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Traditional intramontane mobility in Garhwal Himalaya: A survey of subsistence practices in the Pindar basin, Uttaranchal

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This paper looks at the key resource interactions driving the current trend in intramontane mobility as a traditional subsistence practice in the Garhwal Himalaya region of Uttaranchal, India. For hundreds of years, the natural resource based mid-altitude villages in the Pindar River basin hinged on the annual summer migration to highland pastures. Where self-sufficiency has been obtained through an environmentally embedded tradition of crop and livestock farming, highland forests and alpine pastures continue to provide the human and animal requirements of fuelwood and fodder, as well as the forest products defining traditional diets and cottage industry. The paper reports the data from a rapid appraisal survey of resources obtained by households in selected mid-altitude villages from the seven highland locations that have sustained the centuries-old subsistence culture of the Pindar basin. While livestock have been the crucial link in a forest/fodder–manure–cultivation chain that has necessitated households' dependence on highland pastures and forests, over the last four decades there has been a decline in the numbers engaged in livestock raising and, concomitantly, the annual migration to summer pastures. Instead, there is a trend towards increased cultivation of cash crops and forest resource collection in the traditional highland encampment areas.

Keywords: Garhwal Himalaya; animal husbandry; fodder and fuelwood; montane mobility; off-season vegetable; seasonal migration

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-07-01

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