Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 555–564 | Cite as

Assessing the Priorities for Sustainable Forest Management in the Sikkim Himalaya, India: A Remote Sensing Based Approach

  • Sandeep TambeEmail author
  • M. L. Arrawatia
  • Narpati Sharma
Research Article


Sikkim is a small, mountainous, Indian state (7,096 km2) located in the eastern Himalayan region. Though a global biodiversity hotspot, it has been relatively less studied. A detailed forest type, density and change dynamics study was undertaken, using SATELLITE remote sensing data and intensive field verification. The landscape was found to be dominated by alpine and nival ecosystems, with a large portion above the tree line, considerable snow cover, and a sizeable area under forest cover (72%, 5,094 km2). A total of 18 landscape components including 14 vegetation classes were delineated, with the major ones being oak forest, alpine meadow, alpine scrub, conifer forest and alder-cardamom agro-forestry. Of the 3,154 km2 of forests below the tree line, 40% were found to be dense (>40% tree canopy cover). A sizeable portion of the non dense forests below the tree line was contributed by the degradation of oak forests, which was confirmed by change detection analysis. However on a positive front over the past decade, ban on grazing and felling of trees in forests has been implemented. In order to expand the extent of dense forests, further efforts are needed for the restoration of oak forests such as fire protection, providing alternatives to firewood use, promotion of alder-cardamom agro-forestry in the private lands and protection of the small-sized, fragmented forest patches in the subtropical belt.


Eastern Himalaya Spatial analysis Change detection Vegetation mapping Oak forest 



We gratefully acknowledge the support received from Indian Institute of Technology- Kharagpur and the Department of Forest, Environment and Wildlife Management, Government of Sikkim.


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Copyright information

© Indian Society of Remote Sensing 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandeep Tambe
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • M. L. Arrawatia
    • 2
  • Narpati Sharma
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Forest, Environment and Wildlife ManagementGovernment of SikkimGangtokIndia
  2. 2.Department of Science and Technology and Climate ChangeGovernment of SikkimGangtokIndia
  3. 3.GangtokIndia

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