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Wood utilization pattern in Kashmir region, western Himalaya.

Abstract

The remoteness of the Qazi Nag Range in the western Himalayas has resulted in complete dependence of local people on woody plants for socioeconomic development. The present study aimed to evaluate utilization of woody plants in the Kashmir region. Information was collected through questionnaires and interviews during field surveys. A total of 40 tree species belonging to 29 genera and 18 families were recorded, being used locally as fence and fuel, hedging, thatching, roofing, construction, decoration, furniture, and agricultural tool making. The predominant plant families included Pinaceae and Moraceae, with five species each, followed by Fagaceae and Salicaceae, represented by four species each. Twenty- seven species were used as fence, 25 as fuel in the study area, and 14 species were used for agricultural tool formation, fodder, and fruit production. Nine species were used for furniture, eight tree species were recorded with medicinal values, and only four species were used in construction as structure wood. Cedrus deodara, Taxus wallichiana, Juglans regia, Pinus wallichiana, Celtis eriocarpa, and Betuia utilis had multiple uses, being widely used in manufacturing furniture, decoration pieces, and tool handles; in construction; and as fuel, fence, and medicines. J. regia and C. deodara were also used to create artistic decorative masterpieces. Local inhabitants used T. wallichiana, Aesculus indica, J. regia, C. deodara, P. wallichiana, and Quercus species for cooking and heating homes during the winter season.

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Forest ecosystem-based products have always played a key role in life-support systems such as energy requirements, food, fodder, shelter, clothing, and medicine (Murphy et al. 2008). This people-plant relationship contributes a great deal to human welfare. People of rural areas and forest fringe communities in Pakistan obtain their livelihood from forest products (Sher et al. 2010), resulting in continued reliance on natural forest resources. Human--forest interactions have changed as the world undergoes huge human population pressure, which has deteriorated the natural commodities and degraded natural resources. People have traditional knowledge of the relationship between living organisms and their surroundings. It is more necessary than ever to understand and document the socioeconomic services nature provides to human beings (Ahmad and Husain 2008).

Socioeconomic parameters of a society affect the usage of forest resources. Wood is considered one of nature's commodities to man as an energy source, in construction, and in agricultural tool formation (Shah et al. 2007). This stress is manifold in developing countries where the forests experience ruthless cutting of woody species, providing 50 percent of energy sources for cooking and heating homes (Shanley and Luz 2003). Regular unchecked harvesting of woody plants for construction, fuel, and agricultural tool formation has resulted in the decline of natural populations of trees.

Qazi Nag Range was targeted in the present study because the inhabitants had a different socioeconomic status and were involved either in primary economic activities (farmers, hunters, and loggers) or in processing primary activity products as construction workers, dealers/traders, and carpenters. It is a matter of great concern to document the traditional information about woody plants. The aim of the present study was to collect information on timber-yielding plants used in construction, fuel, fence, furniture, and agricultural tool formation from the western Himalayan Qazi Nag Range, Azad Kashmir.

Materials and Methods

The study was performed in rural areas adjoining the Qazi Nag Range, District Hattian, Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The Qazi Nag Range is in the western Himalayan Kashmir region, situated between 34[degrees]15' and 34[degrees]45'N latitude and 73[degrees]45' and 74[degrees]35' E longitude. The altitudinal gradient varies from 1,700 to 3,400 m, with Khara Maru forming its highest peak (Fig. 1). The climate of the area is sub-Mediterranean and receives heavy snowfall during the winter season. In snowy periods, the area remains isolated from the rest of the world. It lacks the basic necessities of life because of its remoteness, which results in a lack of facilities such as roads that give access to a nearby city and alternative sources of fuel and construction materials. The inhabitants use forest products for various purposes such as heating the home, cooking, fences, thatching, construction, furniture, food, fodder, and medicines. This widespread use of plants is attributed to their acceptability, accessibility, affordability, and efficacy.

Ethnobotanical data

Ethnobotanical data were acquired by using a questionnaire with open-ended structured questions. The questionnaires were focused on the locality; sociodemographic details including age, gender, and education; wood use categories; preference ranking of species; vernacular names; and threats to the medicinal plants mentioned. A total of 85 randomly selected households were interviewed in the local language, Hindko and Kashmiri, to facilitate the locals' expression. In each household, persons having maximum ethnobotanical knowledge were selected for interview from each age and education class. The plants recorded in interviews were collected from the forest stands surrounding the surveyed populations through random walks with the help of informants. The collected specimens were transported to the herbarium of the Botany Department, University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, for proper identification with the help of experts and literature available. The plants were allocated accession numbers and were deposited in the herbarium.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Quantitative analysis

The collected data were represented systematically in tabular form. The information such as botanical name, voucher specimen number, and family names were provided for each species. Use value (UV) was calculated by following the formula of Phillips et al. (1994). Informants consensus factor (ICF) and preference ranking (PR) threats were calculated according to Martin (1995) and Alexiades and Sheldon (1996).

Multivariate analyses technique (Principal component analysis [PCA]) was performed by present/absent data against each use category to identify the similarities among the most preferred use categories of the tree species (Hill 1979).

Results

The questionnaire respondents represented a diverse array of people including farmers, government servants, literate, illiterate, young, elders, men, and women. Among the 150 informants, 61 were male and 89 were female. The largest proportion of the respondents was of the elderly, older than 50 years old (48%). More than half of the respondents had primary education or were illiterate (62%). These basic results also reflect the reality that indigenous knowledge is well established but seems to be decreasing in the younger generation (Table 1).

A total of 40 tree species belonging to 29 genera and 18 families were recorded from Qazi Nag Range, Kashmir region, western Himalayas. The predominant plant families were Pinaceae and Moraceae, with five species each, followed by Fagaceae and Salicaceae, represented by four species each. The remaining families were represented by three or fewer species each (Table 2).

UVs were calculated for all the species, and a single use by a single informant was not considered for analysis. The tree species J. regia scored a high UV (1.87), followed by Moms alba (1.45) and Quercus incana (1.42) (Table 2).

The different uses of the tree species were classified into eight categories and the ICF values for each category were obtained. The highest ICF score (ICF = 1) was recorded for Rheus cotonus and was cited by 64 informants. Construction scored the second highest value of ICF (0.98). Cedrus deodara, Pinus wallichiana, Picea smithiana, and Abies pindrow were extensively used in construction (240 citations). It was followed by a 0.95 ICF value, with 166 citations recorded for furniture wood extracted from J. regia, C. deodara, Fraxinus excelsier, Pinus wallichiana, Picea smithiana, and A. pindrow. Comparatively low scores were for fruit and medicine, agricultural tools, fences, and fuel wood (Table 3).

The PR on the degree of threats to trees was conducted using six key respondents. Respondents ranked fuel (23.36%) as the leading threat to the tree species. It was followed by fence (16.79%), fodder (16.06%), agricultural tool formation (15.33%), construction (12.41%), furniture (9.49%), and medicinal (6.57%). Fruit was recorded with no threat to ethnoflora of trees in the investigated area (Table 3).

Woody species were recorded with different usage patterns. Twenty-seven species were used for fencing, 25 species for fuel, 14 for agricultural tool formation, and 14 for fodder and fruit yield in the investigated area. Furniture was prepared from nine species, eight trees were recorded with medicinal values, only four species were used in construction as structure wood, and a single species was recorded as poisonous from the investigated area (Table 2).

A majority of the trees, C. deodarn, Taxus wallichiana, J. regia, Pinus wallichiana, Celtis eriocarpa, and Betula utilis, were found with multiple uses. The local inhabitants protect their crops from animals by fencing the fields. Plant species having branching, thorns, and spines were preferred for fencing. Some of the plants grown permanently around fields were Acacia nilotica and Salix tetrasperma, whereas some were harvested and temporarily placed as a barrier for cattle, wind, and erosion. Fleterogeneous fencing based on multiple species usage was one of the common practices around the crop fields to prevent entry of cows, buffalos, sheep, and goats, etc., in the villages of the Qazi Nag Range.

The most preferred plant species used as fuel for cooking and warmth were A. nilotica, Cedrus deodara, T. wallichiana, Aesculus indica, Celtis eriocarpa, Quercus species, Salix species, and J. regia. Even Pinus wallichiana and Abies pindrow were also used as fuel during fuel wood shortage (Table 2). Plant species were preferred because of their durability and quality of burning.

Agricultural practices are traditional in the study area. Agricultural tools such as ploughs, sticks, sickle handles, knife handles, pulleys, and axe handles were made from plants such as J. regia, C. eriocarpa, B. utilis, Q. incana, Q. dilatata, Q. semecarpifolia, Cotoneaster roseus, Aesculus indica, and Acacia nilotica (Table 2).

In the villages around the Qazi Nag Range, wooden houses were built because of severe winter weather. Abies pindrow, Cedrus deodara, Picea smithiana, and Pinus wallichiana were used in construction.

Wild plants were of great importance for fruits, as 14 trees were recorded for their edible fruit, e.g., M. alba, M. nigra, Celtis eriocarpa, Pyrus peshia, Prunus persica, J. regia, Diospyrus lotus, Ficus palmata, and F. carica.

Acacia nilotica, Acer caesium, A. pictum, Aesculus indica, B. utilis, Celtis eriocarpa, Q. incana, Q. dilatata, and Q. semecarpifolia were used as fodder species during early spring, autumn, and winter seasons.

Cedrus deodara, J. regia, T. wallichiana, Olea cuspidata, M. alba, M. nigra, F. carica, and F. palmata were the tree species with medicinal values recorded in the study area.

The multivariate analysis technique PCA was used to compare the use categories from the data of 40 different tree species to reveal trends in utilization pattern. The first two axes of PCA explained 75 percent of the total variance in the data, which shows statistical strength of the result.

Several important correlations are revealed by PCA. J. regia is represented as an outlier. Cedrus deodara and Pinus wallichiana showed strong correlation with furniture and construction on the x axis. Four species of Quercus were grouped together because of the very same UVs and weightage. The rest of the species having lower UVs were clustered close to each other on the y axis without showing any significant correlation with any specific use (Fig. 2).

Discussion

The whole population of the Qazi Nag Range is dependent on forest resources as it experiences snowfall with a harsh winter season. This lifestyle and housing varied accordingly, consuming a lot of timber wood in construction. Cedar and pine are preferred because of durability of timber in the investigated area. Fuel wood is a dire need of local inhabitants in the investigated area. A majority of the trees were used as fuel depending on their availability. The local community is very selective when choosing plants for fuel wood, because the burning properties varied widely among plants. Wood that bums without smoke or sparking and undergoes an easy and quick burn is considered as good-quality fuel wood. Local inhabitants use T. wallichiana, Aesculus indica, J. regia, Cedrus deodara, Pinus wallichiana, and Quercus species for cooking and heating homes during the winter season. Ruthless and wasteful burning in a traditional way of cooking and heating during cold and snowfall periods may affect the forest ecosystem in ways that may not be immediately visible.

In the higher altitudes, fuel wood is not available easily and is collected from the temperate and subalpine forests. At present, consumption of fuel wood is higher and some of the preferred species such as Rhododendron, Salix grandiflorum, B. utilis, and Juniperus communis face the danger of local extinction. Branches of Aesculus indica, Acer ceasium, A. pictum, and oaks, viz. Q. semecarpifolia, Q. glauca, Q. incana, and Q. dilatata, were collected during autumn and winter seasons to feed livestock. Fodder collection takes place for winter months when there is scarcity of green fodder.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

Free grazing during summer and fodder harvesting before the onset of cold winter to feed livestock is a common practice in the snowy areas. Palatable trees like willows, oak, and aesculus are harvested to feed livestock during winter months when the area remains covered by heavy snowfall. Human settlements, summer pasturing, nomadic herds, and grazing inside the forests are common practices in this area. Migratory grazers use Qazi Nag Range forestland extensively during summer months.

In the investigated area, anthropogenic pressures including heavy grazing coupled with fuel and timber harvesting were the common forest usage patterns as reported by other workers who assessed plant conservation priorities in the Himalaya region (Dickore and Niisser 2000, Pant and Samant 2007, Khan et al. 2011).

doi: 10.13073/FPJ-D-14-00099

Literature Cited

Ahmad, S. S. and S. Z. Husain. 2008. Ethnomedicinal survey of plants from salt range (Kalar Kahar) of Pakistan. Pak. J. Bot. 40(3): 1005-1011

Alexiades, M. N. and J. W. Sheldon. 1996. Selected Guidelines for Ethnobotanical Research: A Field Manual. New York Botanical Garden Press, New York.

Dickore, W. B. and M. Niisser. 2000. Flora of Nanga Parbat (NW Himalaya, Pakistan): An Annotated Inventory of Vascular Plants with Remarks on Vegetation Dynamics. Englera 19. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem and Freie Universitat Berlin, Berlin-Dahlem.

Hill, M. O. 1979. TWINSPAN: A fortan program for arranging mutivariate data in an ordered two way table by classification of the individuals and attributes. Section of Ecology and Systematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

Khan, B., A. Abdulkadir, R. Qureshi, and G. Mustafa. 2011. Medicinal uses of plants by the inhabitants of Khunjerab National Park, Gilgit, Pakistan. Pak. J. Bot. 43(5):2301-2310.

Martin, J. G. 1995. Ethnobotany. A Methods Manual. Chapman and Hall, New York.

Murphy, H. T., D. J. Metcalfe, M. G. Bradford, A. F. Ford, K. E. Galway, T. A. Sydes, and D. J. Westcott. 2008. Recruitment dynamics of invasive species in rainforest habitats following Cyclone Larry. Austr. Ecol. 33:495-502.

Pant, S. and S. S. Samant. 2007. Assessment of plant diversity and prioritization of communities for conservation in Momaula Reserve forest. Appl. Ecol. Environ. Res. 5(2): 123-138.

Phillips, O., A. H. Gentry, C. Reynel, P. Wilkin, and C. Galvez-Durand. 1994. Quantitative ethnobotany and Amazonian conservation. Consent. Biol. 8:225-248.

Shah, G. M., M. A. Khan, M. Hussain, and Z. Jamal. 2007. An ethnobotanical note on fuel wood and timber plant species of Siran Valley, Pakistan. J. Biol. Sci. 7(2):349-353.

Shanley, P. and L. Luz. 2003. The impacts of forest degradation on medicinal plant use and implications for health care in eastern Amazonia. Bioscience 53:573-584.

Sher, H., M. A. Yemeni, and H. Sher. 2010. Forest resource utilization assessment for economic development of a rural community in northern parts of Pakistan. J. Med. Plant Res. 4(12): 1197-1208.

The authors are, respectively, Assistant Professor, Professor, Assistant Professor, and Assistant Professor, Dept, of Botany, Univ. of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan (tariqhabib76@gmail.com [corresponding author], zhmalik51@yahoo.com, ejazdarl@gmail.com, hamayunmaldial@yahoo.com). This paper was received for publication in October 2014. Article no. 14-00099.
Table 1.--Percentage of respondents of different age groups
and genders of the Interviewed people recorded at Qazi Nag
Range.

      Age group   Respondents (no.)        Respondents (%)   Total
No.     (yr)       Male       Female       Male      Female      (%)

1        <25        11           6         7.33       4.00      11.33
2       26-50       23          38         15.33      25.33     40.66
3        >50        27          45         18.00      30.00     48.00
        Total       61          89         40.66      59.33     99.99

Table 2.--Wood species utilization patterns and their use value (UV)
recorded at Qazi Nag Range, western Himalaya. (a)

No.   Botanical name                   Family             Local name

1     Acer caesium Wall, ex Brandis    Aceraceae          Trekana
2     Acer pictum Wall, ex D. Don      Aceraceae          Trekana
3     Rhus chinensis Mill.             Anacardiaceae      Arkhar
4     Alnus nitida (Spach) Endl.       Betulaceae         Sharol
5     Betula utilis D. Don             Betulaceae         Bhuraj
6     Corylus colurna L.               Corylaceae         Umi
7     Diospvrus lotus L.               Ebenaceae          Amlook
8     Bauhinia variegata L.            Fabaceae           Kachnar
9     Dalbergia sissoo Roxb.           Fabaceae           Shisham
10    Quercus dilatata Royle           Fagaceae           Brachar
11    Quercus glauca L.                Fagaceae           Reen
12    Quercus incana Roxb.             Fagaceae           Reen
13    Quercus semeearpifolia Sm.       Fagaceae           Choor
14    Aesculus indica (Wall, ex        Hippocastanaceae   Bankhoor
        Camb.) Hook.f.
15    Juglans regia L.                 Juglandaceae       Akhroot
16    Acacia nilotica (L.) Delile      Juglandaceae       Babool
17    Morns alba L.                    Moraceae           Toot
18    Morns nigra L.                   Moraceae           Shahtoot
19    Broussonetia papyrifera (L.)     Moraceae           Jangli toot
        Vent.
20    Ficus palmata Forssk.            Moraceae           Phagwar
21    Ficus carica L.                  Moraceae           Anjeer
22    Fraxinus excelsior C. B. Clarke  Oleaceae           Som
23    Olea cuspidata Wall, ex DC.      Oleaceae           Kao
24    Rubinia pseudo-acacia L.         Papilionaceae      Kikr
25    Abies pindrow Royle              Pinaceae           Tung
26    Cedrus deodara (Roxb. ex D.      Pinaceae           Deodar
        Don) G. Don
27    Picea smithiana (Wall.) Boiss.   Pinaceae           Chachar
28    Pinus roxburghii Royl. Ex        Pinaceae           Chir
        Benth.
29    Pinus wallichiana A. B. Jackson  Pinaceae           Biar
30    Punica granatum L.               Punicaceae         Annar
31    Prunus padis L.                  Rosaceae           Hari
32    Pyrus pashia Buch.               Rosaceae           Tanchi
33    Prunus persica (L.) Stokes       Rosaceae           Aroo
34    Populus alba L.                  Salicaceae         Safida
35    Populus ciliata L.               Salicaceae         Safida
36    Salix acmophylla Boiss.          Salicaceae         Beensi
37    Salix alba L.                    Salicaceae         Beens
38    Taxus wallichiana (Zucc.)        Taxaceae           Parongi
        Pilger.
39    Celtis eriocarpa Decne.          Ulmaceae           Bremaj
40    Ulmus wallichiana Planchon       Ulmaceae           Mannu

                 Ethnobotanical uses

No.   F   c   A   Fu  Fe  Fr  Fo  M   p    UV    Acc.
                                                  no.

1     -   -   0   0   0   -   0   -   -   0.42    193
2     -   -   0   0   0   -   0   -   -   0.68    194
3     -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   +   0.40    195
4     -   -   -   0   0   0   -   -   -   0.60    196
5     -   -   +   0   -   -   0   -   -   0.74    197
6     1   +   -   +   -   +   -   +   -   1.21    198
7     -   -   -   -   -   +   -   -   -   0.53    199
8     -   -   -   -   0   -   -   -   -   0.07    200
9     -   -   -   -   0   -   -   -   -   0.07    201
10    -   -   +   -   -   -   +   -   -   1.20    202
11    -   -   -   -   +   -   +   -   -   0.72    203
12    -   -   -   +   +   -   +   -   -   1.42    204
13    -   -   +   +   +   -   +   -   -   1.26    205
14    -   -   0   +   -   -   0   -   -   1.22    206
15    +   -   +   0   0   +   -   +   -   1.87    207
16    -   -   -   +   +   -   -   -   -   0.95    208
17    -   -   +   -   -   -   +   0   -   1.45    209
18    -   -   +   -   -   +   +   -   -   1.13    210
19    -   -   -   0   0   -   -   -   -   0.39    211
20    -   -   -   -   0   0   -   +   -   0.95    212
21    -   -   -   -   -   -   -   +   -   0.40    213
22    +   -   0   -   -   -   -   -   -   0.84    214
23    -   -   -   0   0   0   -   +   -   0.74    215
24    -   -   -   1   +   -   0   -   -   1.31    216
25    0   0   -   -   0   -   -   -   -   0.42    217
26    +   +   -   +   -   -   --  0   -   0.91    218
27    0   -   -   -   0   -   -   -   -   0.26    219
28    -   +   -   0   0   -   -   -   -   0.38    220
29    0   +   -   0   0   -   -   -   -   0.89    221
30    -   -   -   -   0   -   0   0   -   1.07    222
31    -   -   -   0   0   -   -   -   -   0.92    223
32    -   -   -   0   0   0   -   -   -   0.76    224
33    -   -   -   0   0   0   -   -   -   0.47    225
34    0   -   -   0   0   -   -   -   -   0.49    226
35    0   -   -   0   0   -   -   -   -   0.38    227
36    -   -   0   0   0   -   -   -   -   0.54    228
37    -   -   0   0   0   -   -   -   -   0.59    229
38    -   -   0   0   0   -   -   +   -   0.98    230
39    -   -   0   0   0   0   0   0   -   0.61    231
40    -   -   0   0   0   -   0   -   -   0.73    232

(a) Acc. = herbarium accession number; F = furniture; C =
construction; A = agricultural tool; Fu = fuel; Fe = fence; Fr =
fruit; Fo = fodder; M = medicinal; P = poisonous; -= not used; 0 =
less important; + = very important.

Table 3.--Informant census factor (ICF), number of species, their use
frequency, and preference ranks (PR) of threats to tree species
recorded from Qazi Nag Range, western Himalaya.

                    No. of use   No. of     % of
Use categories      citations    species   species   Frequency    ICF

Construction           240          5       3.68       18.2      0.98
Furniture              166          9       6.61       12.6      0.95
Fodder                 118         14       10.29      8.93      0.89
Fruit                   96         12       8.82       7.27      0.88
Medicinal               82         11       8.09        6.2      0.88
Agricultural tool      114         16       11.76      8.62      0.87
Fence                  208         30       22.06      15.7      0.86
Fuel                   233         38       27.94      17.6      0.84

                           PR by respondents (a)

Use categories      R1    R2    R3    R4    R5    R6

Construction         3     2     1     0     5     6
Furniture            3     1     1     2     3     4
Fodder               4     3     4     5     4     2
Fruit                0     0     0     0     0     0
Medicinal            4     2     1     0     0     2
Agricultural tool    4     5     3     2     6     1
Fence                3     4     5     3     3     5
Fuel                 6     7     4     3     5     7

                    Total                 PR
Use categories       no.    Percentage   rank

Construction         17       12.41       5th
Furniture            14        9.49       6th
Fodder               22       16.06       3rd
Fruit                 0        0.00       No
Medicinal             9        6.57       7th
Agricultural tool    21       15.33       4th
Fence                23       16.79       2nd
Fuel                 32       23.36       1st

(a) R1 through R6 = six key respondents.
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Author:Habib, Tariq; Malik, Zahid Hussain; Dar, Muhammad Ejaz ul Islam; Shaheen, Hamayun
Publication:Forest Products Journal
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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