22 Mar, 2021
By: Project team
Have you ever come across the unique and diverse forests of India’s Western Himalayan region? One of the most distinctive regions of the country, the Western Himalayas are home to a wide range of forest types, ranging from tropical and subtropical to dry tropical evergreen and mountain moist deciduous forests.
Apart from being a timber source, the Himalayan forest ecosystems play a larger role in our survival. They provide a wide array of services that are critical for sustaining livelihoods, and also provide ecosystem services that enhance the supply of water that flows into streams and larger rivers. Despite such a wide variety of ecosystem services, our ecological knowledge for managing these services is still limited . It is important to identify our role in the conservation and sustainable management of these services. A paradigm shift is already visible in the forest developmental policies and procedures which focuses on forest ecosystem services (FES) and participatory forest management centric approach.
Forest dependent communities must understand their role in the use and valuation of ecosystem services so that these do not remain mere biophysical components. Women living in rural, or mountain areas have a special relationship with these forests and play a vital role in participatory forest management. Through their traditional knowledge and practical experiences, they know what trees species are best for meeting their demands of water, fuel, fodder etc. along with maintaining the biodiversity of the mountains.
The Indo-German 'Himachal Pradesh Forest Ecosystem Services' (HP-FES) project was one such initiative that aimed at integrating the FES approach into the forest management systems of Himachal Pradesh from 2016-2020. Integrating the lessons from HP-FES, a follow-up project on ‘Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystem Services in the Western Himalayas’ (HIMFES) will be implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC), Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand Forest Departments from 2021-2023. The project aims at strengthening the management of FES with emphasis on water availability in the Western Himalayas.
The project interventions will focus on three core areas:
As the global population continues to grow, human activities are increasingly affecting the availability of ecosystem services and although the benefits provided by many natural ecosystems widely recognised, they are still poorly understood and quantified. This project is a step towards recognising that the services that emanate from the forest ecosystems are critical to the functioning of our life-support system and human welfare.
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1 Kremen C. 2005. Managing ecosystem services: what do we need to know about ecology?
2 Negi, GCS and Agrawal, DK. 2006. Measuring and valuing ecosystem services: Himalayan mountain context
Waterfall in Shangarh, Himachal Pradesh ©GIZ/Aashima Negi
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