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Sustainability Indicators in a Temperate Mountain Watershed: Two Villages of the Upper Beas River, Himachal Pradesh, India

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Duffield, Colin E.
Conference: Voices from the Commons, the Sixth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Berkeley, CA
Conf. Date: June 5-8, 1996
Date: 1996
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2151
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
village organization
Abstract: "Villages in the Himalayan front ranges of NW India are undergoing a rapid livelihood change from self-reliant agriculture and herding, to apple monocropping and tourism. Given that sustainability involves biophysical, social, and economic dimensions, the objective of the present project was to investigate relevant indicators. A conceptual ecosystem model of flows of material (e.g. fodder) and services (e.g. landslide protection) suggest that forests are the primary foundation of village sustainability. Agriculture, horticulture and pasture viability, the condition of soils, and tourism are also important components. Forest cover, tree-age class, and species inventory data for the forest use areas of the villages of Goshal and Chachoga were collected from government sources. A changing pattern of forest cover and density since 1918 suggests an overall loss in both cases. Three of Chachoga's six common tree species (spruce, chestnut and silver fir) and three of Goshal's seven (deodar, pine, and chestnut) have unsustainable age-class structures in that they lack younger trees. The age-class structures of two other of Goshal's common species (silver fir and spruce) may also be moving towards unsustainability. Observation of soil erosion characteristics showed that erosion occurs mostly in areas of high animal traffic which are concentrated in pathways close to the villages. Animal traffic, transport of timber down-slope, forest clearing, and the high energy monsoon rains all contribute to areas of massive erosion."

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