Institutionalising Long Term Ecological Monitoring System in the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department

17 Sep, 2019

The Himachal Pradesh Forest Ecosystem Services (HP-FES) Project planned to establish a simple and continuous Long Term Ecological Monitoring (LTEM) system for the state of Himachal Pradesh. The aim of implementing an LTEM system is “To understand the dynamics of forest ecosystem for developing appropriate management strategies to ensure sustained flow of ecosystem services for society”. The aim was jointly concurred with the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department (HPFD) during a workshop held on 20th April 2017. Following this, an LTEM framework was prepared and agreed upon with HPFD. In order to sustain LTEM, HPFD has institutionalised the system with the working plan division.

A five-day training (9th-13th Sept 2019) was organised for the front-line staff (who will collect the baseline data) of the HPFD at Forest Training Institute (FTI) Chail, Himachal Pradesh. The training was conducted by the HP-FES Project to build capacities of the front-line staff to understand the concept of LTEM and collect relevant data.

Eighteen participants including forest guards, beat officers and deputy rangers from different forest divisions of the Forest Department participated in the training. The participants experienced a balanced approach between classroom training sessions aligned with field training. During the last two days of the training participants collected data from forest sites based on the class room learning objectives. The Solan Forest Division was selected for piloting the LTEM system. As a next step after the training, forest guards from Solan Forest Division will be collecting data from locations selected by the Forest Department.

A two-day training was also organised for the Information Technology (IT) Department and Geographic Information System (GIS) cell of the HPFD. The training was conducted in order to ensure monitoring of data quality and the impact of activities on the flow of ecosystem services and related forest management goals. 24 participants from IT and GIS cell were introduced to the basics of LTEM and managing online database. The objective of the training was to capacitate the GIS cell for monitoring data collection and integrating it into the online database at HPFD. HPFD, along with the project, aims to digitalise data over a long period of time which will help in improving the forest management plans, as forest managers would know what will affect the forest ecosystem services over time.

Based on the learnings from the pilot testing of LTEM of Solan Forest Division, the LTEM protocol will be standardised at the state level.

Authors: Dr. Sanjay Tomar, Jyoti Kashyap, Ulrich Flender

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