Abstracts of papers to be presented in session on Himalayan Ecology & Economics
Biodiversity of Ladakh Highlands
By: OP Sharma Vidyarthi
Ladakh the land of passes, land of Lamas is also known as “Little Tibet” as it has many high altitude passes, dominated by Lamas and has many influences of TIBET. Ladakh was independent kingdom then ruled by Mughals followed by Dogras, Gen Zorawar Singh taking route via Kishtwar and Zanskar in 19th Century. Today we undertake Machail pilgrimage along Bhot nala, a tributary of river Chenab, and see Zorawar’ s fort at Gulabgarh in Paddar. Latter area has many common elements of Ladakh biodiversity, e.g. plants like Morina, Ferula, Hyssopus, Juniper, Lonicera, Rosa, Lindelofia, Ribes, Willows, Verbascum, Geranium, Codonopsis, Campanula, Eleagnus, Fagopyrum, Pedicularis, Iris, Nepeta, Artemisia, Hyoscyamus, Rumex, Primula species and animals like Ibex, Pika, Chukor, Wolf, Wild dog, Otter, Yak, Chough, Finches, Bearded vulture, Rufous turtle dove etc are common to both areas. Pure Buddhist village on Kishtwar side of Zanskar is Sumchang also called as Sumchaam where one finds barley cultivation, Chortens, Chhang, milk products of yak hybrids, celebration of Ladakhi festivals and Amchi system of health care. While on a visit to Sumchaam in August, 2010, I was offered Chhang, served butter of yak, shown some plants used by Amchis, plants included Primula, Delphinium, Stachys, Eritrichum, Swertia, Verbascum, Cremanthodium, all found in Ladakh highlands.
Biodiversity of Ladakh is backbone of its economy, locals use gaudy flowers and fruits like Physalis alkengii (vern : Shoklo), Potentilla, Aster to decorate headgear, use Yak’s milk, butter, burn juniper as incense, use wild flora in amchi system of medicine, cultivate barley, drink Chhang and celebrate festivals in monastries where twigs of Oleaster (vern : Serching) are treated as auspicious. Wildlife of Ladakh is rich in species of Sheep and Goat, Marmots, Pikas, Geese, Wild Ass, Black necked crane, Chukor, ruddy Sheldrake, Choughs, Finches, Accentors, Magpies, Voles etc but poor in species of reptiles and amphibians. Scutiger occidentalis is unique toad of Ladakh, its another species is S. sikkimensis is found in sikkim where we also come across Yak and black necked crane.
Latest cloudburst in Leh, Nubra and Zanskar is new to history, it has challenged old mudhouses, made deplorable loss of life and property including biodiversity habitats. Are we experiencing horrors of climate change, suffering for changing old eco-friendly lifestyles, reaping penalties of modern greed which look at natural resources as means of materialistic gains only and eclipses their fundamental role in maintaining life support systems. Areas like Ladakh where most unfavourable conditions of living exist were made habitable by people by devising methods of co-existence with nature but no more so in modern days of greed and progress. We have to mend our ways if we want to flourish long and have prosperity of our children. Biodiversity is not merely number of species but way of sustaining life on this planet earth which has been evolved over million years of evolution. With our follies, we are today on the brink of loosing many species and ecosystems with which we are intimately linked in the intricate web of life.
Ecotourism and Livlihoods
By:OP Sharma Vidyarthi
Hector ceballos lascurian is given credit for coining the word ,ECOTOURISM in 1983 and term was used to describe the NATURE BASED TRAVEL with emphasis on education ,management and development of sustainable tourism .More precise is the definition given by World Tourism Organisation which is----Tourism that involves traveling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with specified object of studying ,admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals as well as existing cultural aspects both past and present found in the area is ECOTOURISM .
Ecotourism concentrates not only on adding value to flora and fauna ,focusing on ecofriendly ways of tourism but also on generation of livelihoods for the local people by inviting them to act as guides ,photographers ,bird watchers ,history tellers ,folk healers ,wildlife actors ,nature painters ,ecofriendly art and craft artisans ,transporters ,hotliers ,folk singers etc so that their cultural customs and traditions alongwith natural and historical heritage becomes a source of earnings for them.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is known for its limitless tourism potential having varied ecotourism destinations in the form of PILGRIM CENTERS ,HIGH ALTITUDE LAKES ,PICTURESQUE VALLEYS AND MEADOWS ,CRYSTAL CLEAR HILL STREAMS ,RIVER RAFTING ,WINTER SPORTS AREAS ,HISTORICAL SPOTS ,MOUNTAINEERING TREKS etc but so far no management strategies are in place to create livelihoods for locals who have considerable knowledge about local plants ,animals ,treks ,folk healing ,medicinal uses ,historical and cultural anectdotes to share with visitors ,pilgrims and trkkers .
The state of Jammu and Kashmir has 3 distinct geographical regions namely JAMMU ,KASHMIR ,LADAKH having unique ethnic ,cultural ,historical and religious identity and this uniqueness should be reflected in all ecotourism initiatives at all levels ,beraucratic ,political , village panchyats and cultural groups at ecotourism destination level .It is a sad state of affairs that so far tourism department and forest department in Jammu and Kashmir have remained in complete isolation and never chalked out their sustainable ecotourism strategies together involving all stakeholders and local people as if they do not see commonalities anywhere and want to achieve their set goals without involving each other.
Ecotourism should get priority over commercial tourism ,it should focus on utilizing local manpower to create ecofriendly hutments (not concrete structures) , to serve local cuisines (not pizzas ,chips and burgers ) ,to display local indigenous songs ,music and dances (Not commercial western pop ) ,to familiarize local flora and fauna in vernaculars (not cumbersome botanical ,zoological names ) ,to tell interesting stories about local places like Trikuta hill ,Sohanjana ,THANDI KHUI ,Gurez ,Harmukh ,Gangbal ,sheshnag ,CHIRAR E SHRIEF ,MULBECK ,THIKSEY , KHARDUNGLA ,TSOMORIRI ,PANGONG ,MANSAR , GAURI KUND ,SUKHNAG DUKHNAG and famous heros ,warriors ,lovers ,lyricists ,painters ,and other well known personalities like BABA JITO ,MIAN DEEDO ,ZORAWER SINGH , K. L. SEHGAL ,PT SHIV KUMAR SHARMA ,USTAD ALLAH RAKHA ,LALDED ,HABA KHATOON , AKINANDAN, COL. R. N. CHOPRA ,LALA RAM DHAN ,PERMANAND ALMAST ,KUNJU CHANCHLO ,SOHNI MAHIWAL ETC .The ecotourists visiting our state should go home with mind boggling inputs from all possible resources so that after return to their places ,they have many anecdotes ,love stories ,fascinating flowers (balsams ,columbines ,roses ,primroses ,buttercups ,orchids ,mallows ,louseworts ,irises ,daffodils ,larkspurs ) ,wildlife memories (hangul ,markhor ,shapu ,karth ,thungthung ,sarkhal ,udder ,een ,killbakkri),awesome photoshots ,musical melodies (lol ,haba lyrics ,rouf ,haran,kudd ,phummniyan ,jagrna ) historical echoes ,beautiful art and craft show pieces , local cuisines (guaalmanda ,khameeray ,thothdu ,jakhni ,momo ,machran chai ,gud gud chai ,shang ,timbru chutney ) etc to share with .
Notable places of rich ecotourism potential in jammu and Kashmir are many but lesser known destinations like Padder ,Machel ,Sumchaag ,Pingla ,Chauntra ,Sankri devta ,Chorvan ,Badao ,Limber lachhipora ,Karnah teetwal ,Rajdhaan ,Simthan ,Margan, Chingaam ,Nalthi ,Sarthal ,Sannkoo ,Lalung ,Batalik ,Panamik ,Puga valley etc need to be popularized among visitors .All initiatives to popularize ecotourism however need to be ecologically sustainable and nature centric in addition to have local focus and livelihood specific strategy .Nature tourism has not only recreational rewards but also educative and health benefits for the ecotourists .Let us treat mother nature with reverence and enjoy its mind boggling beauties displayed so nicely and magnificently in the wilderness.
Impact of Climatic Change on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Himalayas
By: Sheraz Ahmed and A.K. Srivastav
The mountains cover nearly 25% of the world land area and are home to around 13% of the total population .They are essential ecosystem series providers but both mountains and the people residing in those area are increasingly under threat due to global warming. like living members of the biosphere medicinal and aromatic plants are not immune to the effects of climate change. Climatic have been noticeable that effects on the life cycle and distribution of the world vegetation, including medicinal and aromatic plants. As we noticed that some medicinal and aromatic plants are endemic to geographic region or ecosystem particularly vulnerable to climate change which could put them to risk. Some studies have demonstrated that temperature stress can affect the secondary metabolites and other compounds that plant produce which are usually the basis for their medicinal activity. As we now that a lot of medicinal plants are collected from mountain and used for medicinal purpose in different method for various disease. The plant growing in alpine environment may also be particularly impacted by climates change. After polar region alpine areas are changing faster than any other area on earth. Some researcher conducted research on alpine environments of the Himalayas and found that some could adopted plants species in alpine environments have begun to gradually climb higher up mountain summits phenomenon correlated with warming temperature. In some cases these plants migrate upward until there are no higher areas to inhabit, at which point they may be faced with extinction.Adittionaly, the upward migration of plants species can lead to increased competition for space and resources, causing further stress among alpine plant population.
By the most advanced studies shows that the Himalayas are likely to experience some of the most drastic climate changes in the world outside the polar region, with temperature increase of 5-6°C and precipitation increase 20 30% so, the glaciers of the alps respond to the ongoing temperature increase of about 1.2c since 19th century with a drastic shrinkage. Such studies shows that the climatic changes grater effect on Himalayan alpine vegetation then an vegetation found in else where in the world. Due to the above temperature stress the medicinal plants are threatened by our harvest, and the additional challenge posed by climate change could push some species which migrate other wise have been sustainable to extinction. Example of endemic species to Himalayas for negative effect of climate change such as Snow lotus Saussvrea laniceps of Asteraceae medicinal plant used for treatment of high blood pressure, heart condition. However some more information added a few medicinal alpine species are restricted to the upper alpine zone,such as Artemisa genipi and Primula glutinosa.These species may experience grater impact from warming temperature possibly leading to local endangerment.This resulted from a transect study with detailed field records and fine scaled distribution models. In additions, the ecophysiological constitution of alpine and subnival plants, their propagation ability and their life history will be crucial for vegetation dynamic in future warmer climate. The risk of climate induced upward migration process of plants include drastic area losses or even extinction of cryophilions plants, a disintegration of current vegetation patterns and impact on the stability of high mountain ecosystem.
Climatic change may not currently represent the biggest threat to medicinal and aromatic plants but it has the potential to become a much greater threat in future decades. The effect of climate change on medicinal plants of alpine region in particular has not well studied and it is not fully understood. As the situation unfolds, climate change may become or more pressing uses for the herbal community, potentally affected users, harvesters and manufacturer of medicinal and aromatic plants species. Medicinal and aromatic plants in Arctic and alpine areas faces challenges associated with their rapidly changing environment and also shows that the losses of local plant population. Due to all factors laws can be passed to stop all the movement that effects the climate such as, stop deforestation and over collections etc. In some cases such laws have achieved immediate result Moreover new method should be implemented to stop all the activity which effect the climate and save the medicinal and aromatic plants which are very important for the cure of various dangerous disease for human as well as animals.
Climate Change and Adaptive Responses of Society
By: Ritu Bakshi
Among the existing and projected impacts of climate change, impacts on water resources are expected to exacerbate the current and future threat of global water scarcity. Glacier-dependent societies are especially vulnerable to water scarcity due to the more pronounced effects of climate change on glacial systems that govern the water availability of these societies. In this paper, water scarcity is examined as an impact of climate change in Dharamshala and Leh, two glacier-dependent towns of northern India, while recognizing that climate change is not the only factor causing depletion of water resources in these towns. In order to show the linkage between climate change and water scarcity, evidence is presented on changes occurring in the towns' local climate parameters such as snowfall, rainfall and temperature, as well as changes in the hydrology of the water bodies that make water available to these towns. This establishes that water scarcity in these towns has been induced not only by increasing demand, but also by decreasing supply of water. In light of the water scarcity facing these towns, an investigation of the measures taken by their local governments to address this issue is presented, which reveals that the primary adaptive response employed in both towns has been supply augmentation. The driver behind this response has been the pursuit of economic development to improve the standard of living of Dharamshala and Leh's constituents. It is argued that economic development as a driver has not been effective in inducing holistic adaptive responses to water scarcity. Additionally, climate change considerations have been largely absent in the policy/planning processes that govern water management in both towns, implying that the responses of Dharamshala and Leh to water scarcity have been influenced by the pursuit of short-term economic benefits in a local economy that fails to recognize the importance of the integrity of water resources to its sustenance. The perpetuation of unsustainable economic development and failure to account for climate change impacts in local water management points to the presence of several technological, structural, financial, and political barriers to the planning/implementation of holistic climate-centric strategies for adaptation to water scarcity in Dharamshala and Leh. Therefore, in the concluding part of this paper, recommendations are offered to enable the local governments of Dharamshala and Leh to overcome these barriers.
Commerce and Conservation: Reviving wildlife and Reaping economic benefits
By: Barun Mitra