Natural disasters wake up call, says guardian monk of Himalayas 

Kathmandu: Natural disasters such as the Nepal earthquake in April “are a wake up call” and present an opportunity to reverse the occurrence of such events in the future, said a Buddhist leader, also known as the ‘Guardian of the Himalayas’, on World Environment Day which is celebrated on Friday.

“Disasters such as the recent earthquake in Nepal and the cloudburst in the Himalayas (Leh in Jammu and Kashmir) in 2010 are due to humans’ increased interferences in nature,” Buddhist leader and an active environmentalist, Gyalwang Drukpa told this IANS correspondent, who was recently in the quake-ravaged Himalayan state.

“Natural disasters are a wake-up call. If we understand this, we also realise that we have a genuine opportunity here to reverse some of these disasters before they happen again,” he said.

The spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas, who is associated with the Earth Awards Selection Committee that recognises viable innovations that improve the quality of life, said that after the rehabilitation of people in Nepal, the focus would be on environmental preservation and education.

The damage to both life and property could be minimised had there been more trees, he said.

“The trees save lives by preventing and slowing down mudslides and avalanches. They slow global climate change. We can shift towards environment-friendly technologies. In doing this, we can have a respectful relationship with our Earth and it will last us many more generations to come.”

The Druk Amitabha Mountain nunnery here, established by the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa in 1988, was also damaged in the devastating quake on April 25 and a series of aftershocks.

Just two months after the flash floods that devastated the Leh region in 2010, the Drukpa Order with around 9,000 people planted 50,033 willow saplings in 33 minutes and 25 seconds over a 1.12 lakh sq yard area near the famed Hemis Monastery in Ladakh.

Two years later, he led 9,814 people in planting 99,033 trees in less than one hour.

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