Posted on November 14th, 2010, by

November 14, 2010

The conference was hosted by Kagyu Nalanda Institute, Karma Rinpoche’s monastery.

It began with an update of current trends for biodiversity, and global environmental conditions. There was a short overview on previous environmental training including that of the earth’s biological cycle.

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The monasteries reported back on their past year activities, focusing on both successes and problems they encountered. Often, lessons learned by one monastery were useful to another during the cross-exchange of experiences.

As directed by His Holiness the Karmapa, all monasteries planted trees this year, even though several monasteries did not have much space in their area. Many monasteries said that to make up for this, they planted many more in the mountains where some of them have retreat centers or in their homeland.

The Tilokpur nunnery in Himachal Pradesh found another solution. Working with local communities, the nuns began planting trees on barren and deforested community owned lands nearby. Pullahari Monastery from Nepal, which has planted over 10,000 trees in the past decade, emphasized that it was equally important to take care of the trees after they were planted as planting them in the first place. 

Water

Mahey Gompa from Ladakh, which newly joined Khoryug, expressed a deep interest in working to protect the high altitude lakes and wetlands near them.

Wildlife

Kagyu Nalanda Monastery in South India, being close to the Western Ghats area, also planted trees so as to provide habitat for wild elephants. They are however concerned about increasing chances of conflict between the wild elephants and local communities when the elephants come to the area to eat the crops that the local farmers plant.

Waste Management

Several monasteries struggled with the problem of waste management. They noted that they themselves were very careful about segregating wastes but often the garbage pick-up people would simply burn everything including the plastics, which releases toxic fumes into the air. However, some monasteries have been able to reach out to local vendors so that some of the garbage can be reused. Vajra Vidya Institute in Varanasi, for example, reached out to local vendors to sell waste materials such as paper, bottles, and plastics. The income that this generates is put back into Khoryug activities and sometimes, used to buy a celebratory tea for the monastic Khoryug ecoclub, which keeps the entire compound clean. Similarly, other monasteries are also selling their recyclables to local vendors.  After Dilyak Monastery’s monthly cleaning excursions into the neighborhood, the community itself mobilized and hired a local cleaner to keep their area in Bouda clean.

Clean Energy

Several monasteries began solar projects this year. While some such as Rumtek Monastery, which created their own solar panels with some help from a visiting volunteer, were successful, others found that buying separate parts from different places and assembling it was too complicated. There will be some effort for cross-exchange between the monasteries in the future.

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The afternoon consisted of working together in groups to practice group project design so that Khoryug representatives can get expertise in developing community project concepts.