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Understanding the Role of Agriculture Encroachment in Pastoral Resources Degradation in Western Himalaya of Northern Pakistan

Understanding the Role of Agriculture Encroachment in Pastoral Resources Degradation in Western Himalaya of Northern Pakistan

Muhammad Khurshid1,2*, Muhammad Nafees1, Mehmet Somuncu2

1Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Peshawar, 25000, Peshawar, Pakistan; 2Department of Geography, Ankara University, 06100, Sihhiye, Ankara, Turkey.

khurshed75@live.com

ABSTRACT

Pastoral production system remained a central component of mountain subsistence economy in the Hindu Kush- Himalayan (HKH) region of Northern Pakistan. However, the growing trends of crops cultivation in the high mountains of HKH region have largely transformed this subsistence livestock production in to commercial agricultural system and shaped an uncertain environment that is not suitable for both landless nomadic pastoralism and ecological sustainability. This study reflects that how this agriculture encroachment may have contributed to the pastoral resources degradation and subsequent landless pastoralist’s marginalization in uplands of Naran. Extensive field surveys carried out during last three years (2013-2016) to understand crops encroachment process and its implications for pastoral resources. Land use-classes such as forest, agriculture, pastures and snow cover were recorded by means of Global Positioning System (GPS) and further processed to develop maps by using Geographic Information System (GIS). The impacts of agriculture encrachment were determined by means of group discussions, household’s interviews and personel observations. The results showed that crops cultivation occupied 18 % of the bottomlands in Naran valley, where this cultivation is gradually extending towards steeper slopes without any soil conservation measures. The alpine open pastures (45%) is available in deep inside and upper niches of sub-valleys for livestock grazing while 4% of pasture land is degraded due to heavy grazing and is dominantly encroached by non-palatable or poisonous weeds species. Furthermore, this crops encroachment effected the capabilities of pastoral communities to keep large herds containing more livestock for their livelihood dependency. It is concluded that unsustainable crops expansion has triggered pastures resource degradation and is threating the traditional pastoral system in HKH region. Integrated and collaborative approaches are needed for pasture resources management with efficient and sustainable livestock production in Northern Pakistan.

 

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Sarhad Journal of Agriculture

September

Vol. 35, Iss. 3, Pages 663-1019

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