Climate Change and Socio-Ecological Transformation in High Mountains : an Empirical Study of Garhwal Himalaya
Mountain regions are highly vulnerable to climate change, as they are ecologically fragile, tectonically and seismically active, and geologically sensitive. The main objectives of this study are to examine socio-ecological transformations and to illustrate the major driving forces - climate change, education and waves of modern civilization - in the Garhwal Himalaya. Data on socio-ecological systems and their patterns of change were accumulated from primary and secondary sources and through participatory rural appraisal. We present a case study where household level surveys were conducted in two villages. A total of 37 households were surveyed. Additionally, marginal farmers and extension workers were interviewed. Questions on population, migration, cropping pattern and livestock were answered by the head of the surveyed households. Population size was decreasing due to out-migration. The whole Garhwal region experienced 15.3% out-migration, while migration from the two villages was observed at 50% during the period 1990-2014. Similarly, changes in land use and cropping patterns and in the livestock population were observed. There was a decrease in the extent of land under cereals (24%) and fruits (79%), a decrease in fruit production (75%), and a decrease in the number of livestock (76%). Climate change was observed as a major driver of the decrease in production and productivity of cereals and fruits, leading to land abandonment. Education, on the other hand, was a major driver of out-migration. Further, extreme events through climate change happened more frequently and changed the landscape. This study reveals that an increase in infrastructural facilities to create jobs and sustainable land management can control out-migration and can enhance land capability. (original abstract)
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