about-us
ABOUT US

KTK-BELT, INC. is a non-profit organization that is tax-exempt in the United States under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3). KTK-BELT, INC. was registered in the state of New York on August 7, 2014, and possesses the Employment Identification Number (EIN) 47-2166334. It maintains offices in New York and Nepal and complies with laws in both jurisdictions.

OUR MISSION

KTK-BELT’s mission is to catalyze new models of biodiversity conservation and environmental learning in eastern Nepal. It works with teachers, farmers, youth, and women to create a ‘Vertical University’ that will span from Koshi Tappu Wildlife Sanctuary (67 m.) to Kanchenjunga (8,586 m.), the third tallest peak in the world. The idea is to give a framework to local farmers to become ‘professors’ of the Vertical University, to share their indigenous knowledge while also physically conserving threatened species and landscapes.

OUR APPROACH

KTK-BELT works in concert with nonprofit cooperatives registered under the Nepal Company Act, which it helps establish and nurture, called ‘Learning Grounds.’ Each Learning Grounds, governed by a diverse local Board and monitored by the Social Welfare Council (SWC) of the Nepal Government, owns its own biodiversity-rich conservation land base, which it holds in perpetuity in order to prevent ecosystem fragmentation and deforestation. Youth Fellows and BELT Farmers, trained and supported by KTK-BELT staff, run and administer the Learning Grounds and build capacity across the 8,000-meter vertical gradient through peer-to-peer, upstream-downstream collaboration.

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THE VERTICAL UNIVERSITY PROJECT

The idea of the vertical university is actually quite simple. It is to create a sort of “living classroom” in the form of an 25,000 foot continuous vertical forest corridor stretching from Koshi Tappu (220 feet), Nepal’s largest aquatic bird sanctuary, to Mt. Kanchenjunga (28,169 feet), the world’s third tallest peak, as a vessel to teach and conserve the 6,600 flowering plant species, 800 bird species and 180 mammals that are found in eastern Nepal. In a mountainous country like Nepal, where there is exceptional biological, climatic, and cultural diversity from the tropical plains to the alpine Himalayas, conventional education paradigms where students sit in a stationary classroom, divorced from their surroundings, make little sense.

The “professors” of the vertical university may not have a Ph.D. and in fact may never have set foot in school, but as indigenous farmers, they possess intricate, intergenerational knowledge about local fauna and flora which is critical for Nepal’s youth to attain. The vertical university will deepen place-based skills in sustainable technology, craft, and medicinal plants, and seeks to conserve and activate local knowledge while also creating sustainable livelihood opportunities. It does this through establishing “learning grounds,” which are micro-conservation hubs — the “classrooms” of the university throughout different locations across the landscape.

“Our hope is that one day, a Nepali student could walk from Koshi Tappu to Kanchenjunga, across 118 different forest types, and learn from local farmers about the deep physical and biological diversity of the landscape through place-based education.”

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LEARNING GROUNDS PLOTS

8

BELT YOUTH FELLOWS

660

PLANT SPECIES IDENTIFIED

150

ACRES OF COMMUNITY LAND TRUST

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KEY PROJECT AREAS

BIODIVERSITY INVENTORY
CONSERVATION PLANNING AND DESIGN
INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE PORTAL
KEYSTONE SPECIES RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION
SPRINGS RESEARCH AND REVIVAL
AWARENESS AND EDUCATION PROGRAM
BELT CAMPUSES
BELT SCHOOLS PROGRAM
LEARNING GROUNDS DESIGN AND BUILD
PLACE-BASED OUTDOOR EDUCATION CURRICULUM DESIGN
PLANT TRAILS
BELT FARMERS
BELT FELLOWS
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