Natural Resource Use Pattern in
Western Himalayan Agriculture:
Implications for Biodiversity
Conservation and Sustainable

Jagdish P. Bhati and Wolfgang-Peter Zingel

Published in: P. Pushpangadan, K. Ravi, V Santhosh (eds.): Conservation and Economic Evaluation of Biodiversity (Volume 2). Papers presented at the Indo-British Workshop held at the Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, India in February 1996. New Delhi, Calcutta: Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 1997. pp. 575-588.


Achievement of sustained and equitable development is the main goal of planning. The World Development Strategy (IUCN, 1980) advanced the idea that development and environment must be integrated to 'discharge our responsibilities as trustees of natural resources for the generations to come'. Sustainable Development (SD) as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED, 1987) defined it, is development that 'meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'. A more specific definition focused on the physical aspect of SD stresses using renewable natural resources in a manner that does not eliminate or degrade them or otherwise diminish their renewable usefulness for future generations (Goodland and Ledec, 1987). SD necessitates protecting the natural resources needed for food production and cooking fuels while expanding production to meet the needs of growing populations (WRI, 1992).

Environmental problems are inseparable from those of human welfare and from the process of economic development in general. The Human Development Report 1991 (UNDP, 1991) has added a human dimension to SD by suggesting that development must be woven around people, not people around development, i.e., development must be participatory and must involve local peoples in decisions that affect their lives.

Agriculture, horticulture. animal husbandry and many other economic activities depend simultaneously on both the exploitation and conservation of natural resources. Their competing needs should be balanced to yield the greatest increase in social welfare by optimising environmental improvement and income growth. This is rarely achieved, however. In most of the developing areas in general and the hilly areas in particular, the resources essential to agricultural economic growth are threatened by rapid population growth, extreme poverty loss of biodiversity, pollution of air and water, soil toxicity and erosion, and short-sighted economic policies (Ashish, 1979; Bhati, 1983; Bhati et al., 1992; Bhati and Zingel, 1987; Davis and Schirmer, 1987; Douglass, 1984; Eckholm, 1976; FAO, 1989; Ives and Messerli, 1989; Jodha, 1991; Jodha, 1992; Sachs and Silk, 1990, Shah, 1982; Sharma, Bhati and Singh, 1991; WCED, 1987). Therefore, SD has emerged as a key issue in agricultural development planning. Agricultural production systems can be sustainable if they are maintained without damage to regenerative capacity and diversity of natural resources. Dependence on natural resources and biodiversity for maintaining essential ecological processes and life-support systems is crucial (McNeely et al., 1990; WRI/IUCN/UNEP, 1992; Solbrig, 1993; Holdgate and Giovannini, 1994; Miller, 1994).

Because the threat to biologically diversity is now great, there is increased public awareness of the serious implications of humanity's depletion of biodiversity. The current quest for ecologically sound agricultural systems and alternative development approaches has implications for biodiversity.

Physical features (such as temperature, rainfall, soil moisture, relief etc.) affect biodiversity. Biodiversity affects and is being affected by socioeconomlc conditions and production systems of a region (Woodwell, 1989). Since factors affecting biodiversity and agricultural production vary over space and there is great diversity of agricultural systems in different agroclimatic zones, regional/microlevel studies play an important role in making the concept of sustainability with biodiversity conservation'. location-specific and operational. Therefore, going beyond the rhetoric of biodiversity conservation will require identification of local factors that promote growth but affect biodiversity and sustainability of the resources in a region adversely and to find solutions -- corrective and preventive measures for nullifying the impact of these factors in a location-specific situation. This may involve adopting development paths which do not impair development in future, by conserving the biodiversity and natural resource base. Keeping this point in view, the present regional study examines the biodiversity situation in Himachal Pradesh state -- a subzone of the resource fragile Western Himalayan region of India. The study is based on data obtained from Statistical Outline of Himachal Pradesh (ESD, 1966) and from our project on Agricultural Transformation and Ecological Sustainability in the Western Himalaya.


Biodiversity refers to all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems and ecological processes of which they are parts (Odum, 1971). Biological diversity includes both the number and frequency of ecosystems, species or genes in a given assembly. lt includes genetic diversity of species, species diversity in a farming System and ecosystem diversity of a landscape (e.g. cropland, grassland, woodland) (Odum 1971; OTA, 1987).

Diversity is basically a measure of variety in ecological communities. Species diversity for a community is a function of the number of different species present, the number of individuals per species, the total number of individuals of all species in that community, the severity of the physical circumstances to which life forms can adjust and the size and topography of the environment (McNaughton and Wolf, 1972--73; Ehrlich and Wilson 1991; Odum, 1971; Wilson, 1988). Not only too little of an essential material may be a limiting factor for growth of an organism as proposed by Liebig's law of the minimum, but also too much of certain factors as pointed out by Shelford's law of tolerance. Organisms have an ecological minimum and maximum with respect to certain factors affecting their growth which represent the limits of tolerance (Odum, 1971). For a sound programme of biodiversity conservation we must discover these weak links and find those conditions which are critical or limiting to various species of plants and animals. Thus microbes, plants, animals, biotic communities and ecosystems show different levels of sensitivity and can be successfully employed as ecological indicators to assess the environmental changes in a timely manner. In order to assess and predict ecological changes caused by human activities, effective and reliable monitoring systems using bioindicators are required.

Today, scientists have only a very rudimentary knowledge of the biodiversity of many regions. Another serious problem is that we do not understand exactly how the diversity of genes, genotypes, species and communities influences the ecosystem function. A comprehensive, rigorous and general theory of biodiversity is lacking. Demonstration of immediate risks of harm to health or productivity due to loss of biological diversity is difficult and is constrained by the current paucity of knowledge. Monitoring identified species reveals only part of the threat to biodiversity, since in many ecosystems only some species have been catalogued. These risks, however, could increase and become more evident.

Since its inception, agriculture has involved intervention and modification of natural ecological systems. The ways in which agriculture can affect natural systems are extremely complicated and, in many respects, still not well understood. Inevitably the discussion is selective. This study examines visible indicators of reduced biodiversity and unsustainability of agriculture reflected by:

a) poor soil regenerative capacity, b) poor productivity or carrying capacity and c) biotic impoverishment, i.e., growth of undesirable bioresource base. lt makes no attempt to be comprehensive in its discussion of biological diversity, however. Rather it seeks to identify the most serious challenges to the conservation of biodiversity in the region and suggests strategies for addressing them. The study results are discussed under six headings: 1) Population growth, extensive farming and loss of biodiversity; 2) reduction in genetic and species diversity on arable lands; 3) increased use of toxic chemicals and loss of biodiversity; 4) increased barren land and loss of biodiversity; 5) decreased pasture area and loss of biodiversity; and 6) increased stress on forests and loss of biodiversity.


One of the major ecologic influences of man has been to simplify the ecosystems. Agriculture, in the applied management of food chains, fosters simplified systems and reduces food chains to their simplest terms. Thus man plows the grassland, eliminating a hundred species of native herbs and grasses, which he replaces with pure stands of maize, wheat, or barley. This increases efficiency, productivity and yield, but it also increases ecologic vulnerability and instability. The landscape diversity is reduced.

Conversion of wildlife habitat and rural landscapes to agricultural use has been extensive in recent years. Government has encouraged this by legalising common property resources (CPR) encroachments. The loss of habitat, combined with rising levels of toxic pesticides used in agriculture which may pollute surface waters and soils, has a devastating effect on wildlife and biodiversity of the area.

The population in Himachal Pradesh grew at the annual rate of 2.37% during 1971-81 and at 1.94% during 1981-91 whereas the net sown area of the state increased from 535,107 ha to 583,600 ha, i.e., at the rate of 0.4% per annum during this period. The rural people in the hills largely depend on agriculture. Population increment coupled with acute poverty forces cultivation of marginal sloping lands appropriate only to perennial crops (such as tree crops and grasses) for annual crops, particularly food crops. The soil cannot sustain these for long, resulting in increased soil erosion and reduction in soil fertility on the hillside itself and floods and water pollution in lowlands.

Increased landslides, evidence of land degradation and per capita reduced availability of arable land are indicators of agricultural unsustainability (Bhati, 1983; Jodha, 1992; Mellor, 1988; Vosti et al., 1991).

The majority of peasants are pressed to the diminishing margins of soil and society. Population growth further cuts into peasant holdings. Generations of dividing land among heirs has left mere patches of soil to family members. Of the total landholdings 42% are less than 0.5 ha in size and 22% are 0.5 to 1.0 ha, which means 64% peasants are marginal farmers in Himachal Pradesh. The majority of them would be living in abject poverty if not supported by CPR and non-farm activities.

Rural environmental problems and poverty are intertwined and require a joint solution (Mellor, 1988; Vosti et al., 1991). Government should discourage cultivation of marginal lands to stop their process of soil erosion and bioresource degradation. To relieve population pressure on land resources, creation of off-farm employment opportunities must be combined with increasing crop output per unit of land in the high potential agricultural areas (e.g. in valley areas and permanently terraced fields) through environmentally sound cultivation practices.


Analysis of changes in the cropping pattern in Himachal Pradesh revealed that during the period 1970--90 the area under fruit crops registered an increase of 6% per annum, followed by wheat (1.5%), vegetables (1.31%), maize (1.19%) and spices (1.07%). On the other hand, the area under non-green revolution crops--pulses, barley, paddy and oilseed--decreased at the annual rates of 3.90, 1.47, 0.57 and 0.12% respectively (Dahiya et al., 1991).

Further, farms with commercial/market-oriented farming systems (based on vegetables or fruits), grow fewer crops (i.e., crop diversity is lower) and devote much less area to mixed crops compared to the traditional farming system. Mixed crops account for 66% of the total cropped area in traditional type farms while no area is devoted to mixed crops in commercial farms. Many traditional crop varieties were also dropped from cultivation with the advent of the Green Revolution and commercial farming, which prompted use of a limited number of highyielding varieties (Bhati et al., 1992).

The loss of crop varieties, although less publicised than the loss of wild species, has severe implications for food security. Not only is genetic diversity declining on farms, but many of the areas that are home to the wild relatives of food crops are also under serious threat. Domesticated varieties are also under threat as a result of the homogenisation caused by demand for uniform varieties. This has implications for crop breeders who need a diversity of crop varieties in order to breed new varieties that resist evolving pests and diseases.

This means that while farmers in the high-value vegetable and fruit-growing areas have prospered, biodiversity has suffered and declined. Agricultural simplification of natural ecosystems is economically necessary and justifiable in human terms provided the costs of such changes are not too high in terms of environmental destruction (Bojo et al., 1990; Evanson, 1991; McNeely, 1988; Pearse and Turner, 1990). We must also recognise the secondary costs resulting from biotic community instability and vulnerability to natural disasters when any agricultural system oversimplifies its community structure to a major extent. Increased problems of wind and water erosion, flooding, insect outbreaks and disease epidemics must therefore be considered in evaluating the total costs of agricultural oversimplification and biodiversity reduction.


A new and powerful human threat to species diversity is the release of toxic chemicals and pesticides and herbicides into the atmosphere, soil, lakes and rivers. With increase in intensive cropping and the adoption of new varieties of commercial crops, such as vegetables and fruits, the nutrient exhaustion from soils has increased, necessitating application of high doses of chemical fertilisers to obtain remunerative yields. On the vegetable-dominated and apple fruit-based farming. On the vegetable-dominated and apple fruit-based farming systems of Himachal Pradesh, farmers used 295 kg and 318 kg of chemical fertiliser nutrients (N + P205 + K2 0) per ha respectively. On the other hand in the traditional mixed farming system only 9 kg of chemical fertiliser nutrients were used per ha. Since soil weakens under intensive cultivation of the same crops year a after year, in the absence of heavy doses of chemical fertilisers the production

of vegetable and other new crops would become risky and unsustainable. But in the long run acidification of soils caused by continuous overapplication of acidifying fertilisers also reduces productivity and adversely affects the beneficial organisms present in the soil.

Build-up of crop diseases and pests also makes the agricultural System unsustainable (FAO, 1989). In the highly commercial and/or monoculture farming areas, due to reduction in crop diversity and replacement of traditional diseaseresistant crop varieties by a few exotic varieties and due to practising the same annual crop cycle year after year, incidences of crop diseases and attack by insects/pests have increased, thereby necessitating the use of insecticides, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals in a big way. The expenditure on plant protection chemicals was worth Rs. 2689 and Rs. 422 per ha respectively in the fruit-based and vegetable-based farming systems of Himachal Pradesh. The use of plant protection material in the traditional farming system was worth Rs. 3 per ha only. In the absence of adequate plant protection measures, the yields and profitability of fruits and vegetable-based farming systems would become very low and uncertain.

Artificial chemicals have an effect on organism. Broadly, this usually involves pesticide and insecticide application but fertiliser may also have an effect. There are many ways in which organisms may be affected and, in many cases, they may not be the direct target of the pesticide application. Secondary effects on organisms result from changes (eradication of some members of the chain) in their food chain. lt has effects on birds and mammals (wildlife) also because their food and water sources are polluted. Guarding against soil toxicity is also important. The nature and condition of the soil profile obviously have a major influence on the biotic community living within it and vice versa.

To encourage and sustain the high level use of chemicals for plant protection, the government is providing subsidies at the rate of 25% and 50% on insecticides and fungicides respectively. The State government mainly encourage short-term solutions to replenish soil nutrients by providing 40% subsidy on fertilisers while incentives for soil and water conservation and for land development are lacking. To increase soil fertility and humus content of the soil, use of crop residues, organic manure, and crop rotation combining deep-rooted crops with shallow-rooted crops and involving leguminous crops, should be encouraged (IRRI, 1992). Land levelling, bench terracing and contour banding reduce soil erosion and washing of soil nutrients from sloping fields.

Integrated pest management, ecofriendly pesticides and bio-fertilisers should be encouraged. Naturally occurring populations of some of the parasitic organisms who feed on some insects/pests help control the latter. Research on such factors of pest management would reduce insecticide applications needed to control the pest. Instead of using weedicide, application of organic mulches, as already practised by some farmers to control weed and reduce evaporative water loss, should be popularised. Subsidies on toxic chemicals should be withdrawn to discourage their excessive use.


Degrading the quality of soil slowly through nutrient exhaustion and toxic pollution is deplorable because firstly it reduces the productive capacity of the land and if continued, ultimately makes it totally unfit for cultivation. Conversion of arable land into barren land is frightening because the process is largely irreversible.

The concept of sustainable agriculture propounds that farming practices can and should be designed to maintain an optimal yield indefinitely, i.e., maintaining the land's carrying capacity (FAO, 1989). Loss of soil nutrients and decline in soil fertility over time bring elements of unsustainability into the agricultural production System (Eckholm, 1976).

Due to unsound cultivation practices and ploughing on the fragile sloping lands during 1966--199 1 the proportion of total geographic area of the state under the category of 'barren and uncultivable land' increased from 3.76% in 1966 to 5.68% by 1991. Hence the proportion of land under vegetative cover has been reduced, thereby biodiversity is reduced and the landscape has changed adversely. The future natural bioregenerative capacity of the land (which has become barren) has likewise been reduced.

Peasants try to wrench the greatest yield from already deficient soil. What does a poor peasant do? He starts working what little land he does have year after year without leaving it fallow to recuperate. Soon the land does not produce and becomes barren. The soil is gone; without rest, soil loses the shallow seam of organic matter that contains crop-feeding nutrients and its ability to hold rainwater and resist erosion is reduced.

The structural base of the entire biotic community, of course, is the soil. lt supplies the fundamental reservoir of nutrients and water. lt is both an aquifer and a basic food bank. The top soil consists of living roots of plants, the mycelia of fungi, a great abundance of bacteria, protozoa, algae, and other micro-organisms and a variety of burrowing animals. lt also consists of dead and decaying organic material of plant and animal organic undergoing decomposition in the process of humus formation.

Soil resources faced heavy pressure during the past half century because the population doubled. As a result, soil conditions declined rapidly and 5.68% of the state's vegetated soils became degraded to the point that their original biotic functions are damaged, and reclamation may be costly or in some cases impossible. Nevertheless, there is urgent need for wasteland development and barren land rehabilitation in the state.


Livestock constitutes a very important component in the rural economy of fragile resource regions of the country. Though the importance of livestock to rural households needs no emphasis, the desirability of having such a large livestock population is questionable, particularly when the quality of most livestock is poor due to undernourishment and inferior breed, and the animals are mainly dependent on scarce pasture resources.

The sources of fodder availability are: (i) agricultural crop residues, (ii) agricultural green fodder, (iii) grass and grazing, and (iv) tree leaf fodder. Fodder produced and consumed depends upon edaphoclimatic factors, cropping pattern, areas available for grazing and grass production, and type of livestock. Cattle and buffaloes depend on grazing and harvested grass and tree leaf fodder supplemented by fodder produced on cultivated areas. Sheep and goats are normally maintained on grazing. Grazing and harvested grass constitute the main fodder for donkeys, ponies, mutes etc.

Pastures and grasslands are under three types of ownership: (i) private grassland, (ii) community grassland and (iii) government-owned grasslands. Private grasslands are comparatively better protected and well managed. Community and government-owned grasslands offer several problems in management. Most of these lands are encroached upon by individuals. Further, these grass-lands are in a severely degraded state, grass production is negligible and the areas are mainly used as exercise grounds for animals.

Two main operations on pastures and grazing land are: grazing and hay-cutting. Grasslands are an important breeding habitat for many species of birds and mammals. The area under pasture in Himachal Pradesh is declining, which adversely affects biodiversity. The proportion of grazing and pasturelands in the total geographic area of Himachal Pradesh was 40% in 1966, which fell to 36% by 1991. The reduction was due to conversion of pastures for fruit and food crop cultivation and some areas became barren due to overgrazing and neglect. While the area under pastures was decreasing, the number of grazing animals was increasing. During the period 1972--92 the population of cattle, buffaloes, sheep and goats increased at the annual rate of 0.2%, 1.8% and 0.6% respectively. Overgrazing by livestock decreases vegetation, exposing the soil to water and wind erosion. In addition, livestock trample young plants and compact the soil, reducing its capacity to retain moisture.

Some plants are graze resistant, i.e., they are not eaten by cattle and often flourish in pastures where competitors (grazed plants) are removed by grazing cattle. Highly numerous thorny bushes in pastures are indicators of overgrazing. Intensity of grazing exerts a major control on ecological conditions. Grazing animals affect plant vigour and thus competitive processes by defoliation, thereby exerting a negative influence on nutrient cycling. Animal behaviour is influenced by palatability of the sward.

Grasslands need to be improved for Optimum production; they must have full ground cover to provide a sustained yield of fodder grasses. Important steps for improving grasslands include: (i) regulating the number of animals and practising controlled grazing well within the carrying capacity of these lands; (ii) soil and water conservation; (iii) introduction of improved species and leguminous fodder grasses; (iv) application of manure and fertilisers; (v) control of obnoxious weeds and (vi) planting of fodder trees.

Government policies resulted in Government pasture resource degradation in two ways: firstly, by allowing use of these resources at almost free or very nominal subsidised rates, and secondly, by increasing livestock activity of marginal farmers and landless labourers by providing 50% subsidy for purchase of animals which totally depend on common property resources (CPR) for fodder. Instead of animals some other non-land-based assets should be provided to the poor on subsidy. In fact, efforts should be made to reduce the number and improve the quality of livestock on all farms.


Tropical forests are richer in species than any other terrestrial habitat. Tropical forests are important not only as the home to myriad plant and animal species, and as the source of valuable products, but also because they support diverse human cultures (Janzen, 1980).

Issues of forests, climate change and biodiversity overlap; their convergence point is the forest's dual role as habitat and carbon sink. Preserving forests thus contributes to both climate stability and biodiversity goals (WRI, 1992). Forests provide shelter and sanctuary for wildlife and they play an important role in the ecology of watersheds. The strength of native forests lies in their biological diversity--a fundamental principle of durability and prosperity. Loss of forests results in severe ecological and economic costs -- lost watershed protection, local climate change, reduced supply of timber, fuelwood, fodder, fruits, etc., and also affects people's lives.

Reduction in the number and quality of trees and shrubs and change in botanic composition of forests are strong indicators of unsustainable use of these renewable natural resources. Any activity of a farming system whose demand for forest products exceeds their replenished level of supply per unit area per unit of time, is not sustainable in the long run and thus is undesirable. In the short run that activity may survive on the stock of past accumulated forest biomass hut it cannot be replenished in the short run because most tree species require a long time to mature for harvest.

Since data about the reduction in number, quality and diversity of trees in forests is not available, we have drawn inferences from the tendency of their accelerated excess demand against the fixed or dwindling supply. Studies have shown that there is heavy dependence of Himachal Pradesh farmers on forests (Bhati et al., 1992; Sharma et al., 1989, 1991). Some forest products in Himachal Pradesh are obtained at subsidised rates (such as wood for packing boxes for fruits and vegetables) and others collected free or obtained on a nominal fee by the farmers (e.g. grazing of animals, lopping of trees for fodder, fuelwood and staking material). Forest trees near villages are the most severely lopped. Since private costs and social costs differ markedly, overexploitation and socially inefficient use of CPR forests, is inevitable.

The levels of dependence of farmers on CPR forests and pastures are shown in Table 1. Money values of the products obtained from CPR and owned resources have been imputed at local market rates. Results reveal that commercial crop production is a heavy burden on forest-based imputes especially from CPR. Compared to the traditional mixed farming system, the requirements of forest-based inputs (obtained from owned farm forestry and/or from common property forest and pasturelands) on fruit-based and vegetable-based farming systems was 9.0 and 1.6 times more respectively. Furthermore, in the traditional farming System reliance was more on owned resources as only 22% input was obtained from CPR. On the other hand, in the case of vegetable-based and fruit-based farming systems, dependence on CPR for forest-based inputs was 69% and 96% respectively.

According to one estimate for Himachal Pradesh, the demand for wood for fruit and vegetable packing boxes in 1981 was 2 lakh cubic metres while the yearly increase in wood fit for packing boxes (through biomass regeneration) was only 1.2 lakh cubic metres (Swarup and Sikka, 1983). This gap between demand and supply is constantly increasing due to increment in area under fruits and vegetables and concomitant decrease in forest plantation. The actual forest area has declined due to encroachment by farmers and government distribution of CPR land to landless under the 'land to the landless' programme.

Managing forests is far more difficult in the tropics than in the temperate zones where only a handful of species normally coexist. Forest management in the tropics cannot be done on a continual basis without degrading the intricate parquetry of species. Managing forests requires long-term planning. In contrast to cereal grains, which are planted and harvested on an annual cycle, trees take a long time to mature. The manager must decide not only how to maximize yields on a given amount of land and when to harvest and replant, but also establish a delicate balance among the various possible uses of forests (timber, fuelwood, fodder, etc.). Establishing the proper balance requires application of the 'multiple-use sustained yield' principle and local people's active participation in decision-making and management.

Table 1. Per farm annual imputed value of inputs obtained from farm forestry (owned trees and grassland) and CPR in different farming systems of Himachal Pradesh, 1991 (in Rupees) 

Farming systems and their components requiring input

Inputs obtained from:

Per cent

share in total

Farm Forestry CPR Total
I. Mixed Farming System:

a) Livestock
b) Cereal crops
c) Vegetable crops
d) Fruit crops    















II. Veg.-based Farming System:

a) Livestock
b) Cereal crops
c) Vegetable crops
d) Fruit crops















III. Fruit-based Farming System:
a) Livestock

b) Fruit crops









Total 1162

In general, sustained yield means the rate of harvest of some cornmodity that can be taken from a resource System while maintaining the system in some given condition. In other words, we want to harvest the annual growth or interest without impacting on the capital or growing stock of the system. Maximum sustained yield is then the maximum rate of growth of interest we can hope to receive from the capital without reducing the latter.

Wildlife is a valuable non-timber forest product. Species found in the Western Himalaya indicate a rich biodiversity. Their numbers and diversity are dependent on the abundance of their habitat, which is directly related to forest protection practices.

lt is forests, after all, that harbour not only unsurpassed natural beauty, but also millions of living organisms. Locked up in the intricate 'biodiversity' of the Himalayan woodlands are species that may provide biological pest controls not lethal to man and other animals, medicaments and new food substances.


The study reveals that large and growing population, extensive nature of agriculture, adoption of monoculture commercial crops, excess use of chemicals and fertilisers, soil erosion and land destruction, overgrazing of pastures, and increased stress on forest resources are creating loss of biological diversity in the Western Himalayan region of India. On the basis of the factors identified to be affecting biodiversity, the following policies are suggested for environmental conservation and reducing pressures on fragile resources and natural habitats:

In a nutshell, efficient management and relieving excessive pressures on natural resources are essential for preserving biological diversity. Policies that promote income growth, poverty alleviation and environmental improvement, are needed. In addition to bioecological factors, there is need to consider the social, economic and political aspects of the problems of biodiversity. As the Global Biodiversity strategy (WRI/IUCN/UNEP, 1992) has pointed out, the desired future is one where the entire landscape is being managed to conserve biodiversity, and where biological resources are used sustainably for the benefit of current and future generations.


Authors are thankful to the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for providing a financial grant to support this study. Discussions with Dr. N.S. Jodha were very much helpful in preparing this paper.


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