High Asia

Contested Commons under Threat

The wider Himalayan Arc, consisting of mountain ranges that incorporate major mountain systems such as the Tien Shan, Pamir, Hindu Kush, Karakoram, Himalaya, and Kun Lun Shan Mountains, is ecologically a very diverse mountainous region with peaks and plateaux. Steep mountain slopes and deeply incised valleys, glaciated areas above the snow lines, deserts and steppes, forests, rangelands, and wetlands compose a region that offers limited space for mountain communities to settle in compact oases and vast areas for extensive forms of pastoral practices herding predominantly for 16 million yaks, and much higher numbers of sheep and goats. About 60% of the Hindukush-Himalayan surface is composed of rangelands and pastures.

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KKH: a wonder or woe for travellers?

The Karakoram Highway (KKH), often referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, stands as a testament to human ingenuity and an engineering marvel connecting Pakistan and China. The 1,300-km highway meanders through some of the world’s most stunning landscapes and cultures and mountain ranges, including the Karakoram, Himalayas, and Hindu Kush. The KKH offers travelers a unique and awe-inspiring journey through lush valleys, waterfalls, and picturesque villages.
However, travelers must also be prepared for the challenges it presents, including safety concerns, remote conditions, and infrastructural limitations. A trail of tragic accidents and the loss of hundreds of precious lives annually on the highway reveals a darker reality that must be addressed urgently.

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