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Manual The Best of Sal & Al

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In a north—south transect, Hill sal is drier than the Bhabar and Tarai sal. Sal forest's present status is the result of actions and interactions of environmental and biotic factors, and is explained in terms of plant succession theories Champion and Osmaston, ; Troup, The developmental process involves progression and retrogression Figures 3—5. Grazing and fire are prevalent in sal forests, and the extent of their presence affects the successional pathways into progression and retrogression Lehmkuhl, Successional phases of sal forest based on Jacob, ; Champion and Osmaston, ; Troup, ; Maithani et al.

Progression and retrogression of dry sal forest based on Jacob, ; Champion and Osmaston, ; Troup, ; Maithani et al. Progression and retrogression of wet sal forest based on Jacob, ; Champion and Osmaston, ; Troup, ; Maithani et al.

Introduction

Stainton observed stunted pole-like sal trees in open forest area close to densely populated areas in many midland valleys of Nepal, where forests were under heavy pressure of repeated lopping and intense grazing. A phytosociological study Kumar et al. Peninsular India, which extends south from the drainage basin of the Ganges River.

The study showed 20 and 21 tree species in protected and disturbed sites, respectively. It indicated changes in population structure due to disturbances, as seen in the main six tree species in the sub-classes of trees, saplings and seedlings Table Although regeneration density of the six species combined was higher at the disturbed site, tree and sapling densities were higher at the protected site by 63 and 78 per cent, respectively.

Moreover, the disturbed site was devoid of sal saplings, indicating either direct use of these by local people or indirect effects of their activities, e. Fire has long been considered one of the main factors affecting beneficially or injuriously sal stand development see Figures 3—5 depending on the forest type and local situation Jacob, ; Champion and Osmaston, ; Maithani et al. Fire was once considered the only weapon available to foresters for controlling weeds Champion and Osmaston, Controlled burning was also prescribed to eliminate the injurious effect of dead leaves. Burning of leaf litter just before seeding was used to ensure good regeneration Troup, Fire was extensively and intentionally used to promote regeneration and maintain the sal forest as the climax type in wet sal forest regions in India Jacob, Fire did not change the tree layer parameters species composition and density but changed the shrub structure Rodgers et al.

Ground vegetation, including regenerating trees, was modified, and some species disappeared while new ones appeared Raynor, ; Jacob, ; Nair, ; Maithani et al. In all these instances, fire increased the number of herbs and shrubs, especially palatable plants.


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Fire also attracted additional grazing by reducing the height of many palatable shrubs Maithani et al. Eventually, fire and wildlife grazing controlled successional pathways Lehmkuhl, Older trees were resistant to fire, but the wounds from fire in sal trees between 15 and 35 years of age resulted in infection and the trees became prone to heart rot due to fungi Bakshi, Most studies indicated that sal trees can resist fire once they have passed the sapling stage. Controlled burning or grazing is necessary to prevent the wet sal forest from becoming mixed broadleaved forest Figure 5.

Moreover, controlled burning creates opportunities for regeneration of many non-timber forest product NTFP species.

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In several instances, intentional forest fires have been recorded in sal forests normally ignited by the NTFP collectors, harvestors or gatherers. Lopping for fodder and the collection of ground litter have been recorded in sal forests close to settlements Stainton, ; Dinerstein, ; Agrawal et al. Lopping by local people to meet their needs, such as for fodder, animal bedding or compost, reduced the litter on the forest floor. Besides lopping, local people collect ground litter for their use. Only recently, studies Maithani et al. However, ground litter was considered for a long time to pose a mechanical problem in sal forest reproduction and accordingly, removal of dead leaves, by burning or otherwise, was strictly recommended for regeneration establishment Champion and Osmaston, ; Troup, , indicating the importance of lopping and litter in sal forest management, especially on regeneration.

Gautam indicated that lopping and litter removal if wisely managed may not affect growth and regeneration adversely, but, to the contrary, it could contribute positively. Grazing was considered effective in checking the growth of Imperata cylindrica to secure the establishment of sal seedlings Rowntree, , ; Sarkar, Since sal is good fodder Rathore et al.

The detrimental effects of grazing have resulted in soil exhaustion, preventing regeneration in sal forests Lehmkuhl, ; Gupta et al. Stunted trees, absence of regeneration and soil compaction have been taken as evidence of adverse impacts of grazing on sal forests. However, grazing is considered good to control the palatable weeds. Also grazing has been listed as a way to maintain the wet sal forest without turning them to mix broadleaved species. Gautam grouped forest products, as identified by users of two sal forests, into 16 categorisies, such as compost, fibre, fishing tools, fodder, food, farm implements, medicines and ornaments.

These products are gathered from different plants parts, including roots, seeds, bark and leaves. Use of products and preferences vary with ethnic group and availability. Harvesting of these products may have tremendous positive and negative effects on sal forest, but have not yet been investigated. Sal forest is the forest type most affected by development efforts, such as resettlement and developmental infrastructure expansion programmes.

The sal forests are considerably fragmented in all locations. The fringe effects as noted by Stainton are common, and encroachment on such forestland is widespread Gautam, a ; Chakraborty, These instances reflect the accessibility of sal forests and availability of labour forces in sal forest regions.

Besides depending on land resources, people living in and around the sal forests also heavily rely upon the NTFPs from these forests. Forest management efforts need to consider and assess these situations while planning and implementing any sustainable programme. To some extent, community-based forestry programmes e. The availability of work forces may be an opportunity for promoting labour-intensive management, particularly NTFP harvesting and collection within the prescriptions of sal forest management regimes.

Efforts are continuing since the early s to develop appropriate silvicultural systems for sal forest management. Most of these efforts are building on judicious canopy opening to secure regeneration of sal Hole, ; Troup, ; Tewari, Sal forests are managed under both high forest and coppice systems Champion and Griffith, ; Troup, ; Champion and Seth, ; Troup, Selection, clearfelling and shelterwood systems are implemented under the former and simple coppice, coppice with standards, coppice with reserves and selection coppice are followed under the latter.

Improvement fellings, such as singling and thinning, and climber cutting, are sometimes prescribed for sal stand development, focusing mainly on removing less valuable trees HMG, ; Tewari, On the other hand, community-based forestry in this region emerged in response to the severe degradation of forest resources and the persistent conflicts between the interest of people and the government. Local people started protecting the degraded sal forests, and demonstrated the success in improving them by use of coppice systems Gautam, , ; Conroy et al.

While coppice systems are still rarely practised in Nepal's government-managed sal forests, such systems have become popular in community-managed forests in Nepal Tamrakar, ; Tamrakar and Danbury, and joint forest management in India Melkania and Ramnarayan, Although sal forest rotations of — years are conventionally prescribed Leslie, , a coppice-with-standard system is used both in pure and mixed sal forests in the proximity of settlements, and such forests are managed under rotation of 40—60 years for timber, fuelwood, fodder and grazing Tewari, Recently, silvicultural treatment schedules for even- and uneven-aged sal forests were presented for varying management objectives Rautiainen, ; Rautiainen et al.

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Selective felling is mostly practised in sal forests by both community-based and government-owned institutions Rautiainen and Suoheimo, ; Webb and Sah, Community-managed forests consist of all age groups, whereas government-managed forests comprise mainly two age groups — matured trees and newly regenerated seedlings Gautam, Selection felling in inadequately protected government forest may lead to serious degradation, as establishment of new regeneration is poor.

A recent study Gautam, indicated the possibility of integrating multiple products in sal forest management, based on experimentations on lopping and litter removal; the experiment showed no adverse effect on tree growth but increased regeneration in quality and quantity, indicating positive effects on biodiversity. Considering the communities' need and spirit of multiple-product forest management, HMG has made provision for thinning, pruning, cleaning and other forest improvement activities for community forests, including sal forests.

The objectives underlying such silvicultural operations are threefold: The coppice systems allow managing forests with intermittent products NTFPs including fodder and litter while producing timber in the long term. Managing sal forest for multiple products is a relatively recent development with sporadic instances of local management for timber and non-timber forest products.

Multiple-product forest management appears not only desirable but also essential for sustaining sal forests in the region, for both ecological and socio-economic reasons. Implementation of community-based forestry programmes requires a commitment from local communities as well as policy makers towards managing sal forest for multiple products.

Despite the requirements for multiple-product forestry, scientific information is still scanty, and further forest research is needed. Silviculturists are expected to respond to the continually changing demands on existing stands Oliver and Larson, Sal forests, seen historically as timber sources, are to be managed now for multiple products, and this necessitates evolving silvicultural regimes.

Foresters must now increase productivity in quality and quantity through silviculture that is sustainable and protects sal forest biodiversity. It is widely documented that the degradation of sal forests resulted from heavy and haphazard lopping, grazing and fire. The anthropogenic factors may influence edaphic and ecological factors, such as light, drainage, soil nutrient and nutrient cycling. Past efforts, instead of promptly addressing these interlinked issues, focused on enforcing forest laws to stop grazing, lopping, NTFP collection and fire — ignoring the importance of these products to the people living in and close to sal forests.

Ecological processes of sal forest stand development clearly show rich diversity at the ground level, but decreasing diversity with height and ultimately sal dominance at the top canopy.

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Edaphic factors, regeneration, growth characteristics, growth allocations, soil nutrient, nutrient cycling, nitrogen translocation, stand structure and successional structure of sal forests are contributors to the ecological processes. Sal ecology favours a mixture of species at lower level, where many of the NTFPs occur.

It is clear that the ecological processes create opportunies for many NTFPs. Leaf shedding creates opportunities to regenerate many species of ground flora. Leaf nitrogen translocation before leaf fall, for example, could reduce the adverse effect of ground litter removal or ground fire. Ecological issues of sal forest management are related to light opening of the canopy , fire, litter, grazing, lopping and harvesting NTFPs.

All these issues seem interrelated and could be addressed by integrating the multiple products in sal forest management. Regulating lopping, for example, may open the canopy for regeneration establishment, while producing fodder; fodder supply eventually reduces the grazing pressure.

Perennating characteristics of sal could be an opportunity for supplying fodder and small poles. Regulation of litter, which is good for compost, may reduce the fire hazard while promoting seed germination. Likewise, adverse actions by NTFP harvesters could be reduced or avoided by regulating these products through scientific research. Anthropogenic factors are influenced by the livelihoods of the population living in and around sal forests.

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