• Non-ICIMOD publication


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Human-driven disturbances change the vegetation characteristics of temperate forest stands: A case study from Pir Panchal mountain range in Kashmir Himalaya

  • Shiekh Marifatul Haq
  • Eduardo Soares Calixto
  • Irfan Rashid
  • Anzar A. Khuroo
  • Summary

Globally, biodiversity-rich forest ecosystems are facing higher risk of climate and land-use changes. Therefore, understanding the role of anthropogenic factors in affecting forest community composition and vegetation patterns assume urgent research priority and are prerequisites for conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosystems. We used a systematic random sampling method to obtain data on floristic diversity within four forest compartments of Pir Panchal Range in Kashmir Himalaya. We characterized the comparative disturbance levels based on a visual assessment within and around each of the forest compartment. The importance value indices along with environmental data of the sampled compartments were obtained and analyzed using hierarchical cluster analysis and ordination techniques. Floristically, in all the compartments, we found 74 species distributed among 33 families and 4 life forms. The species number per hectare showed a declining trend with an increase in disturbance level. Plant community diversity indices were positively correlated with decreasing levels of anthropogenic disturbances. The phytosociological features such as tree basal area and density were negatively correlated with increasing levels of anthropogenic disturbance. Our study, using standard statistical methods, has empirically characterized the intensity of anthropogenic impacts in each forest compartment, and analyzed the relationship between these impacts and the forest vegetation patterns. Our results will help in a better understanding of the role of anthropogenic factors in affecting forest community composition, which in turn will foster the sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation in this Himalayan region.