Published on October 3, 2013
Forests of the Himalaya Current Scenario, Future Prospects Rajesh Thadani & Prof. S.P.Singh Indian Mountain Initiative, SMDS III Kohima, 26 September, 2013
1. Forest Cover is Declining • Quality: Loss of dense forest (>40% canopy) Current Scenario
1. Forest Cover is Declining • Quantity : Loss of Forest Cover for development, HEPs, urbanisation… Current Scenario
Despite differences in physical and cultural traits, Himalayan forests have many similar issues • Chronic disturbance • Weakened community institutions • Developmental pressures (HEP, roads) • Fragmentation - hindering migration and climate change mitigation responses. Current Scenario 2. Similar narratives across the E-W arc
3. Recognition of Ecosystem Services • Flood dampening effects of forests, the ability of forests to store Carbon. • Some progress in monitising these ES • However, benefits from CDM and REDD have proved elusive. Current Scenario
What should we be doing? “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold: A Sand County Almanac Think Different!
4. Forests are part of a varied landscape • Acknowledge and factor in the impact of Agricultural & Cultural landscapes. • Legislation to protect forests is not enough • Planting of seedlings is not enough • To protect forests and the diversity within, we need to empathise with real world needs - of local communities and beyond Moving ahead
5. Get Data • The Himalaya has been referred to as a ‘white spot’ in IPCC reports due to the lack of data. • Where data exists, it is often not reliable • Climate change models often use data from analogous forests. • To get CDM, REDD credits or PES • In climate change negotiations and to prove their importance Build institutional capacity to get data Moving ahead
6. Not seeing the Forest for the Trees • Ecosystem structure and function, and ecosystem services matter more than individual trees. • Degradation may not be just at the canopy level: – Litter removal impacts ecosystem functioning – Trophic degradation: loss of fauna, invasive species Moving ahead
7. ..and ‘Think Like a Forest’ • Work with nature rather than opposing nature. Forests are not agricultural lands. – Do we always need nursery grown seedlings? Natural regeneration or direct seeding often works better and cheaper. – If Jhum is to be replaced, are terraced fields the only alternative? Analog forestry where ecosystem functions are mimicked but crop plants are grown could be promoted Moving ahead
Tree-root bridges of Meghalaya
8. Reduce pressure on forests • Alternatives to biomass products • Clean energy from HEPs Moving ahead These would help reduce black carbon, improve health indicators and reduce women's drudgery.
9. Modernise Community Forests • Attention largely to be forest protection. • Monitoring Biodiversity or Carbon in ways that can be valorised; REDD benefits should flow to local communities; Enhanced NTFP management • Prevent migration from remote areas Moving ahead
10. Increase Awareness • Collate information into policy papers and easy to comprehend forms. Move beyond technical and academic reports. • Engage with Multiple Stakeholders • Forests of Himalaya are unique and of international importance. Moving ahead
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