Professor of economics, conservationist and mountaineer Harshwanti Bisht was selected on 12 August 2013 to receive the Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal. The award is presented for remarkable service in the conservation of culture and nature in mountainous regions. The medal both recognizes Sir Edmund Hillary's own service on behalf of mountain people and their environment and also encourages the continuing emulation of his example. In 2003 the Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal was initiated by unanimous resolution of the Namche Conference: Parks, People and Mountain Tourism.
Harshwanti Bisht, Rekha Sharma and Chandra Prabha Aitwal were the first three women to summit the main peak of Nanda Devi (7816m) in 1981. Bisht was also a part of the Indian expedition to Mt. Everest, in 1984.
Since 1989, Dr. Harshwanti Bisht has worked hard to improve conditions in the Gangotri area of Uttarakhand, at the headwaters of the Ganges in northern India. Her Save Gangotri project has planted tens of thousands of saplings, organized eco-awareness campaigns, propagated endangered medicinal herbs, and introduced ecotourism standards to an area that had been ravaged by climate change and unregulated pilgrimage.
Bisht has had remarkable success in restoring the birch forests around Gau Mukh (Cow Snout), the terminal area of Gangotri Glacier, ravaged by the double-whammy of unmanaged pilgrimage and mass-market tourism as well as climatic change. As the forests take hold, they have an increasingly significant impact in increasing humidity and lowering local temperatures.
Who: Harshwanti Bisht
When: 12 August 2013