Today we went on a long hike that passed through the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve. In our discussion of geology and geography along the way, we were able to draw relationships between ecology and health in the Himalayas. Specifically, we discussed the concept that forests are protected by the government to the point that even if you “own” or live on that plot of land, you are prohibited from cutting down or planting trees. The forests are protected as a way to ensure that it is unchanged by humans which is necessary during this time in which the environment seems to be under increasing threat due to degradation by human actions. However, this creates a problem in that there is little place for people to move when things such as natural disasters occur, displacing those people. This serves as a double-edged sword in that although we want to keep the biodiversity, health, and nourishment of the land, people also need places to turn that support their own health. By protecting the forests, human health becomes more difficult to obtain because they are pushed into already highly populated towns and cities. In urban areas, health issues are more common such of lack of sanitation, increased infectious disease, high amounts of pollution, and increased poverty. These factors lead to increased rates of disease, especially those that are chronic and difficult to cope with throughout life. There needs to be a way to protect both the land and humans living on those lands.
Additionally, during this hike we visited the water supply of the area. Having a water supply in the mountains proves that proper utilization of geography can allow cost-effective and efficient delivery of safe water from water sources throughout the mountain range into villages. In this way, the geographic features of the land dictates how water is delivered to people. In addition, an important part of living in this area is ensuring that water sources are clean and adequate for use. Sanitation of water sources, especially when used by visitors from outside of India, must be mindfully considered and monitored. Mountains and its glacial peaks are major sources of water for much of India, so water delivery systems such as the one we saw must be of major priority, especially with the encroaching threats of global warming that will disrupt the swift delivery of safe water to people.