The Project

Green Himalayas

Green Himalayas: Hope In Ladakh

Even as Ladakh is beset with a plethora of ecological and social challenges, there is Hope! It lies at 15,000 feet in Ladakh, in the far reaches of Phobrang and its nearby villages of Lukung and Yourgo, which are on the snowline of climate change.

A grassroots movement, pun intended, is gathering force and the game is afoot! Over the next few years, the Phobrang region will make its place on the map: as a global leader in managing climate change and taking back control.

'Bonding' networks of locals, indigenous communities and Ladakhis across ethnic and religious lines are creating a common sense of purpose and overcoming social and ethnic differences to make an impact on the environment. 1 million trees were planted across Ladakh, which now hold the potential to become 1 billion across the Himalayas.

'Bridging' networks are bringing people from different groups, with different skills, resources and ideas across the world together to help conceive and execute the project at Phobrang.
HH Chetsang Rinpoche is now building on the success and credibility of Bonding to create a larger Bridge to sustainable climate change management.

Since inception, most of was focused on tree plantations at lower altitudes in Ladakh. Volunteer villagers, inspired by HH Chetsang Rinpoche and armed with rudimentary tools, would donate of their time and freely, to plant on desert land.

Over the years, Go Green had planted close to 1 million trees across Ladakh. After successfully amplifying community voices and harnessing the power of networks to start greening Ladakh, HH Chetsang Rinpoche and his council it wasn't enough to target and deliver isolated success.

Go Green wanted to transition from a local paternal movement to global participation and impact. But how?

Go Green saw in Goldenmile Learning a committed partner with a shared vision for Ladakh. Goldenmile Learning was already established in Ladakh, focusing on digital education for under-privileged and remote schools and communities over the last 5 years, covering 32 schools and impacting over 7000 students.

Go Green and Goldenmile Learning decided to put their heads and hearts together to solve a paradox unique to ecological degradation in the Himalayas. And, Green Himalayas was born.

The paradox: Climate change triggers glacial melting at high altitudes. The tide needs to be stemmed at the source. Yet, nothing substantial can grow above 12,000 feet in the Himalayas. It is too cold, the air is too thin and there isn't enough water. Getting people and materials up there isn't easy, and even if those challenges are surmounted, there is the harsh winter, ready to decimate anything that survives the summer.

Could Green Himalayas arrest glacial melting at its source?

Could they do the unthinkable and plant trees at that height? Would they survive? If they did, it would be a validation of the impact of climate change on mountain systems. It would be a breakthrough in confirming the problem and providing answers, not just to Ladakh, but to the whole of the Himalayas.

As Green Himalayas mulled the possibility and searched for a site to start something, the potential location had been hiding in plain sight. Phobrang had everything that was needed: ample land, melting glaciers (and therefore water), villagers in trouble (but with labour to bring and the motivation to offer it, and if all went well, benefits to reap).

Drawing from the experience at lower altitudes, a plan was drawn up to plant trees on a barren tract of land at Phobrang. The village council at Phobrang backed it and, along with the village communities of nearby Lukung and Yourgo, provided the labour to kickstart the project. In April 2015, 25,000 saplings were planted at Phobrang.

Miraculously, a major proportion of the 25,000 saplings have survived and grown to about 2 feet. What appeared a mad dream just 4 years ago is now looking distinctly sane! With proof of concept established, Green Himalayas is moving on to the next stage – 1 billion trees across the Himalayas and a full-fledged sustainability project at Phobrang.

The resources needed to realise this dream cannot be underestimated. But as the team at Green Himalayas has demonstrated – there's a method in the madness!

“From this moment on, knowing what is happening to the planet, to what do I devote my life?”

Namgyal Durbuk

Co-Founder, Go Green Go Organic

All the drawings illustrations and 3D rendering are artistic representations of the actual site.


Phobrang: A Project for the Planet

The Phobrang project is looking climate change in the face and acting on it. Green Himalayas, and the communities it works with, feel privileged to be part of something that is bigger than themselves. The project aims to show that:

  • Inspired and empowered local action supported by persistent global support can change the way we deal with climate change.
  • Climate change and related issues can be managed sustainably in the most hostile terrains that suffer severe weather conditions and have almost no infrastructure.

Green Himalayas @ Phobrang hopes to inspire individuals and local communities as well as global organizations to take action across the Himalayas and beyond. Each one of us can make a difference!

Green Himalayas @ Phobrang: A Sustainable Development Model

'A Billion Trees across the Himalayas' is the vision of Green Himalayas. The Phobrang project aims to build a sustainable development model for all Himalayan villages, a village-urban citizen level partnership where the villagers take ownership of our collective Himalayan ecosystem with the support and commitment of city dwellers across the world.

The Phobrang project is a pilot that will establish the viability for creating self-sustaining eco-systems above 12,000 ft. through smart greening, green building, renewable water and energy, co-operative governance, and permaculture principles. Where people, flora and fauna are in harmony with the earth and Ladakh's history, materials, colours, design and materials.

The model integrates holistic education, management and remunerative employment. The project begun with a pilot in Phobrang, Lukung and villages, near the famous Pangong Tso lake at 15,000 feet in the Himalayas in Ladakh, around 40 km from the border to China.

The Phobrang project stems from the very core of sustainable and equitable development for the remote communities battling with multiple challenges including lack of opportunities. It builds a model of development that is environmentally, socially and economically viable while the Himalayan ecosystem and remote village lifestyles are inevitable to change - both ecologically and socially.

Miyawaki Forest Plantation

An attempt to introduce the Miyawaki technique of forestation is part of the plan at Phobrang. The aim is to do this using less of conventional power and bringing in solar power wherever possible. 500,000 trees will be planted on the site to provide a forest green cover as part of the 1 Billion trees vision.

The Miyawaki method of afforestation / planting trees involves planting a number of different types of trees close together in a small pit. Planting many random trees close together in a small area enriches the green cover and re-inforces the richness of the land.

This will lead to co-existence of plants where each plant draws vital nutrients from the other, and, together, they grow to become strong and healthy.

Circular Economy

The Phobrang project embodies the core Ladakhi principle of Circular Economy thinking as opposed to conventional Linear Economy thinking. The Circular Economy is a 'closed loop' approach is inspired by living systems. It encompasses the following elements:

  • Extend the life of materials and products over multiple use cycles
  • Recover materials with waste – food view
  • Materials returned to the earth are non-toxic
  • Natural energy sources
  • Re-generate nature and living systems

Once proven, Green Himalayas aims to adapt and scale the Phobrang project across the Himalayas and, perhaps, the rest of the planet!

Our Model

“I find my deepest conviction and connection to the Earth by communing with the mountains. I have lived amongst them all my life. Today I know in my bones that my job is to learn to listen to them ever more deeply, and to share what they are telling us with those who are also listening.”

Lama Konchok Gyaltson

Buddhist Monk, Teacher, Activist

Project Phases

The Phobrang Project in a Nutshell

Roping in experts from development, environment and sustainability, the Phobrang project will create a model site/village that is centered around generating economic avenues for youth, women and larger communities that is sustainable in the long term.

This mode of alternative development will promote green architecture honed with local traditional knowledge and technology to cater to tourism or other economic prospects and promote dynamic local market opportunities.

The project is being implemented in 4 phases, and, we are off and running!

Phase 2

From Proof of Concept to Social & Economic Expansion

  • Creating 300 sustainable jobs / businesses to slow down migration.
  • Agri and marketing skills development for 100+ women and youth.
  • Expansion of water conservation and artificial lakes.
  • Afforestation with 100,000 trees.

Phase 3

Scaling Up

  • Creating 30,000 jobs / businesses across Himalayan communities
  • Agri and marketing skills development for 10,000+ women and youth
  • Scaling up water conservation and distribution from glacier melt
  • Planting 1 Billion trees
  • 50 species of Amchi medicinal plants

Phase 4


  • Creating 30,000X sustainable livelihoods across the world
  • 10,000X women and youth skilled and empowered
  • $1 million/annum from sustainable global supply chain
  • 10,00,000X cubic km/annum clean water powering re-generated rivers and lakes
  • 50 species of Amchi medicinal plants and practices become mainstream
All the drawings illustrations and 3D rendering are artistic representations of the actual site.