Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14:491-510, 2010.
Floristic Diversity and Indigenous Uses of Forest Vegetation of Dabka Watershed in Indian Central Himalaya
Abhay Bahuguna1*, P. C. Phondani1, Vikram S. Negi1, L. S. Rawat1, R. K. Maikhuri1, P. C. Joshi2, and N.S. Bisht3
1G. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Garhwal Unit Srinagar-246174, Post box-92, Uttarakhand, India
2Department of Environmental Sciences Gurukul Kangri University, Haridwar, India
3Department of Botany, HNB Garhwal Central University, BGR Campus Pauri, India
Corresponding Author E-mail: [email protected]
Issued: April 01, 2010
A species check list of flora is presented in and around Dabka watershed, District Nainital of Uttarakhand, together with preliminary Phytosociological data for the major species of communities. A total of 45 tree species, 09 shrubs and 32 species of grasses and herbs recorded. Results of quantitative sampling indicate that Adina cordifolia (IVI 66.26) species dominated in the watershed area. Other important woody associates include Quercus incana (IVI 26.74), Pinus roxburghii (IVI 14.64). The diversity range for tree layer was 3.16 followed by herbs (2.92) and then shrubs (1.84); all of the tree species were contagious distribution. Analysis of use diversity showed that the recorded species provide 8 Different uses to local communities. About 56% of the species are used for more than one use categories. Although some species have multiple uses, the average number of uses per species is three. The uses were placed under three major use categories, which had highest contribution of the total uses. These include food, medicinal and fuel/fodder/timber/ dye etc. use value of species shows that about 38% species use in medicinal purposes, 32% species used for edible purposes and 33% use as various purposes.
The current work provide the baseline floristic and ecological data and documents the structure and composition of vegetation and also collect information about ethno-botanic used to explore the conservation status and folk medicinal knowledge of the surrounding peoples of the study area, for managers planners and policy makers to understand such simple method assessing the biodiversity of any potential area for conservation in any region. The finding suggest that, public awareness and community based management need to be encouraged at all levels in order to overcome the threats; further investigation into nutritional properties of all the species reported; study on the pharmacological attributes would help to understand their medicinal application. Furthermore urgent collection of germplasm from areas under human pressure is recommended.
Keywords: Floristic diversity, Forest vegetation, Indigenous uses, Dabka Watershed, Central Himalaya.
The Himalaya mountain system stretches over 2500 km in length from west to east and 240-340 km wide, covering a total area of about 236000 sq km in India. The area is considered very rich in endemics (Khoshoo, 1992). Human history on this planet will never be completed without a look at the role of plants. A completed record of many thousands of the plant species used by human being during past shows their importance in health, economy, shelter, clothing and food (Rizwana, et. al 2006). Regional floristic survey are required to know the species range, floristic variability and economic value and assess the conservation status of community in any area (Sundriyal, 2003) over last two decades, the species area relations, environmental gradient and natural features, distribution pattern of the specific taxa and bio-geographic region are considered the best criteria for declaring and management the world (Macarthur and Wilson, 1967, Dimond, 1998, Miller and Harvis 1977, Terborgh, 1974, Wilson and Willer 1975, Miller and White, 1980). One of the most critical issues on the national and global agenda is need preserve biodiversity for future generations while trying to understand and document the indigenous knowledge of resource management practices (Nehal et. al, 2004). The concern of biodiversity preservation has highlighted the importance to described vegetation at regional and small scale (Lunt et al, 1987, Lunt, 1990, Brown et al, 1988, Specht, 1981, Frood and Calcler, 1987, Kirkpatrick et al., 1988; Whittaker et al., 1979; Brown and Hopkins, 1983). The modern concept of Ethnobotany was given by Aumeeruddy (1996) according to him, it is the science which studies the relationship between given society and environment and particular, the plant word. So we can say that Ethnobotany is a multi-disciplinary science of Botany, Ecology and Anthropology. There is limited information available about the species composition, variation and ecology of many forest communities in Himalaya in general (Khoshoo, 1992, see compilation in Maikhuri et al., 1998; Dhar et al., 1999). A plant containing active chemical constituents in any part or parts like root, stem, leaves, bark, fruit and seed which produces a definite curing physiological response in the treatment of various ailments in humans and other animals is termed as medicinal plant. The various chemicals work together to reach equilibrium in the body as they do it the plant, and so produce gentle progressive healing within the body tissues (Muhammad et al., 2006). It has been estimated that about 20,000 plant species are used for medicinal purposes throughout the world (W. H. O 2002). The present study provides a floristic check list for a stretch of Dabka River, together with brief floristic diversity and local knowledge/use of vegetation.
The present study carried out in Nainital forest division, in Kotabag Block for study of community composition and plant diversity, which is the part of undulating hills of Kumaun (latitude 29 degree 29 minute 44 second N and longitude 79 degree 20 minute 05 second E) Himalaya in district Nainital of the Uttarakhand state in India. The total area of Dabka watershed is 68 sq km. kilometers (Fig. 1). The Altitude of the study area stretch from 1800 to 2500m asl and slope found between 51 degree to 81 degree. The soil of the watershed varies with the slope and vegetation. The soil of the hill bottom is
Fig. 1- Location Map of Dabka Watershed in Kumoun Region of Central Himalaya, India.
deeper and darker in color. In some area they were fine loamy in texture and richer in organic matter content. The climate of study area is comparatively temperate and humid. The temperature reached up to 36 degree in the month of May to June where as the higher peaks of the area receive forest snow fall in winter season.
The phytosociological analysis of the forest of study area was carried out during the period of January 2007 December 2008 by using 20 20m quadrates for trees. Each quadrate was subdivided into 55 m sample plot for recording shrubs and 11 m for herbs. The quadrates were laid out randomly throughout the study area. The size and the number of quadrates were determined by the species area curve (Misra, 1968) and the running means methods (Kershaw, 1973). Twenty quadrates were randomly placed in the entire area, representing all the vegetation type and localities. In each quadrate, tree were recorded with >31.5 cm cbh (circumference at breast height i.e., 1.37 m above the ground) individually measured. Individuals within the cbh range of 10.5 to 31.4 cm were considered as shrubs + saplings and individuals <10.5 cm cbh were considered as herbs+ seedlings. The vegetation data were quantitative analyzed for abundance, density and frequency according to the formulae given by Curtis and Mc Intosh (1950) and Mishra (1968). The relative values were summed up to represent Important Value Index (IVI) as per Curtis (1959). The distribution of the species was studied using the ration of abundance to frequency if below 0.025 indicates regular distribution; between 0.025- 0.050 indicates random distribution and when exceeds 0.050 indicate contagious distribution (Whitford 1949). The diversity Index (H) was computed by using Shannon-Wiener information Index (Shannon and Wiener, 1963). Ethnobotanical information of local communities was collected using semi-structured and structured questionnaires and schedules. Interviews and group discussion both formal and informal and empirical observations in the fields was carried out. Extensive field visits was made with local herbal practitioners to gather information on the identity and occurrence of medicinal plants and mode of their utilization. Randomly selected households in the study area were surveyed to gather information on quantity of extraction of these medicinal plants from wild. Verification of data was repeated through interviews with more than one informant. The information related to quantity/dosage of medicine prepared from different medicinal plants and prescribed to the patient for particular period of time was obtained from the local medical practitioners (Maikhuri et al., 1998). The plant species collected were maintained in to herbarium specimens, and identify with the help of literature, and taxonomical experts of the Institute/University. Specimens of each species identified were brought to the G.B. Pant Institute (Garhwal Unit) herbarium for scientific identification where they were subsequently deposited.
The detailed characteristics of forest composition carried out, floristic structure and composition of the Dabka watershed is mixed type vegetation. The number of species in trees, herbs, shrubs and sapling indicate that these forest stands are comparatively species rich. Although dominance was shared by a number of species, no single species was found to complete climax stage. A total of 86 species (45 species of trees, 09 species of shrubs and 32 species of herbs) were recorded from the study area.
The dominant and co-dominant tree species were Adina cordifolia and Quercus incana, showing their value of IVI of 66.26 and 26.74 respectively, where as the highest value of density was recorded Quercus incana. The data of abundance frequency ration showed that all tree species showed contagious distribution pattern (table-1). In the shrub layer the highest value of IVI (64.04) was recorded for Rulens eleipicus where as, lowest IVI (14.00) for Utrica urdense. Among the shrubs species Rulens eleipicus showed highest value of density. The lowest value of density was recorded for Utrica urdense (table-2). In the herb layer the highest value of IVI (37.49) was recorded for Viola where as second highest value of IVI recorded (29.72) Dryopteris and highest value of density recorded Viola. Among the 32 species of herbs 27 species shows contagious distribution, 5 species showed random distribution (Table-3). The diversity of the study sites have been described in table-3. The maximum (3.16) value of diversity for tree layer was recorded, followed by herbs (2.92) where as minimum value of species diversity (H) found in shrubs layer (1.84). Rich11ness index is highest in tree layer followed by herbs and then shrubs (Table-4). The number of species in trees, herbs, shrubs and sapling indicate that these forest stands are comparatively species rich. Although dominance was shared by a number of species, no single species was found to complete climax species. On the basis of density, basal cover and important value index, Quercus incana was found to be the most important and dominant species in all the forest stand of Dabka watershed.
Table 1. Phytosociological analysis of tree species.
Ind., number of individuals recorded in plot; ADen., absolute density; RDen., relative density; ADo., absolute dominance;
RDo., relative dominance; AFer., absolute frequency(%); RFer., relative frequency; IVI, important value index.
Table 2- Phytosociological analysis of herb species.
Ind., number of individuals recorded in plot; ADen., absolute density; RDen., relative density;
ADo., absolute dominance; RDo., relative dominance; AFer., absolute frequency(%); RFer.,
relative frequency; IVI, important value index.
Table 3- Phytosociological analysis of shrub species.
Ind., number of individuals recorded in plot; ADen., absolute density; RDen., relative density; ADo.,
absolute dominance; RDo., relative dominance; AFer., absolute frequency(%); RFer., relative
frequency; IVI, important value index.
Among the natural resource of Uttarakhand, forest are the important, both economically and environmentally. The alpine and tropical rainforests that cover most part of the stage make natural habitats of some of the best known wildlife creatures. The Uttarakhand Himalaya is very rich in forest resources and diversity. The plant diversity is found extremely rich from the valley regions to the higher elevation alpine meadows.
India has rich heritage medicines and ethno-pharmacological tradition which has developed into an established scientific faculty dealing in plant-based Medicare, called Ayurveda. India who once depended heavily on wild plants for food and medicinal purpose, are fast losing their traditional wisdom of naturopathy due to change in their culture value system and exposure to modern medicines. The difficulty in procurement of forest plants because of loss of natural vegetation and easier availability of drugs has had a significant effect in molding their attitude into not accepting herbal medicines administered by the Vaidyas (local healers). Economic value of the existing flora is an important consideration for any forested area. Large number person of the hilly area depends on forest resources. They are the vital component to sustaining the life supporting system on earth. There role in ecological balance, environmental stability biodiversity conservation, food security and sustainable development have been widely recognized. Forest are the source of various components i.e. food, fodder, fiber, medicine, tannin, oil, gum and many other things for human benefit (table-). It has been estimated that about 20,000 plant species are used for medicinal purposes throughout the world. According to World Health Organization report (2002), 70% of the world population use medicinal plants for curing diseases through their traditional practitioners. In sub-continent, plant oriented drugs are used extensively and form a very long time. According to a survey conducting by World Health Organization, traditional healers treat 65% patients in Srilanka, 60% in Indonasia, 75% in Nepal, 85 % in Mayanmmar, 80% in India and 90% in Bangladesh.
Table 4- Diversity Index (H) of forest vegetation.
Analysis of use diversity showed that the recorded edibles species provide 8 different uses to local communities. About 56% of the species are used for more than one use categories. Although some species have multiple uses, the average number of uses per species is three. The uses were placed under three major use categories, which had highest contribution of the total uses. These include food, medicinal and fuel/fodder/timber/ dye etc. use value of species shows that about 38% species use in medicinal purposes, 32% species used for edible purposes and 33% use as various purposes (Table-5).
Table 5- Indigenous uses of forest vegetation of Dabka Watershed in Central Himalaya.
Floristic structure and composition of the Dabka watershed is mixed type vegetation. Higher value of the density and high value of basal cover suggest that the Dabka watershed forest stands are younger and mature forest. High tree density suggests that the diversity and luxuriance of these community forest stands may be maintained in healthy state if the extent of biotic pressure is maintained to an optimum limit. The distribution pattern (A/F) ration showed that 43 species among trees, 3 species among shrubs and grasses and 33 species of herbs indicate contagious pattern(>0.05). The important value index values of the particular species in the ecosystem exhibit their dominance in trapping the available resources; higher the value of IVI higher will be the dominance of particular species thereby reflecting the maximum utilization of available resources. Richness index the change in species composition can be affected by positive feedback from nutrient cycling in the eco system (Berendse and Elberse 1990). This positive feedback modifies the environment and makes it more suitable to facilitate natural invasion and long term succession change (Wilson and Agnew, 1992)
It was reported that the open canopy on the site invites more and more species to establish. Between the plants where alteration in soil condition favors their germination and establishment canopy cover was found to be main factor to modify composition of plant species (Tylor, 1989). Low species richness in shrub layers may be due to relatively high developed canopy in this type of forest which does not allowed sufficient light to reach the ground resulting to low growth rate of shrub species. Shrubs and herbs generally not dominant compression to tree richness that clearly indicate that the site is developed. Indigenous practices of rural people of Himalaya for the treatment of different health related problem were found to be effective and most of these are also scientific medicines. However, use of plants for treating other health related problems as practiced by the rural people still need to be explored so that such uses can be popularized among those who are completely unaware about traditional health care system. This suggests a strong need for extension education and training for rural and urban people about the applications and methodologies of their effective health technologies, so that they too can make use of indigenous knowledge for health management. It is also urgent need that indigenous knowledge should be preserved and integrated or blended with scientific knowledge. The current rapid deforestation in the whole country may endanger medicinal plant species which need to be preserved for future use without disturbing the ecosystem.
The result of the study revealed that knowledge about the edibility, habitat destruction and use of most wild edible plant species is still maintained among the study communities. The preservation of this knowledge appears to be the result of continued reliance of local communities, most of the edible plants. The result also reveals that many wild species are under growing pressures from various anthropogenic factors. Thus, public awareness and community based management need to be encouraged at all levels alongside of urgent collection of germplasm. The finding suggest further investigation into nutritional profile and processing method of all the species reported and study of the value addition, pharmacological properties for the nutraceutical species since they are also used for medicinal application.
Therefore, there is an urgent need to conserve the forest resource both macro and molecular level for human and sustainable development of environment, beside that awareness to the villagers is essential how they can develop suitable techniques for sustainable utilization of forest resources.
The authors are thankful to the Director, G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Kosi-Katarmal Almora for providing necessary facilities. We are grateful to Prof. R.D. Gaur and Prof. M.C. Nautiyal for identification of the plant species.
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