Forests of the himalaya - a talk by Rajesh Thadani at the Sustainable Mountain Summit, Kohima

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Information about Forests of the himalaya - a talk by Rajesh Thadani at the Sustainable...

Published on October 3, 2013

Author: indiawaterportal



In this brief and to-the-point (10 precise points) talk, Rajesh Thadani presents the issues confronting Himalayan forests and the solutions that need to be implemented to preserve them and the communities that depend on them.

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

Thank you

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