On-line ISSN 0717-9200
SHAHEEN, Hamayun, AZAD, Beenish, MUSHTAQ, Aroosa et al. Fuelwood consumption pattern and its impact on forest structure in Kashmir Himalayas. Bosque (Valdivia), 2016, vol.37, no.2, p.419-424. ISSN 0717-9200.
Fuel wood is the major source of energy for the rural populations of Kashmir Himalayas. Immense fuel wood extraction from the local forests has resulted in deterioration of forest structure. Although, the fuel wood extraction pattern strongly impacts the structure and species composition of natural forests, detailed investigations remain scarce. The current research was designed to quantify fuel wood consumption levels and analyze the dynamics; emphasizing on variations in fuel wood patterns along an altitudinal gradient during different seasons and information about the preferred fuel wood species in western Himalayan forest stands of Kashmir, Pakistan. Forest stands were surveyed by using systematic quadrate sampling to determine the impact of fuel wood harvesting on natural forest structure. Fuel wood consumption per household was estimated in 16.2 Mg year-1, and 5.9 kg day-1 per capita (ranging from 6.6 kg in summer to 3.9 kg in winter). Consumption at the higher and lower altitudinal villages was recorded as 18.3 and 10.7 Mg annually. Average density for the whole forest stands was calculated to be 73.8 trees ha-1, whereas deforestation intensity was 52.95 stumps ha-1 and seedling density of 12.87 seedlings ha-1. Pinus wallichiana, Abies pindrow and Quercus dilatata were highly exploited species which can lead to the loss of biodiversity and disturbance in the local forests. The results imply that increased fuelwood harvest, combined with low tree density, high population growth and severe climatic conditions, is causing intense forest destruction and associated biodiversity loss. Local forest reserves demand immediate attention in order to conserve the depleting forest structure.
Keywords: deforestation; altitudinal gradient; climatic conditions; phytosociology.
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