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China, Nepal, India, Bhutan to Conduct Joint Expedition Across Himalayas

Scientists from China, Nepal, India and Bhutan will start a one-month joint expedition traversing the Himalayas in the middle of October, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).


The expedition team, led by senior engineer Tao Baoxiang of the CAS, will comprise 13 scientists from China and one from each of Nepal, India and Bhutan.


It aims to compare, for the first time, different landscapes, climates, animals and plants as well as social cultures between the north and south slopes of Himalaya mountains, said Zhang Wenjing, the team's chief scientist.


For many years, the sheer height of the Himalayas has restricted researchers and scientists. But human activities have also hindered cooperation between related countries and regions in this field, Zhang said.


Over the last five decades, China has carried out a lot of scientific research, some with assistance from European countries, the United States and Japan, on the north slopes of Himalayas but there has been little work done on the southern side, he noted.

"We will also study the successful experience of south Asian people in developing mountain resources and protecting nature," he added.


Guo Huadong, deputy secretary-general of CAS, said that the team will climb from 300 meters above sea level in the Ganges River valley to more than 6,000 meters at the protection zone of Mount Qomolangma, known in the west as Mount Everest.


Gabriel Campbell, president of the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), has written a letter of congratulation to the expedition team, saying that it is an imperative task to grasp the environmental changes in the Himalayas, which have directly or indirectly influenced the economic and social development of half of the population of China, South Asia and Southeast Asia.


(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2006)


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