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Expert Talk

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By Nawang Palkit, Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Prof. T.H. Masoodi, Associate Director(R&E) HMAARI SKUAST-K Leh: The most valuable part of the universe is our mother earth. Humankind is dependent on nature. We are witnessing a huge change in climate and is degrading slowly. The degradation is solely linked with our ignorance about ecology, antagonism competition among ourselves in developmental activities etc. Hence, its protection from degradation is our duty and responsibility.

SKUAST–K is research institute based in Stakna. We carry several plantation drives in Leh district. There are 60,000 trees of poplar and willow in the campus and this year around 4000 trees are planted in SKUAST-K Leh campus. 

The entire Ladakh region is divided into three agroclimatic zones that are High Altitude area, Farmland, and Pasture area.

In 2014, a study was conducted on economic dependency in Leh district, in which it was shown that 16 % of the populations are depended on agriculture, 8% on horticulture, 10% on forestry, 1% on poultry and 51% on the government and tourism sector. 

About 0.23% area of land is cultivated in Leh district out of which 0.6% of lands are under natural forest. Ladakh region is divided into five agro forestry system such as:
1. Silvicultural system/ multipurpose forestry production system 

2. Silvipastoral system- where Willow and alfalfa is grown in between space

3. Agrisilvi pastoral system- wherein we grow wheat, barley and willow as windbreaker

4. Hotipastoral system – where we cultivate grape, apricot, apple, alfalfa, poplar 

5. Short rotation coppices system- this is the most important plantation system in 
Ladakh, it maintains willow trees in high density and short rotation for timber.

From the year, 1956 to 2013, Forest Department planted 49.5415 lakh of willow and poplar trees in Leh district. In addition, there are numbers of plants which are also planted by local people in their farms.

Hence, numbers of plants grown in Leh region has a great contribution to the environmental condition of the region. These planted trees are adding tonnes of organic carbon to the soil, making soil fertile, capture CO2 from the atmosphere and increase oxygen content.

Ladakh region comes under above tree line and climate changes are the positive sign to Ladakh. Because of climatic change, we may lose some species but simultaneously gain some more species of plants.

The two prominent trees found are willow and poplar. There are 13 species of willows and 4 species of poplar grown in Ladakh region. Common species of willow are Salix Alba, S.excelsa, S.angustifolia, S.pentandra, S. Oxycarpa, S.Flabellaris and S hasta. In poplar, we have Poplar nigra, P. ciliate, P. alba, P. euphratica.

The limitation in the agro-forestry system in Leh district is the limited choice of tree components, ineffective and insufficient research studies for the region, poor research linkage extension because of inaccessibility and connectivity.

A total of 49.5415 lakh of trees are planted in Leh district, however, further studies on its impact on the environment is not done yet. 

•    Creation of gene bank of local biodiversity in respective station.
•    Sustainable and integrated farming system must be adopted by every family to protect the fragile region.

•    Afforestation and increase in animal components.

•    Educated youth must go for agriculture.

•    Bring more area under pasture, vegetable and alfalfa cultivation.

•    Ladakh being closer to the sun, efficient use of solar energy would be highly beneficial.

•    Getting attracted to tourism section more is the biggest threat to Ladakh.

•    Creating environmental awareness.

•    Balancing agriculture and developmental activities.

•    Must control over rural to urban migration.

Mohammad Abass, Divisional Officer Leh: Leh forest division was established in the year 1955,  with an aim to maximise the biomass through afforestation, meeting fuel, fodder and timber needs of local people, soil and water conservation, developing eco-tourism site, preservation of flora and fauna diversity etc.

There are several Government schemes under District Plan, Border area development Programme (BADP) and (CAMPA) under which we carry several plantation drives like community, departmental and institutional plantation, Silva pasture and nursery development. 

According to 2010-11 census, the geographical area of Ladakh region is 82,665 sq. km out of which 10,197 hectares of land is cultivable. 

Ladakh has done wonders in trees plantations. Tree plantation will create a healthy environment to human habitant. Further, it provides various resources to the people and numbers of attempted are being made to protect it. There is an increase in tree plantations compared to past decades.

So far, 800 hectares of the area are covered with willow, poplar, sea buck thorn maryciaria, and rose species. This year Forest department has planted 74,000 trees over 21 hectares of land in Leh district under tree plantation scheme. Under district plan scheme, we planted 34,000 trees, under CAMPA 38,000 and under BADP 2,000 tree are planted. 


•    Conservation of the area is most important to protect our fragile Ladakh. Tree plantation and green pastures play a major role to protect against soil and water erosion.
•    Creating awareness about environmental protection.

•    As soil health cannot retain in short period we must not use chemicals like Urea, DAP, MOP
•    Developmental activities are part of the progress, hence planner must think carefully and created sound policy.

•    Sustainable development is the main solution to protect against continuing problem of pollution, the problem related to nature misbalance, extinction of biodiversity.

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