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National Mission on Himalayan Studies

Implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC)
Nodal and Serving hub with G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment & Sustainable Development

Project Title:

Timberline and Altitudinal Gradient Ecology of Himalayas, and Human Use Sustenance in


Warming Climate

1. Project Details
Sanction Date: 31-03-2016
Project Category LG
Year 2015-2016
Project Duration 3 Years
BTGs: Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity
Project Site/ State/ Districts/ Villages Covered:

Site I: Areas in the North of the Himalayas (NMHR)

Site II: Areas in the South of MHR (SMHR)

Site III: The third one is monsoonal with moist pre-monsoon, generally above 2000mm, eastern Himalayas, and for this project a Sikkim site is its representative.

Organization/ Implementation Agency: Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA), Nainital, Uttarakhand
Project Partners: S.No. Name Roles & Responsibilities
Department of Botany, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, J&K Plant diversity along the three principal elevation transects; Community structure/ regeneration and seedling age structure/endemism; tree diameter changes; Anthropogenic/Natural disturbance on trees due to Storm/snow/fire; Invasive & alien species
Department of Forestry & Environmental Science, Kumaun University, Nainital, Uttarakhand Soil & tree water potential, Leaf conductance and photosynthesis rate; seed maturity indices and seedling dynamics in timberline
Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Chandrabani, Dehradun, Uttarakhand Influence of micro-climatic variations on herbaceous plant communities through snow removal experiment; grazing; selected structural and functional characteristics of Alpine meadows
4. GBPIHED, Kosi-Katarmal, Almora, Uttarakhand

Collection & analysis of data on temperature lapse rate, precipitation and its components along elevational transects in IHR Plant diversity along two altitudinal transects-Uttarakhand & Sikkim Phenology of important timberline trees N-resorption & nutrient conservation strategy Mapping and a larger picture of Himalayan timberline based on ground truthing; trends of changes.

5. Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany Tree ring studies of selected timberline species (Abies pindrow , Birch, Oak and Krummholz sp. Rhododendron sp.) across IHR to relate past climate variability and tree ring growth; Palyonological studies of surface soil
Lead Proponent: Prof. S.P. Singh
Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA)
Project Brief Description: Understanding environmental changes associated with the high-altitude limit of forests called as timberline has become critical importance because of its high sensitivity to temperature changes and human uses. It is often used as an indicator of climate change. This project therefore involves multidisciplinary activities such as research work (i.e. multi-site study, cross-learning of indigenous practices of timberline use, management by the local communities, etc.) as well as other interventions(i.e.timberline ecotone, measurements of climate and environmental parameters at the three principal sites (J&K, Uttarakhand, Sikkim), field experiments, training to local people, etc.). Furthermore, long-term vision of the project is (i) developing an ecological understanding of Himalayan timberline, its societal implications and management in a warming climate, (ii) building a natural /human capital and culture of research team of young scientists for continuing work on the multi-disciplinary aspects on Himalayan ecosystems.The outcomes of the project will include (i) advancement in interdisciplinary team research, (ii) contribution to vegetation science and tree-soil water relations of timberline, (iii) improved understanding of timberline ecosystem as a special conservation entity and implication to sustainable management and livelihood enhancement, (iv) improved understanding of future changes in timberline vis-a-vis climate change and human uses, (v) awareness and training material/ knowledge products for sustainable use of resources for improved livelihood and (vi) promotion of ‘Citizen Science’ through engagement of community groups. The project falls under the broad thematic group- Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity of the National Mission on Himalayan Studies(NMHS).
Beneficiaries/ Stakeholders: Researchers, Planners/ policy makers/Forest dept./Wildlife Dept./ /National and global environment agencies, Climatologists/ state & central government at regional/ national scale/local people.
Activity Chart (For 3years) Click Here

2. Financial Details
Total Grants (in Rs.) Rs. 6,41,25,200/- (Rupees Six crore forty one lakh twenty five thousand two hundred only)
1st Installment (in Rs.) : Rs.3,02,38,800/-( Rupees. Three crore two lakh thirty eight thousand eight hundred only)
Expenditure (in Rs.)Upto 30.09.2016: Click Here

3. Project Objectives, Deliverables and Monitoring Indicators
Project Objectives Quantifiable Deliverables Monitoring Indicators
To characterize and map timberline zone in the IHR using satellite and ground based observations including smart phone applications Advancement in interdisciplinary team research. Monitoring in comparison to the baseline information to be provided by proponent
To determine the temperature lapse rate (TLR) and pattern of precipitation along altitudinal gradients in different precipitation regimes across the IHR Contribution to vegetation science and tree-soil water relations of timberline. No of long term monitoring sites/ plots established in 3 states (Nos.)
To study plant diversity, community structure, tree diameter changes and natural recruitment pattern along the three principal sites in the IHR Improved understanding of timberline ecosystem as a special conservation entity and implication to sustainable management and livelihood enhancement. Datasets generated (data on taxonomic diversity quantified by species richness, as well as by richness, evenness, diversity, dominance, and rarity at generic and family levels No./ sites).
To understand tree phenological responses, nutrient conservation strategies and tree-water relations in response to warming climate Improved understanding of future changes in timberline vis-a-vis climate change and human uses Publications of knowledge products (No.)
To study relationship between tree ring growth and past climatic changes in different climate regime across IHR Awareness and Training material/ knowledge products for sustainable use of resources for improved livelihood. High resolution digital maps depicting changes in timberline ( Nos. with time series)
To understand the impact of depletion of snow-melt water on growth of tree seedlings, grasslands species composition and selected functional processes Promotion of Citizen Science through engagement of community groups Climate smart conservation models developed (Nos.)
Community groups trained (Nos)
To promote participatory action research (Citizen Science) on innovative interventions to improve livelihoods, women participation in conservation and management of timberline resources. Awareness camps/ programs organized (Nos.)
Human use of timberline ecosystems and its contribution to livelihoods (Nos./ Area)






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