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2005| January-March | Volume 3 | Issue 1
July 11, 2009
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Traditional Uses and Conservation of
DC.) through Social Institutions in Uttaranchal Himalaya, India
Chandra Prakash Kala, Nehal A Farooquee, Uppeandra Dhar
January-March 2005, 3(1):224-230
Commercialisation of Forests, Timber Extraction and Deforestation in Uttaranchal, 1815-1947
Dhirendra Datt Dangwal
January-March 2005, 3(1):110-133
This article discusses the process of deforestation during the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century in Uttaranchal. Deforestation in this article is not only identified in terms of the declining vegetational cover but also as extracting more wood than the regenerative capacity of forests. Unsustainable extraction of forest resources does not directly lead to denudation, but to a slow degradation not likely to be apparent until a long time. Thus deforestation has also been linked to the production of wood - a connection which has not yet been carefully analysed by scholars. An analysis of wood production will not only help in historicising the process of deforestation but also in identifying various factors responsible for it. We have analysed in three phases, the extent of wood extraction, which intensified since the late nineteenth century. An attempt has been made to study the changing nature of demand for forest produce. We have discussed how new demands emerged and thereby increased the pressure on forests. Also discussed is the argument that the forest department's management of reserved forests was far from sustainable. The felling prescriptions of the Working Plans, based on questionable data, were frequently violated by foresters for economic exigencies. The result was degradation and denudation of timberlands.
The Fire-Lantana Cycle Hypothesis in Indian Forests
Ankila J Hiremath, Bharath Sundaram
January-March 2005, 3(1):26-42
Anthropogenic fires in Indian forests probably date back to the arrival of the first hominids on the Indian subcontinent.However, with our continuing dependence on forests for a variety of resources, but with shrinking forested areas, forests are being subjected to more intensive use than before. As a result, fires are occurring more frequently today than at any time in the past. This altered fire regime is probably qualitatively different from historical fire regimes in its impact on forests at multiple spatial scales. Present-day fires have possibly led to forest degradation, increasing susceptibility to invasion by alien species such as lantana (Lantana camara). We hypothesise that there may be a positive feedback between present-day fires and invasion by lantana, leading to a firelantana cycle that can have deleterious compositional and functional consequences for forest ecosystems and the commodities and services that society derives from them. Despite the widespread nature of the problem, we lack good empirical information on the effects of varying fire frequency and severity in Indian dry forests. So also, we lack a sound understanding of the mechanistic underpinnings of lantana's success and barriers to its control in Indian forests. Without such information we have little hope of a way out of the fire-lantana cycle.
Value of Ecological Services of Exotic
Tree Plantations of North-Western India
Kamaljit K Sangha, Rajesh K Jalota
January-March 2005, 3(1):92-109
Value assessment of exotic and native tree plantations based upon short-term gains from wood has suggested that exotic plantations are more profitable than native tree plantations. Such estimations have largely ignored the value of ecological services. This study estimates the ecological-economic value of forest floor vegetation, soil nutrients and return of nutrients from litter in exotic Eucalyptus tereticornis and native Dalbergia sissoo plantations in northwestern India. Two age groups of plantations, i.e. 6-8 years (young) and 19-21 years (old) were selected to compare net benefits as exotics deliver most of their benefits (especially wood) by eight years of age, while natives deliver benefits after 12-15 years of age. The diversity of plant species, nutrient content in soil and nutrient return through litter were greater in Dalbergia than in Eucalyptus plantations. A comparison of plantations at eight years suggested that the total monetary value of tangible (timber, fuel, fodder, eucalypt oil and ash) and ecological services (phytodiversity, soil nutrient content and nutrient return through litter) was 1.6 times greater in Eucalyptus than in Dalbergia plantations, chiefly because of timber. However, ecological benefits were 1.8 times greater in Dalbergia than in Eucalyptus plantations. At 19-21 years of age, Dalbergia supported 2.7 times more total benefits than Eucalyptus. Thus there seems to be a need to consider both tangible and intangible services over the long term and to carry out total value assessment of exotic and native tree plantations to design appropriate policy.
Institutionalising Biodiversity Conservation - The Case of Ethiopian Coffee Forests
Franz W Gatzweiler
January-March 2005, 3(1):201-223
The predominant notion on institutionalising biodiversity conservation is that as a result of the features and functions of biodiversity as well as the attributes of the actors, institutional diversity and multi-level governance are required. Institutional diversity per se, however, is not a panacea for successful biodiversity conservation and even less useful for identifying starting points for action. The Ethiopian case demonstrates what happens when-according to theory-the government "steps aside" and the "market works its wonders". After recognising the importance of institutional diversity, the challenge is to shape its context-specific patterns by identifying starting points for action. This requires guidance, mediation, and facilitation. The attempt to conserve Ethiopian coffee forests illustrates that the government, NGOs, local communities as well as private companies have their individual interests but also share a common vision to conserve forests. Well coordinated collective action is identified as a necessary consequence of institutional diversity.
Benign Capitalism by Another Name: Understanding Collapse
January-March 2005, 3(1):238-247
Comparative Spatial Analyses of Forest Conservation and Change in Honduras and Guatemala
Catherine M Tucker, Darla K Munroe, Harini Nagendra, Jane Southworth
January-March 2005, 3(1):174-200
The degradation of dry tropical forests proceeds more rapidly than that of most moist tropical forests, but despite their importance for human populations as a source of products and environmental services, dry tropical forests rarely become the focus of conservation efforts. This study explores processes of land cover change in study sites in eastern Guatemala and western Honduras, where dry tropical forests have been declining with the introduction and expansion of export market crops, especially coffee. Through analyses of remotely sensed images, landscape metrics, and spatially explicit econometric modelling, the transformations occurring across these landscapes are examined and compared for the period between 1987 and 1996. The results show that the Guatemala region presents greater forest fragmentation, well-developed transportation networks and immigration in a context of strong linkages to coffee export markets. Net forest regrowth occurs in the Honduran region, while net deforestation occurs in the Guatemalan region. Spatially explicit models indicate that market accessibility and topography alone explain about 60% of the total variation in Honduras, but only 51% of the variation in Guatemala. Integration of social data collected through fieldwork indicates that a higher degree of community organisation to protect forests in Honduras is an important factor in the lower rate of forest transformation, as compared to Guatemala for the same period. In both cases, there is a high degree of dynamism and apparent cyclical patterns in land cover change. These results suggest that attention to human and ecological cycles, as well as market, infrastructural and topographic factors, can contribute to the development of effective approaches for the conservation of tropical dry forests.
Claims on Natural Resources: Exploring the Role of Political Power in Pre-Colonial Rajasthan, India
January-March 2005, 3(1):134-149
The issue of claims over natural resources has been debated for a long time. With its growing powers, the state has increasingly claimed prior proprietary rights over natural resources. It is generally proposed that traditional societies were able to resolve the issue of claims over natural resources and state intervention was minimal. Early writings have sought to establish a 'golden age' approach to Indian environmental history. The interventionist attitude of the state has been attributed to the British. The state tried to control and manage the natural resources not for conservation but to enhance revenue collection. However, it might be incorrect to attribute interventionism only to colonial and post-colonial administrations. Medieval states were also very eager to ensure continuous and regular appropriation of revenue and were thus actively involved with the management and appropriation of natural resources. Here, an attempt is made to examine the necessity and extent of intervention in the management and appropriation of natural resources. The role of traditional rights and claims of the common man have also been examined.
Fire, Grazing and the Dynamics of Tall-Grass Savannas in the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, South India
January-March 2005, 3(1):4-25
Prescribed burning is often used to enhance forage availability for herbivores in rangelands worldwide. This study evaluated the utility of such prescribed burning as a management tool to improve herbivore habitat quality in the Mundanthurai plateau region of the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), south India. Currently, large tracts of the plateau are dominated by the unpalatable tall-grass species Cymbopogon flexuosus, and populations of mammalian herbivores and predators in the region are low. Responses of C. flexuosus communities to experimentally-imposed fire and grazing regimes were studied, and the effectiveness of fire in suppressing this tall-grass species assessed. Two years following burning, C. flexuosus cover in burnt plots was indistinguishable from unburned sites, suggesting that C. flexuosus individuals are fairly stable against perturbations by fire. On the other hand, clipping experiments which simulated a scenario of high intensity grazing indicate that C. flexuosus fares poorly under sustained grazing, suggesting the potential for grazer-control of this species. However, C. flexuosus is typically avoided by grazers except for short periods following burning. Although grazing in these communities was higher post-burn responses of plots experiencing 'natural' levels of grazing indicate that grazer densities at KMTR are presently too low to prevent C. flexuosus from quickly re-attaining competitive dominance following burning. Under the current conditions of low herbivore densities, prescribed burning, by itself, is therefore unlikely to significantly improve herbivore habitat in KMTR. For burning to be effective, it must be coupled with other parallel management strategies aimed at augmenting grazer densities in the reserve.
Quantifying Changes in Vegetation in Shrinking Grazing Areas in Africa
Randall B Boone
January-March 2005, 3(1):150-173
Pastoralists around the globe are being sedentarised and livestock mobility is declining. Animals once able to move about landscapes to access ephemeral green forage are being confined to small areas with fewer forage choices. The ecosystem model SAVANNA was used to quantify the effects of land subdivision and sedentarisation on vegetation traits in South Africa and Kenya. In South Africa, significant declines in high palatability green leaf biomass, annual net primary productivity, and root biomass were recorded as a 300 km
block of land was subdivided into parcels of 10 km
. In contrast, low palatability biomass measures generally increased. Woody plant populations and slow decomposing soil organic matter increased significantly, whereas surface litter declined. In southern Kajiado District, Kenya, group ranches in which livestock populations declined under subdivision showed increases in herbaceous biomass, whereas the ranch where livestock populations did not change under subdivision had less herbaceous biomass. Livestock within small parcels were food stressed in the dry season and their populations declined so that vegetation increased beyond what could be eaten in the wet season. The vegetation changes modelled led to, or reflected, significant declines in livestock. The results suggest that stakeholders should retain open access to subdivided lands to reduce loss of vegetation productivity.
Rule Compliance in Participatory Watershed Management: Is it a Sufficient Guarantee of Sustainable Rural Livelihoods?
Mathew Kurian, T Dietz, KS Murali
January-March 2005, 3(1):43-71
In recent years, decentralised development approaches have been promoted to realise the goal of poverty reduction. In the agriculture sector, declining budgetary support and deteriorating quality of service provision by state parastatals the world over has prompted an interest in Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) and Joint Forest Management (JFM) policies. Donor-supported JFM and IMT projects have encouraged co-management between state parastatals and farmer groups or the private sector to undertake tasks of catchment protection, water allocation, collection of irrigation service fees (ISFs), and routine maintenance of irrigation infrastructure in a watershed context. Some evaluations of participatory watershed management projects assume that compliance with institutional rules would facilitate greater cost recovery, enhance agricultural productivity, and reduce dependence on government budgets, and may, therefore, be viewed as indicators of institutional success. But, based on an extensive survey and a detailed case study of participatory watershed management organisations in the Haryana Shiwaliks, we argue instead that institutional success may be evaluated on the basis of how much rule compliance has contributed towards an improvement in transparency of programme implementation, pro-poor benefit distribution, and condition of environmental resources. We also examine the prospects for participatory watershed management in the context of changes in the wider regional and macro economy.
Examining Institutional Change: Social Conflict in Nepal's Leasehold Forestry Programme
Harini Nagendra, Birendra Karna, Mukunda Karmacharya
January-March 2005, 3(1):72-91
Among developing countries, Nepal has been an enthusiastic leader in experimenting with participatory systems of forest governance. This article evaluates the state-initiated implementation of the leasehold forestry programme in Nepal, aimed at providing better livelihoods to the poorest sections of society by leasing patches of degraded forest land for a 40-year period. Using case studies in the middle hills, we studied the interaction between leasehold forestry users and forest dependent communities that were excluded from the programme. Our evaluation of local institutions and forest condition before and after implementation of the programme revealed that there is a high degree of social conflict between users and non-users, with an increase in forest degradation. Nevertheless, in some situations, user groups have developed innovative approaches to conflict resolution, leading to significant improvements in forest biodiversity and biomass levels. We conclude that it is not enough to simply change existing legislation and put a new institution in place. The degree to which such institutions can survive and succeed in achieving their objectives will depend crucially on how well they interface with existing institutions, and the manner in which this interface evolves over time in response to the needs and expectations of local communities.
Influenced by the Sea
January-March 2005, 3(1):233-238
Social History in Tigerland
K Ullas Karanth
January-March 2005, 3(1):231-233
Open Access and the Philosophy of Scientific Publishing
January-March 2005, 3(1):1-3
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