Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Himachal Pradesh: The forests of Himachal Pradesh, a storehouse of rich bio-diversity, ecological and social value of environmental services, the uniqueness of the mountain environment, After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948

The earliest known inhabitants of the region were tribals called Dasas. Later, Aryans came and they assimilated in the tribes. In the later centuries, the hill chieftains accepted suzerainty of the Mauryan empire, the Kaushans, the Guptas and Kanuaj rulers. During the Mughal period, the Rajas of the hill states made some mutually agreed arrangements which governed their relations. 

In the 19th century, Ranjit Singh annexed/subjugated many of the states. When the British came, they defeated Gorkhas and entered into treaties with some Rajas and annexed the kingdoms of others. The situation more or less remained unchanged till 1947. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948. With the recognition of Punjab on 1st November, 1966, certain areas belonging to it were also included in Himachal Pradesh. On 25th January, 1971, Himachal Pradesh was made a full-fledged State.

The State is bordered by Jammu & Kashmir on North, Punjab on West and South-West, Haryana on South, Uttar Pradesh on South-East and China on the East.

The Indian State of Himachal Pradesh is a mostly mountainous area, neighboring Tibet and China in the East, the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir in the north and northwest, Punjab, Haryana, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh to the south. It has a geographical area of 55,673 sq. Kms. and a population of 6.1 million people and is located at altitudes ranging from 350 to 7000 meters (1050 ft. to 21000 ft.). Nestled in the Western Himalayas, it has provided refuge and abode to the Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan followers. This majestic, almost mythic terrain is famous for its beauty and serenity.

The forests of Himachal Pradesh (H.P) constitute two-thirds of the state’s geographic area and are crucial to the region’s environmental and economic well-being---a storehouse of rich bio-diversity, vital in preserving the fragile Himalayan eco-system, and a primary livelihood source for its rural population. The ‘forest sector’ encompassing the entire biophysical and environmental components, highly sensitive to the uniqueness of the mountain environment, must place its people at the centre.

Accordingly a new course has been charted to shift forest policy in a way that recognizes the ecological and social value of environmental services as well as its economic values. Tapping environmental services through eco-tourism offers a way to alleviate poverty and enhance livelihood options.
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