement Award in the year 2012.

Likewise, via his active involvement in Greenhood Nepal, he has shown leadership and raised awareness to transform our belief. His initial focus- facilitated by the Greenhood Nepal; which he co-founded (and is President at present) almost half a decade earlier to support his dream has now grown up into a well acclaimed Non-Governmental Organization. It works with community people, youth, and green entrepreneur on projects, initiatives, and activities creating lasting change in the sector of wildlife, climate change, agriculture, disaster risk management and other green ideas. It has been conducting roundtable meetings, symposiums, and seminars with experts, mentoring the youth conservation camps. With the motive of communicating researchers to grassroots communities, the concept of Seedtofeed.org, Conservation School, Nature Walk and many has started as new programs of Greenhood Nepal. Furthermore, it works with transportation agencies, bus-truck drivers, and helpers to control wildlife parts transportation in Nepal-Tibet border region. It released a short film on the story of bus-truck drivers/helpers who are directly involved in transporting wildlife parts and released via Youtube on the occasion of World Environment Day 2016.

Similarly, he is working as an Environmentalist in Envacare Engineering Pvt. Ltd. where he has carried out over 10 Environmental Impact Assessments for development projects and 30+focus group discussions and several public hearings. Via this organization, he gives his inputs in installing the projects within the conservation areas and has mastered both the research and managerial aspect of the projects. Mr. Paudel is also a Researcher of Lancaster Environment Center. Besides this, he has served as a researcher at Green Institute, ForestAction Nepal. Moreover, his works are not just limited to the conservation. During the devastating earthquake of April 2015, he joined Mercy Corps as an Emergency Response District Coordinator and served the earthquake victims. He is regarded as an excellent motivator and a great team player, with the deepest dedication for his work.

Mr. Paudel, being one of the Rufford grantees, is actively involved in researches on poaching and trade of wildlife, which is a serious threat to the survival of many species via his project,” Monitoring Illegal Wildlife Trade and Strengthening Public Awareness in Araniko-Trail, Nepal-China Border Region.” Besides the Rufford Grant for Nature Conservation, he is awarded by Conoco Phillips Water and Biodiversity Stewardship Scholarship Award of Smithsonial-Mason School of Conservation, USA (February 2016); Youth Achievement Award of Rural Development Society, Nepal (2012); and Communicative Award (Short Film) of WaterAid Nepal (March, 2011). Innumerable of us have been inspired by such well-rounded intellectual, hardworking practitioner youth.

While his first international visit was Mumbai, India; he has participated in the various international conference; visiting 15-20 countries and almost all the accessible areas of Nepal. He frequently writes travelogues and articles as an environmental journalist in the reputed newspapers of Nepal. Till date, he has published 40+such articles and contributed in raising environmental awareness. Today, when he has visited several countries, he has witnessed many changes in conservation; joined hands in hands with like-minded youths. A capacity for seeing the bigger picture may go some way to explaining his success as a youth environmentalist. He pinpoints his transformation to those national and international seminars, where he presented his work in front of the renowned conservationists.

In future, Mr. Paudel aims to contribute to curbing the illegal wildlife trade and environmental destruction. He wishes to make a new generation of young conservation leaders in Nepal. He wants to answer those numerous questions about the natural resources conservation, which have inspired him throughout his life to contribute to nature. For a youth who is skeptic towards his/her future, he says them to question themselves, about the surrounding, about the government, about the world and decide where we want to be in future; what will our future be if just fold our arms? Most importantly, will our parent be proud of us this way?

To conclude, Mr. Paudel is immensely charismatic and visionary youth for environmental conservation, not only for this country but for the world. In the intervening years, his dedication towards the conservation has revolutionized the understanding of youths like us, inspiring to work with nature. He simply wants to help to make the world, a better place to live for all of us. He has a great heart that not just loves the people, but respects the nature and wild assets, that equally belong to this earth. He knows he has a lot to do and wishes people to remember him for his actions on conservation in days to come.

Best,

Reshu Bashyal

(Editor at Magazine of youth, GYG)