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php Summary And Recommendations

Summary of Findings Research and data assimilation in the four thematic areas have revealed that some data has been collected in the fields of forests, wildlife, water and climate change but it has been spread out among different organizations. Many gaps in data have also been pinpointed into which future data collection and research can be directed. The findings reveal the following: 1.1 Forestry and Rangeland There are five main types of forests in the Northern Areas while under the legal classification there are two main types protected and private forests. The Northern Areas Forest Department has instituted a management system both for the protected and private forests. Various NGOs are also working in the forest sector. These include the AKRSP, IUCN, WWF-Pakistan and BACIP, among others, and activities such as forest and forest nursery plantations, aspects of scientific research on trees and on fuel wood consumption practices are being carried out. The issues identified consist of, but are not confined to, lack of community involvement, insufficient funds for protection of forests, illegal cutting of trees and inadequate supervisory staff. There are two main types of rangelands in the Northern Areas and are faced with issues such as overgrazing, reducing biodiversity and soil erosion. Livestock resources are a big part of the rangelands and data on changes in livestock population shows that it has increased in all categories between 1976-96. This has further increased the burden on rangelands. The livestock has traditionally been managed under three main management systems of pastoral, transhumance and sedentary but there is also a very small scale livestock farming in urban areas. Livestock faces issues like: poor quality of fodder, undernourishment of livestock, inadequate animal health facilities, poor genetic material, rangeland degradation and competition with wildlife. 1.2 Medicinal plants The Northern Areas support a wide variety of plants which have high medicinal and economic value. Some of the valleys, such as Astore, are famous for their medicinal plants and have been exploited for them. WWF-Pakistan, AKRSP, IUCN Pakistan and other NGOs have been attempting to encourage medicinal plant cultivation on bigger scales in many parts of the Northern Areas. But there are certain issues related to this field. One of them is over-exploitation, especially in Astore valley. Others are free grazing and agriculture which decrease the land devoted to medicinal plants, lack of incentives for farmers to switch from profitable cash crops to medicinal crops and lack of proper marketing and transportation channels. 1.3 Wildlife The Northern Areas is quite rich in wild fauna. There is quite a variety in mammals here, fifty four species are recognized, including one endemic (woolly flying squirrel). However, several of the large mammals here are endangered, mainly due to human activities. In the field of avi-fauna, the Northern Areas have one of the most diverse population among mountain regions of the world. About 230 species of birds have been recognized for the region. Some rare species like the lammergeyer and golden eagle also live and breed here. The migratory birds also amount to a good number. In the field of reptiles and amphibians, there are eight families of reptiles and three families of amphibians in the Northern Areas but the variety here is less than in the plains because of the cold climate and rugged terrain. There are also a few endemic species of reptiles and amphibians here. Freshwater fish are also important to the areas biodiversity but the species number is again less due to high turbidity, cold waters and high water speed. Five families of fish with 17 species are reported from this area, including some endemic species. Introduced species like brown trout and Chinese carp have thrived here and compete with indigenous species. Many threats exist to fish populations, almost all from human activities. The available data on insect diversity does not amount to a lot. Recent attempts to document insect biodiversity by the PMNH and University of Oxford and by Abbas et al. are a beginning but the scope of research in this area is immense.

However issues that relate to most wildlife in the Northern Areas include population depletion, pesticide use, weak enforcement of conservation laws, lack of awareness among communities and lack of medical facilities for wildlife. One way to deal with threatened wildlife species in the Northern Areas has been to create protected areas whose main objective is to conserve and protect the populations and habitat of wildlife species. Such areas include national parks, game reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, with varying degrees of protection to wildlife. Other conservation programs include successful trophy hunting initiatives and efforts by national and international organizations to preserve wildlife and its habitat. 1.4 Water Resources Water in the Northern Areas is mainly derived from ice and snow melt, precipitation and springs. Irrigation is essential in the region because of meager precipitation in the valleys. The people of the Northern Areas rely on nallahs fed by glacial and snow melt waters for their drinking and irrigation purposes. Traditionally, systems of user rights and water allocation have been in place to distribute water around villages. These rights are modified to take into account population growth and settlers. This report also found that a shortage of irrigation channels exists in many localities which restricts the area of cultivable land. Where the channel network has been expanded, benefits to the villagers in terms of more area under cultivation, increased livestock herds and improved local diets have been noticed. Thus the need for NGO and government assistance seems imperative for agricultural development in this region. While the irrigation and drinking system has generally met the basic requirements of the villages, the quality of drinking water is of concern. Drinking water has been taken from portions of channels where washing, and human and animal feces have contaminated the water. Studies done by NGOs like WASEP have found very high e-coli content in many village water supply channels. In the past decade or so the AKRSP, WASEP and NAPWD have put in piped water into many villages. Many villagers have reported improved water quality and reduction in stomach disorders and womens workloads after these schemes are installed. But in spite of reduced gastro-intestinal illnesses in some locations, there is still an immense need to improve drinking water quality in the Northern Areas. Maintenance of many of these schemes also remains a problem. In urban areas although water supply schemes have been around since the 1970s, there is still a problem of continuity and quantity of water supplied to the homes, and issues of water quality. Besides the government there are some private entities that provide piped drinking water in urban areas. Other important use of water in the Northern Areas is power generation. The NAPWD constructs hydel schemes throughout the region but there is still a shortfall in supply, especially during the winter when water in streams is reduced. The problem of poor reliability and low wattage means that many people still cannot shift away from using wood for cooking and heating. In towns, many businesses suffer from poor electric supply. Big dam projects initiated by WAPDA are expected to alleviate the situation in future. On the plus side, savings to people in terms of using less kerosene oil and batteries have also been shown to be significant. There remain many threats to water resources in Northern Areas. Pollution from urban effluent, increasing use of chemical fertilizers and greater human and animal wastes due to expanding population constitute the main sources of contamination. Increasing demand in the next decade will mean wise management of water resources if shortages are to be avoided. 1.5 Climate Change The topic of climate change is becoming very important for the country and the Northern Areas would be the scene of many changes if the projected climate change materializes. Some studies have already been done in this regard. Some have examined time series of climate change parameters like temperature and precipitation to detect trends. A vegetation change study found that precipitation has decreased in the Karakorams. Satellite images of glaciers in the region show some of them shrinking, on the other hand, some of them are said to be actually growing in the western Karakorams. Computer modeling of climate

change scenarios assign both increases in temperature and precipitation over the next 50 years. So there is no clear picture. Regarding glacier studies in the Karakoram region, many of have been done by international organizations/researchers and there is no central repository for them, thus they are scattered among various places. Plus, many of these studies have not been done from the point of view of climate change. Hence many more glaciers need to be examined specifically for climate change indicators. Implications of climate change for the country and the Northern Areas are significant. The hydrology of the Indus river and its tributaries can be altered through higher precipitation and/or faster glacier melt, and that would affect the assessment of downstream flood risks and the building of dams. Forest resources would also be affected in the sense that higher temperatures would cause stress in the short term, and force them to move upwards in the long term. Fruit trees in the valleys would be affected too. Other flora and fauna would be stressed, or will migrate in response to these changes.

On the basis of information and data collected during this study, the following recommendations can be made in the fields that were included in the study. 2.1 Forestry and Rangeland Since forestry and rangelands are very important for the Northern Areas, the following actions need to be taken: Reliable figures on forest area coverage and annual change are needed which are very important for proper forest management schemes There is also a paucity of data on the degree of exploitation of timber, fuel wood and other NTFPs and this kind of data should be generated Data on biodiversity in private and protected forests is also important but missing so far from the Northern Areas. Efforts in this direction should be made. Another important area of research is to locate degraded and deforested landscapes which may be suitable for Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) Tourism potential of many forested areas could be exploited but has not been done so far. Research for various forests should be done and appropriate schemes for developing tourism be developed and implemented. Veterinary services in the Northern Areas should be upgraded in order to improve and maintain livestock health. The Karakoram International University in Gilgit should have a well equipped veterinary sciences department. Additionally, the AKRSP effort at livestock vaccination should be duplicated on a larger scale with the involvement of the government. The practice of the Department of Animal Husbandry to vaccinate against common diseases is limited and also needs to be expanded region-wide. o Improved varieties of fodder should be developed that are suited for the different agro-zones of the region because poor quality of fodder is one of the principle constraints on livestock improvement in the Northern Areas. Rangeland management plans in conjunction with local communities should be established and the communities trained in their execution. Data on research and other aspects of forestry and rangelands should be shared more extensively among organizations and government departments related to this sector.

2.2 Medicinal plants Medicinal plants hold a great potential for income generation in Northern Areas and to begin to realize this potential it is recommended that: All potential medicinal plants should be identified and catalogued The status of medicinal plants should be established through proper surveys and the level of threat identified Proper prices and marketing channels for medicinal plants should be created so that local people have greater incentive to grow these plants Companies making herbal medicines and food products should be encouraged to establish research

centers and processing plants in these areas Work done by NGOs in Astore valley should be replicated in other areas The intellectual property rights of local farmers should be examined and rules for their protection executed 2.3 WildlifeWildlife conservation is an integral part of natural resource management in the Northern Areas and the following actions are recommended: Regular wildlife surveys should be done in protected areas so that a comprehensive picture of the status of wildlife in Northern Areas is established and updated on a regular basis. This should also address the debate over the occurrence of certain species in the region. It should also include data on herpeto-fauna and insects. There should be greater dialogue between NGOs/government on the one hand and communities on the other to address the negative effects of livestock over-grazing on wildlife species. Plans should be made for better rangeland management and should be implemented in a participatory manner. The management of existing protected areas should be strengthened and local communities should be taken onboard in these management plans. The approach of incentive measures to conserve biodiversity which has already been initiated by some NGOs in the area, should be expanded and further built upon. The government also needs to adopt this approach and it needs to remove some perverse incentives that lead to biodiversity loss, such as grants for land development in biologically rich areas. Tourism potential of wildlife should be exploited. The government and NGOs should encourage outsiders to come and view big mammals, rare birds and other wildlife species. Such activity could pump additional money into local economies and also help in the preservation of biodiversity. Existing and future data on wildlife should be shared generously among the NGOs, government and communities.

2.4 Water resources For better water management many issues need to be dealt with in the coming years. Some of the recommendations are: Research needs to be done on what the irrigation needs of the region will be in the near future and plan accordingly. This is important because irrigation is the one constraint on developing new agricultural land. Demands of rising population and need for additional income generation from cash crops make it imperative that more land be brought under cropping. In order to determine irrigation needs, data has to be collected on how much land is under irrigated cultivation in the region, how much water is being abstracted from streams and nallahs for irrigation and how much are the water losses from channels. This data then needs to be used in conjunction with projected population increases. There is a need to improve irrigation techniques among farmers. Many of them irrigate farms in a way that wastes water and frequently exceeds the needs of the crops. So work should be done in this regard through education and hands-on demonstrations. Water quality is also an important issue in the Northern Areas and needs to be studied in any natural resource management project. Both urban and rural areas should be targeted for gathering data, identifying sources of pollution and coming up with strategies to deal with the issue. Finally, climate change in the region needs to be studied more systematically and intensively because changes in precipitation and/or temperatures would have significant impacts on river flow rates, flood risk assessments, dam management, on forests and forest management, and on the general ecology of the region. 2.5 Climate change Climate change is projected to take place in the northern hemisphere and some is already taking place, according to many observations and studies. The Northern Areas would be quite vulnerable to such a change. The following is recommended: Research should be conducted systematically and consistently on detecting trends in parameters of climate change such as temperature, precipitation, changes in vegetation or glaciers. Greater emphasis should be placed on gathering higher altitude data on temperatures and precipitation changes because presently there is almost none. Reliability of such data should also be an important consideration when planning for the higher altitudes.

Data on ice and snow conditions in the upper reaches of the mountains, that is, above 15,000 ft, should be gathered in order to get a fuller picture of climate change in the region. The climatic effects of Basha dam should be studied in detail since the construction of this dam will modify the regional climate to a considerable extent through its sheer size and its 40-50 km long lake. Glaciers should be examined in greater detail for advancing or retreating trends and causal connection made with climate change. In this research a section could be devoted to documenting the view of people living around glaciers who could give anecdotal evidence of their movements over the span of their memories. There needs to be greater coordination and data sharing among various organizations and institutions doing climate change research in the Northern Areas, and also with neighboring countries like China, Nepal and India. This would enhance greater uniformity in data collection and methodology and provide for greater input into the interpretation of collected data.