Evaluating sustainability of Symplocos ramosissima harvest for herder huts
Upper-elevation villagers in Nepal harvest large numbers of 5?10 cm diameter trees to construct itinerant herders' shelters. The harvest of these poles, as well as fuelwood and tree-leaf livestock fodder, may be altering upper-elevation forest structure and resource availability in Nepal. Near a village in west-central Nepal, we evaluated the sustainability of Symplocos ramosissima poles harvested for herders' shelter construction by comparing estimates of harvest and replenishment rates under four scenarios of spatial distribution of harvest within three equal-area forest types: 1) harvest evenly distributed, 2) harvest only in forest type closest to area of hut construction, 3) harvest in two closest forest types,
4) harvest in each forest type proportional to recent use patterns, as deduced from the density of stumps of pole-sized S. ramosissima.
Mean density ± SE of pole-size S. ramosissima was 375 ± 32 stems ha-1. Tree-ring analysis of 24 pole-size S. ramosissima indicated a mean age of 35 years and a mean of 11 years to grow from 5 cm to 10 cm dbh. Comparisons of harvest and replenishment rates suggest that only harvest scenario 1 (even distribution) was sustainable. Harvest scenario 2 (closest forest type) and scenario 3 (two closest forest types) were unsustainable. Harvest scenario 4 (proportional to stump density) was sustainable in the two farther forest types, but unsustainable in the forest type closest to agricultural fields.