Forest & Humans

Monitoring of Biomass Stocks and Forest Community Structures in Temperate Zone of Western Himalaya
Funded : Ministry of Environment and Forest, Climate Change (MoEF,CC) Goverment of India
Duration : 3 years
Project Lead : Dr. Rajesh Thadani

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The study aims to provide more accurate data on biomass and carbon sequestration rates, while developing a method to rapidly access the same using LAI in cool temperate zone of western Himalayan region and its response to climate change. The project also aims to understand the shift in altitudinal belt of important tree species due to changes in climatic regimes and future composition of the forests.
The study would be conducted along two transects in the cool temperate region between 1600 –2400 m in Central Himalayas. 20 permanent plots will be placed for the study at intervals of 100m rise in altitude. Total 320 permanent plots would be set up along the altitudinal gradients. Regional as well as internationally accepted equations would be used to calculate the biomass of the tree species. Standard and widely accepted methods and protocols are proposed to study soil parameters and estimate soil carbon and nutrient levels at different altitudes and in different forest types.


Effects of Land Use Change and Fragmentation on Himalayan Bird Communities in Banj Oak Forests of Kumaon, Uttarakhand
Funded : Department of Science and Technology (DST) Goverment of India
Duration : 3 years
Project Lead : Dr. Ghazala Sahabuddin


The banj oak (Quercus leucotrichophora) forests of the Western Himalayas (1500-2500 m a.s.l.) form a biologically diverse region with unique floral and faunal communities. These forests, internationally classified as ‘Western Himalayan Temperate Forest’, have been declared an eco-region of high conservation importance by WWF-International and Birdlife International. However, this forest type also sustains considerable pressure caused by rural development and is undergoing rapid degradation due to biomass extraction, pine ingression, horticulture, tourism development, construction and road-widening. Issues of biodiversity loss, including local extinctions of vulnerable bird species, have become prominent due to such large-scale changes. This project aims to comprehensively evaluate the ecological impacts of forest modification, transformation and fragmentation on the native forest bird communities through intensive field surveys and landscape-level modelling, ultimately providing recommendations for conservation planning in this bio-diverse region.


Extinction Vulnerability of Bird Communities along Land Use and Management Gradients: A Comparative Approach in the Forests of Northeast and Central Himalayan Regions of India.
Funded: SCIENCE & ENGINEERING RESEARCH BOARD (SERB), Department of Science and Technology, Government of India
Duration: 3 years
Project Lead: Dr. Rajkamal Goswami

rajkamal collageLanduse change is one of the gravest threats to tropical biodiversity. Driven by logging, grazing, fuelwood collection, mining and shifting cultivation, such changes accelerate species extinction rates. The intensity and extent of such activities are often determined by the conservation efficacy and priorities of different forest management systems and in turn impacts abundance and composition of faunal communities. Globally and in India, a wide variability occurs in management systems of both state and community forest and range from protected to intensive-use.
The mid-elevation forests of the Kumaon Central Himalayas, Uttarakhand (1700-2200 m asl) and Khasi-Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya (50-1938 m asl) are ‘biodiversity hotspots’ and ‘Important Bird Areas’. Both have a long history of indigenous forest protection and management systems which are well documented from human and forest ecology perspective. However, in the recent past, both these sites have seen both insidious and rapid land use changes. How such changes affect the old native forests and their associated faunal assemblages is yet to be understood in detail, particularly within the context of tropics.

Through this project, I intend to investigate the linkages between different forest-management systems and land-use change within and across the Kumaon Central Himalaya and Khasi Jaintia Hills on bird communities. This study will address a critical gap in our understanding about the impact of the different forest management approaches on animal communities and their habitats.