Home Articles Impact of Change on the Landscapes of Ecodevelopment Area, Himachal Pradesh

Impact of Change on the Landscapes of Ecodevelopment Area, Himachal Pradesh

Suneet Naithani
NRDMS Centre,
Dept. of Geography
SSJ Campus
Almora, Kumaun University

Vinod B. Mathur
Wildlife Institute of India
P.O. Box.18

Himalayas are young and well known for their climatic, floristic, faunistic and geological diversity. Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (GHNPCA) is one of the important protected areas (PAs) for the conservation of the biological diversity in Western Himalayan region. Vegetation in park area is mainly temperate, sub-alpine and alpine.

Ecodevelopment Area (EDA) is one of the important sub units of GHNPCA. This is the main habitation zone within the conservation area. The area bears maximum biotic pressure and puts pressure in GHNPCA too in the form of migratory sheep and goat grazing, extraction of medicinal plant, collection of Guchhi mushroom, fuelwood etc.

For the EDA the Landuse/Landcover mapping had been done using Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographical Information System (GIS). Because the technology is cost effective with repetitive coverage, whereas GIS domain provides techniques to capture, store, manipulate, analyze and display geographically referenced data. The study used socio-economic data to monitor change in Landuse/Landcover with respect to population between 1961 and 1991.

The Study Site
The GHNPCA encompasses nearly 1171 km2 area and altitude varies from 1344 to 6248 m. Whereas EDA is covering about 255 km2 area (310 54′ N to 310 81′ N Latitude and 770 28′ E to 770 53′ E Longitude). According to Biogeographic Classification, GHNPCA falls under north-western Himalayan biotic province i.e., 2A (Rodgers et al 2000). The park is well known for its rich diversity compared to other areas at similar altitudes in the north western Himalaya (Gaston et al 1981). It supports a large number of rare and endangered species

The mean annual rainfall recorded at Niharni for the period, 1992-94 was 1155.67 mm. while at Sainj for 1992-94 it was 1158.26, the temperature varies from minus 10°C to 35°C by Gaston et al (1981).

Based on the dominance and physiognomy according to Champion and Seth’s classification (1968) following vegetation types have been recognised in the study area ; (1) Sub-tropical Pine Forest (9/C1b), (2) Temperate Moist Deciduous Forests (12/C1e), (3) Temperate Broadleaved-conifer mixed Forests (12/C1d; 12/C2b), (4) Temperate Coniferous mixed Forests (12/C3a), (5) Temperate Broadleaved (Evergreen) Forest (12/C2a) Kharsu Oak Forests, (6) Himalayan Temperate Secondary scrub, (7) Birch-Rhododendron Scrub, (8) Alpine Scrub, (9) Temperate Grasslands, (10) Alpine Pastures.

The fauna of the GHNPCA comprised 31 species of mammals (Gaston and Garson, ( 1992); Vinod and Sathyakumar (1999), 183 species of birds Gaston et al (1993 ), Ramesh et al (1999), and more than 125 species of invertebrates Uniyal & Mathur (1999). From conservation point of view this area has a great significance. The map of village locations can be seen on Fig 1.


Land use and People of the area
There were about 123 hamlets in 13 revenue villages with 2465 households and with the population of about 11715 (1991 census). The literacy of the area was 6.8% (based on 1991 census data). The main occupation of these people was agriculture, rearing sheep and goat along with horticulture.

The medicinal plants and mushrooms (Morchella esculanta) extractions were means of secondary income (because of their high price and value) and in some cases even contributed about 70% of the total income. The mushroom was mainly collected from February to May in the lower altitude and about 1,200 people scan the forest floor (Singh & Rawat 1999). Horticulture was becoming more popular in the area and raising orchards of Apple, Plum, Walnut and Cherry etc. The main pressures on the area were due to the collection of herbs, edible mushrooms, grazing of sheep and goat in summer. The herb collectors and grazers visited alpine pastures for collecting the subalpine species – Quercus semecarpifolia, Betula utilis, Rhododendron spp. and the alpine Juniperus spp. and Rhododendron spp. About 20000 sheep and goats were grazing in this area (Mathur, P. K. and Mehra 1999). Local people as well as people came from as far as Anni Tehsil graze their livestock in the park.

For the Change Detection Analysis the Survey of India (SOI) toposheet 1961, Satellite Imageries of 1993, Census Data of 1981 and 1991 were used. Significant changes in the population and landuse patterns have occurred for the period between 1961 and 1993 in the EDA in the last four decades. In order to understand the nature and quantum of these changes an overlay analysis of T1-T2 periods (Landuse/landcover maps (T1) from 1961 SOI Sheets and Satellite data (T2) interpretation of 1993) was done In GIS domain using Arc/info software package and can be seen through flow chart as Fig.2. The eleven forest and six non forest types have been delineated. The landuse/landcover map of EDA given in Fig.5.

Results and Discussions
Areal estimation under different landuse/landcover categories are shown in Table 1. Whereas, the population growth statistics for the period 1981, 1991 and projections for the year 2001 are given in Table 2. The maps related to change detection analysis has been given in Fig. 3 to Fig. 6. The total area of EDA was estimated 265.6 km2 of which 26.07 km2 was under man made feature and remaining area was under forest and non-forest classes. The mixed coniferous forest comprised of 73.49 km2. Whereas, the total grasslands were 34.70 km2. Increase in area of man made features (Habitation /Agriculture/Orchard) was estimated 8.48 km2, while 4.31 km2 was found not cultivated as was practiced in 1961. The overall change in area was about 12.79 km2. It was also observed that deterioration of vegetal cover was unidirectional i.e. towards forest. The area had been correlated with population dynamics and fuel and fodder consumption between 1961and 1991 as shown in Table3.

Table 1. Areal Estimation Under Different Landuse/Landcover Categories


S.No Type Area in sq.km
1 Conifer ( Pinus roxburghii ) 2.08
2 Mixed conifer 73.49
3 Conifer and Broad Leaved Mixed 13.48
4 Broad Leaved 33.03
5 Broad Leaved and Conifer Mixed 48.29
6 Riperian 0.13
7 Slope Grasses 26.09
8 Grasslands/ Blanks(Temp. sub Alpine & Alpine) 8.61
9 Secondary Scrub 16.50
10 Alpine Scrub 6.72
11 Plantation 0.16
12 Habitation/Agriculture/Orchards 26.07
13 Exposed Rocks with Slope Grasses 8.35
14 Alpine Exp. Rocks with Slope Grasses 0.07
15. River 1.03
17. Escarpments 1.34
18. Landslide 0.07



Table 2. Population Growth Statistics Of Eda

Name of villages Total Population(1991) 1981 Growth Rate(%) Total projected Population 2001
1. Chipni 1537 1187 2.94 1982
2. Mashyar 1280 948 3.50 1728
3. Pekhri 1098 841 3.05 1427
4. Tinder 677 541 2.51 846
5. Srikot 417 339 2.3 513
6. Kalwari 1132 978 1.57 1313
7. Shili 812 618 3.14 1064
8. Suchen 1212 914 3.26 1600
9. Shangurh 618 462 3.38 822
10. Lapah 222 173 2.83 284
11. Sainshar 1606 1183 3.58 2184
12. Garaparli 592 490 2.08 716
13. Raila 512 426 2.00 614
Total 11715 9100   15093

Computed from Census Data 1981 and 1991 for Kullu District.. The social structure of the population in the EDA is given in Table 3. A detail assessment of the socio-economic conditions and the resource dependence on GHNPCA has been studied as part of the WII research component in 1999.

Table 3. Ecodevelopment Area: Change In Biomass Consumption During 1961-1991

Sub Water Shed
No. of
hold, 1961
No of
hold, 1991
Fuel Wood
1961(00 Kg)
Fuel Wood
1991(00 Kg)
%change in
Between 1961-1991
Fodder Consumption 1961 (00kg) Fodder Consumption 1991 (00kg) % change in fodder consumption between 1961-1991
Jiwa sws 512 930 74393 135725 82.44 58522 106299 81.63
Sainj sws 213 350 30948.9 50855 64.33 24346 40005 64.31
Tirthan sws 639 1185 92846.7 172180.5 84.44 73038 135446 85.44
Total 1364 2465 198188.4 358760.5   82941 281750  

The number of households in EDA was increased from 1364 in 1961 to 2465 in 1991 and the fuelwood consumption had also registered 78% increase during this period. Similarly, the fodder consumption had also been increased during this period. The Table 3 describes the biomass consumption in the EDA of GHNPCA. Although it is assumed that consumption of biomass (Fuelwood/Fodder) per household had not been changed substantially in the area, however due to high increase in the total no. of households the total quantities of biomass required by the households had been changed substantially. The fuel wood consumption in the area experienced a significant increase of near about 80%. In other watersheds the Tirthan experienced the highest increase of near about 85%in fodder consumption while Sainj showed the minimum increase of 64% over this period. The fuelwood consumption had been experienced almost similar trend in increase over this period.

The habitation/agriculture/orchard areas in EDA in 1961 and 1993 are shown in Fig. 3 and 4 respectively and the changes occurring are depicted in Fig. 6 and Table 4. There had been an increase of about 9 km2 in the areas under habitation/agriculture/orchard and a decline of about 4 km2 of area during the period 1961 to 1993.

Table 4. ecodevelopment area: population change in eda alongwith areas under habitation/agriculture/orchards

EDA Population1961 EDA Population1991 Name ofWatershed TotalArea Sq.km Change between1961-91 sq.km % Increase Area not CurrentlyUnder cultivationAs used in 1961 % Decrease % Increase Population(1961-91)
3041 2710 Jiwa 23.5 1.16 4.93 .34 1.44 -10.88
1235 2052 Sainj 106.23 2.31 2.17 1.28 1.20 66.15
4155 6953 Tirthan 125.27 5.01 3.99 2.69 2.14 67.34
8431 11715 Total 255.00 8.48 3.7 4.31 1.59 38.95


  • Population change calculated by using census data of 1961 and 1991 of Kullu District.
  • Change detection in area under Habitation/Agriculture/Orchards calculated by using ARC/INFO GIS domain from 1961 SOI sheets .and 1993 FCC IRS IB LISS II Data.
  • The study has been conducted before the award of new area (265.6 km2), for 255 km2.


The above table shows that in the 30 years (1961-91) there had been nearly 9 km2 increase in the area under the Habitation/Agriculture/Orchards in the EDA among the different watersheds. This change was maximum (5km) in Tirthan sub-watershed compare to only (1.16sqkm) in the Jiwanal sub-watershed, However if see in proportion Jiwa had experienced a maximum increase of 4.93% followed by Tirthan (3.99%) and Sainj (2.17%). The table reveals that in this period there had been some area, which was in use in 1961 but was not found in use (visual interpretation) in 1991(1.6%). The table reveals that there had been near about 39% increase in the total population of EDA between 1961 and 1991. Out of this Tirthan had experienced maximum (67%) closely followed by Sainj (66%) Strangely enough the Jiwa watershed area had experienced a negative population; this seemed to be due to heavy out migration from the area.

The unidirectional change (toward forest) in landuse/cover was also observed in the area. The experienced a significant increase of fuel wood consumption of about 80%. Where nearly 85% increase was there in fodder consumption in the Tirthan and Sainj showed about 64% increase over the 30 years. ONCLUSION The negative population was experienced in Jiwa watershed seemed to be because of heavy migration. The 11 forest and six non forest types in EDA shows the rich diversity in the area needs more attention towards conservation strategies and monitoring of the area.

We are tanked to, Director, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun for research support and encouragement. We are grateful to Prof. P.S. Roy, Dr. Sarnam Singh, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) Dehradun and Dr. C. P. Kala, Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Kosi Katarmal, Almora, Uttarnchal for their valuable suggestions. We are thanked to researchers, GIS staff, frontline staff of GHNP Project and Shri C.M.S Adhikari, NRDMS Centre, Almora for carrying out the field studies and desktop assistance respectively.