Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 472–481 | Cite as

Availability and use of willow species in representative cold desert areas of northwestern himalaya, India

  • Yashwant S. Rawat
  • Colin S. Everson


Willow species (Salix fragilis L. and S. alba L.) are important elements of cold desert agroforestry systems in the Lahaul valley, northwestern Himalaya. Their ability to grow through shoot-cuttings plantations under extreme and xeric climatic conditions of cold deserts, makes them ecologically suited and socially accepted for forestry programmes. Willow species in cold deserts may combat desertification and can thrive well in these areas as compared to any other species. Salix fragilis L. and S. alba L. are under cultivation in the Lahaul valley. However, S. fragilis is widely cultivated under the agroforestry and plantation forestry systems. In the Lahaul valley, willow species are used as subsistence resources and for socio-religious purposes. The present study was carried out to examine the vegetation analysis, density, diversity and distribution of willow species, present status and potential willow plantation sites and uses. The results of present study revealed that a higher species density was recorded at middle altitude villages (Jahlma-3,000 m asl and Hinsa-2,700 m asl), except, a higher density of S. fragilis was at Khoksar (3,200 m asl) in plantation forestry on south-facing slopes. In forests, S. fragilis was planted mainly along the water channels, resulted a low density. The shrubby willow species occurred naturally in the entire Lahaul valley up to an altitude of 3,850 m asl. 81% of households felt the scarcity of willow trees, whereas, 19% of households were satisfied with the willow trees they owned. The majority of willow species were planted in middle altitudes on privately owned irrigated lands. It was rated most potential prospective willow planting site by the farmers. Small size of land-holdings was one of the main constraints for establishing a large number of willow plantations. Commercial aspects of willow species need to be investigated to encourage the farmers to plant more willows further.


Willow Agroforestry Forestry Species diversity Himalaya 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Water Resources Research, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa

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