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Strategies for Reducing Deforestation and Disaster Risk: Lessons from Garhwal Himalaya, India

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Ecosystem-Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Adaptation in Practice

Part of the book series: Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research ((NTHR,volume 42))

Abstract

Forest ecosystem services are significant for local communities, especially for mountain communities dependent on natural resources. This chapter examines the contribution of forests to local communities dwelling at various elevations (from 1400 to 2800 m.a.s.l.) in Upper Kedarnath Valley of Garhwal, India. It is based on a study which provides an overview of common fodder extraction practices in the region and their impact on disaster risk. The research pointed to exceptional variations in temperature, snowfall and rainfall intensity that were reported in the past three decades. According to local communities, during this period deforestation and forest degradation were the result of land conversion, construction of hydropower dams, and increased biomass extraction particularly for firewood and fodder production as well as extraction of forest products. Extreme climate events and disasters are closely linked to these forest cover changes. The research showed that livestock per household, individuals per household involved in fodder harvesting, and the altitude of the village are important factors affecting forest health, or forest degradation patterns, respectively. The study provides an overview of impact of climate variabilities and forest degradation on local communities. Fodder banks are discussed as a nature-based (or ecosystem-based) solution that can address forest degradation in the Indian Himalayan Region and neighboring mountain countries. The approach is based on the principles of ‘community and ecosystem management’ to provide an alternative for fodder resources to local communities. Efforts from this practical experience reflect the need of proactive planning to enhance adaptive capacities of mountain communities in India and South Asia in general. This study is intended to enable more effective targeting of forest management interventions to reconcile the goals of poverty reduction and forest conservation.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank their field Assistant in Maikhanda village Sri. Birulal and all our informants of Upper Kedar valley, who wanted to share their traditional knowledge with us. Authors wish to thank the Director, CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur and Director, Society for Conserving Planet and Life (COPAL) for encouragement. Thanks also to Dr. Karen Sudmeier-Rieux, Dr. Udo Nehren and Dr. Fabrice Renaud for their constructive comments and suggestions to substantially improve the manuscript. Financial support for the work from Department of Science and Technology (SYSP scheme) and Rufford Small Grants Programme, UK is thankfully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Shalini Dhyani .

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Dhyani, S., Dhyani, D. (2016). Strategies for Reducing Deforestation and Disaster Risk: Lessons from Garhwal Himalaya, India. In: Renaud, F., Sudmeier-Rieux, K., Estrella, M., Nehren, U. (eds) Ecosystem-Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Adaptation in Practice. Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research, vol 42. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-43633-3_22

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