Forests of the Himalaya (Sustainable Mountain Summit, Kohima_Rajesh Thadan_2013

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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.

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  • Leopold an ecological ethic that replaced the earlier wilderness ethic that stressed the need for human dominance
  • Some of the bridges are over a hundred feet long and can support the weight of fifty or more people.  Ficuselastica produces secondary roots from higher up its trunk …War-Khasis, in Meghalaya, saw in its powerful roots an opportunity to easily cross the area's many rivers. Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems. The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they're allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time, a sturdy, living bridge is produced. The Cherrapunji receives around 15 metres of rain every year, a normal wooden bridge would quickly rot.
  • Forests of the Himalaya (Sustainable Mountain Summit, Kohima_Rajesh Thadan_2013

    1. 1. Forests of the Himalaya Current Scenario, Future Prospects Rajesh Thadani & Prof. S.P.Singh Indian Mountain Initiative, SMDS III Kohima, 26 September, 2013
    2. 2. 1. Forest Cover is Declining • Quality: Loss of dense forest (>40% canopy) Current Scenario
    3. 3. 1. Forest Cover is Declining • Quantity : Loss of Forest Cover for development, HEPs, urbanisation… Current Scenario
    4. 4. 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
    5. 5. 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
    6. 6. 6
    7. 7. 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!
    8. 8. 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
    9. 9. 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
    10. 10. 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
    11. 11. 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
    12. 12. Tree-root bridges of Meghalaya
    13. 13. 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.
    14. 14. 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
    15. 15. 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
    16. 16. Thank you

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