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People and Plants applied ethnobotany project at Ayubia National Park (ANP), Pakistan

by Yildiz Aumeeruddy-Thomas

People and Plants Co-ordinator, Himalayas Programme
Institut de Botanique
Laboratoire de Botanique
163, rue Auguste Broussonnet
34090 Montpellier
France

Fax (33) 467 04 18 70
E-Mail : yildiz@isem.univ-montp2.fr

Introduction to the site

Ayubia National Park is located three hours drive north of Islamabad in the Galliat Hills (North West Frontier Province). It was declared a national park in 1984 with the aims of preserving its beautiful landscapes, forests and biodiversity for scientific research, education and recreation. The average altitude is 2300 m (maximum 3000 m at Mukspuri Top). The initial area of the park was 1684 ha, expanded through a northern extension in 1998 to make a total of 3312 ha. The park supports one of the best remaining examples of moist Himalayan temperate forest in Pakistan and is surrounded by seven major villages and three small towns (Nathiagali, Ayubia and Khanspur). On the basis of a 1988 census and an estimated growth rate of 3.3%, it is estimated that there are 18,097 people in 2311 households living around the periphery of the park. Most of these people depend on the natural resources of the park for their livelihoods.

A general description of the geography and demography of the villages in which the People and Plants project has been undertaken follows. The villages of Malachh (683 households/4,510 inhabitants, source: 1988 census) and Pasala (1300 households/10,000 inhabitants, source: local) are located on the western side of the park and inhabitants from these villages go to the small towns of Nathiagali and Dunga Gali for bazaars; villages in Khanspur area (2,069 households/11,453 inhabitants, 1988 census) are located in the southern part of the park and people in that area go to the bazaar in Khanspur. Lahur Kas (225 households, source: local) is a remote village located on the eastern edge of the park accessible only by small paths in addition to a poor tract accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles and which links it to the small town of Berote. Habitations in Malachh and Pasala are scattered and distributed among a number of sub-villages, Kalaban, Kanisan, Bata, Jaswara and Ser (Malachh), Toheedabad and Kundla (Pasala), whereas habitations in sub-villages of Khanspur e.g. Darwaza, Mominabad, Riala and Ramkot, are grouped closer together. The distance of sub-villages to the National Park is variable (1-3 kms) and villages and sub-villages lie either on the main road or at a close walking distance (half an hour walk) from it, with the exception of Lakur Kas as previously mentioned.

The main bazaars, Nathiagali, Khanspur and Ayubia form a concentrated nucleus of market places, shops, hotels and summer houses. The best represented ethnic groups in the region in terms of numbers are Karalls and Abassis. Villages are formed of a mixture of these two ethnic groups and other minor groups such as Gujars, Syed and Rajput. Local tourists visit the region primarily from May to October. Most people from Khanspur (Mominabad, Riala, Ramkot and Darwaza) migrate to Rawalpindi, Murree and Abottabad during the winter season (November to April) for business reasons. Most people from other villages remain in place during the winter. The literacy rate is very low, specially among women. Higher secondary school is not available to girls and only two schools are available to boys. Electricity is available in almost all villages as well as community water pipes. Apart from villages in Khanspur that rely mostly on Light Petroleum Gas (LPG) and kerosene for cooking and heating, all other villages use firewood as the main source of fuel. People rely on agriculture, livestock rearing and natural resources (fodder, fuelwood, wild vegetables and fungi) as an economic base. In addition most men have seasonal (summer) jobs with revenues which vary from 1000 – 5000Rs (20 – 100 $US) per month. A measure of the cost of living is given by the price of main staples: rice (30 - 35 Rs/kg or 0.6 - 0.7 $US) and potatoes (12-14 Rs/kg or 0.24 – 0.28 $US).

The villages are surrounded by terraced agricultural land located mostly on valley bottoms. Grassland and forest occur on steeper slopes and are proportionally more extensive. Most forest outside the park is gazetted as either Reserved Forest (in which the local people have no legal rights of use) or Guzara Forest (which is owned by individuals or communities). Ayubia National Park is a Reserved Forest as well as a park. Guzara Forest can be used by its individual or communal owners for various purposes - such as to graze livestock and collect deadwood and grass for fodder, but the cutting of timber, in particular conifers, remains under the control of the Forest Department. Some areas designated legally as Reserved or Guzara Forest have been degraded through illegal harvest and mismanagement of trees and other processes, and are now either grasslands or wastelands.

Most if not all of the vegetation in and around Ayubia National Park is heavily influenced by the action of humans. The vegetation of the park, which is fairly well preserved in places, is dominated by coniferous species, principally Pinus wallichiana (pine) and Abies pindrow (fir), with scattered individuals of broad-leaved trees, such as Aesculus indica, Quercus dilatata (oak), Prunus padus and Ulmus wallichiana. Undoubtedly, populations of broad-leaved trees have declined over the years as a result of human activities (see further on) and those of conifers such as Pinus have increased proportionately. Today, Pinus wallichiana is much the commonest tree species in the park, with Abies pindrow on higher altitude north-facing slopes.

Ayubia National Park is a major recreation area visited by large numbers of local tourists, mostly from Islamabad and Abottabad. No official figures are available, but local estimates suggest that there are about 100,000 visitors per year. Numerous hotels and summer-houses are located on the periphery of the park in Nathiagali, Ayubia and Khanspur. The park administration has developed a fairly good system of infrastructure to serve the tourists, many of whom walk along a well-demarcated level path that follows a pipeline. In this way they may cross the park from Dunga Gali to Ayubia.

It is strictly forbidden to extract natural products from the park, but in practice many local villagers depend on the collection of firewood and fodder (arborescent and herbaceous) from within its boundaries. Collectors are almost all women. Apart from collection by villagers, firewood from the park is also gathered for use by hotels and summer-houses. Other products such as wild fungi and vegetables are also extracted from the park.

 

Conservation and development issues

Processes inducing deforestation at Ayubia are similar to those observed generally in the Himalayan foothills of Pakistan. All Himalayan forests are important for water catchment. At ANP, it is particularly critical because it serves as one of the sources of water to the major irrigated farming area of the Punjab plain and, through small reservoirs and a pipeline to the large settlement of Murree situated a few kilometres down-slope. Common leopard and numerous bird species are found in Ayubia National Park. Some of the bird species pass through the park on migration. The population of the Koklass Pheasant (Pucrasia macrolopha) and the rare Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelana) are the highest known for Pakistan. Only 30 individuals of the Kalij Pheasant are known to exist in the park. Pheasant breeding may be impeded by disturbance from collectors of morelles, since breeding and fungus collecting seasons coincide (April-May). Nationally rare or endangered tree species include Taxus wallichiana and Ulmus wallichiana. There are several important medicinal plants (e.g. Paeonia emodi, Podophyllum emodi and Valeriana wallichii) which are restricted locally to the park.

The park and its environs provide plant resources critical to the lives of the local villagers. Except for winter, women from most households embark on daily or even twice-daily firewood and fodder collection trips to the park and often have to walk many kilometers. There are many conflicts between local women and the staff of the Wildlife and Forest Departments, who are too few in numbers to enforce park regulations adequately. Although many plant resources are available in larger quantities inside the Park than in surrounding areas, many of these resources are disappearing as a result of poor management. Populations of some tree species have been decimated and many are not regenerating. Reserved and Guzara forests are dominated almost entirely by pines, with some fir at higher altitudes especially on north-facing slopes. The cutting of these conifers is legally restricted wherever they occur, helping to preserve them. Strong official interest is lacking for other tree species and there are either no or unclear rules governing control and access to the remaining plant resources. As a consequence most plant resources tend to be collected opportunistically without any management. Trees of greatest interest to the villagers as sources of firewood and fodder, such as Quercus dilatata, Taxus wallichiana and Ulmus wallichiana, have disappeared completely from Guzara forests. One critical social issue is that women - while being the main collectors of natural resources - are poorly represented in decision-making processes. Decisions regarding official access to resources, tree planting and the cutting of timber are largely made by men.

Some aspects of local knowledge related to plant resources have become eroded, possibly due to the proximity of several cities (1 hour drive from Abottabad, 3 hours from Islamabad) and because the villages are ethnically diverse as a result of past immigration. Only a few old people have detailed knowledge of the uses of plants as medicines. Links between people and certain aspects of their natural surroundings are therefore weak, diminishing the incentive for conservation. The general lack of knowledge about medicinal plants is unfortunate from the health-care point of view, given the poor provision of government-supported health services in the region.

A serious impediment to development at Ayubia is the shortage of fertile agricultural land (largely restricted to valley bottoms). Planting of trees outside the park for fodder or firewood is constrained by poorly defined regimes of land tenure and resource ownership, and a disparity in influence between those who are most directly concerned with wild plant resources (women) and those who make official decisions (men). Although pines grow quite well, it would probably be a mistake to promote their further use or planting by the villagers for firewood, given that ownership of the grown trees would likely be disputed by the Forest Department.

In summary, cultivated land and associated plant resources are private (except for pines), the National Park and Reserved Forests are the exclusive properties of the State (which has insufficient resources to ensure good management) and Guzara Forest has a complex system of tenure.

Ethnobotanical approaches and methods

(1) Establishment of the project

The promotion of applied ethnobotany under the People and Plants project in Pakistan began with a training workshop organised by the UNESCO/ICIMOD component of the initiative in September 1996 at Islamabad. Major national issues relating to community-based plant conservation and training were identified (Shinwari et al. 1996). WWF Pakistan then selected ANP as a site for a practical project. The reasons ANP was chosen are: it is an important site for Himalayan temperate forest; conservation issues at ANP are held to be representative of those found elsewhere in the Himalayan forest zone, and ANP is close to several major cities, facilitating the use of the site for national-level training. Planning of on-site activities was realized after discussions with community representatives, local NGOs and officers of the Wildlife and Forest Departments (Aumeeruddy 1996).

In the field, ethnobotanical work began in March 1997, and was inaugurated by the appointment of a Project Officer (Abdullah Ayaz), one Scientific Officer (Ms Iram Ashraf), one trainee botanist (Mr. Aneel Gilani) and two field assistants (Ms Sabiha and Mr Gul Kitab). A sociologist (Hasrat Jabeen) and another trainee botanist (Asma Jabeen) joined the project respectively in November 1997 and during the following year of the project. The project team was selected deliberately to include a maximum of specialists and local people, the former from several disciplines - botany, forestry and sociology. Some of the trainees have since conducted research towards masters-level degrees. Technical support has been provided by the Conservation Director of WWF Pakistan (Ashiq Ahmad Khan) and the Regional and Programme Coordinators of People and Plants (Yildiz Aumeeruddy, Alan Hamilton).

The programme of ethnobotanical work was devised on the basis of the following considerations: (1) the involvement of communities in park and forest management is poorly developed at the official level in Pakistan; (2) ethnobotany applied to conservation and development is a relatively new subject in Pakistan; (3) gender issues are important and involving women in planning the use and management of natural resources represents a major challenge; and (4) consideration of regimes of land tenure and resource ownership needs to be given greater prominence when making decisions of how best to manage the environment, not only at ANP but more widely in Pakistan.

Given the considerable challenges confronting the project at ANP, it was thought best to focus the project initially on: (1) providing a good base of factual information relating to patterns of plant use (questions to be answered included who is using plant resources and for what purposes? which plant resources? what are the impacts of use, regimes of tenure and decision-making processes?; (2) creating an atmosphere of trust between project workers and communities as it was noted that local people are highly sensitive to the project because it deals with their often illegal use of plants; and (3) encouraging better communication between communities and government agencies.

A field office was established on site to facilitate the involvement of project staff with local people and officials. Collaboration has been further promoted through the establishment of a Project Advisory Committee, with representatives of local communities and NGOs, and staff from the Wildlife and Forest Departments. This Committee meets regularly to advise on project activities. Local advisory committees were established in villages.

In addition to work at the local level, the project site was used for national training courses in applied ethnobotany, both as a case study and so that the project could benefit from pertinent experiences from elsewhere (Aumeeruddy et al. 1998).

(2) Activities and results, March-October 1997

Baseline information was collected to assess: (1) overall patterns of activities relating to the use of plant resources, with a focus on firewood, fodder and women’s related knowledge - subjects identified from the start as critical; (2) formal and informal regimes of tenure over natural resources (both land and plants); (3) the interests of various local actors and potential conflicts; and (4) the status of the vegetation (composition, regeneration capacity), the impacts of extraction of firewood and fodder, and grazing and trampling. Training was provided to an MSc student studying medicinal plants. A national-level training workshop was conducted and was attended by 25 participants. Additionally, lectures were given in local schools, an ethnobotanical trail was established along the path used by most visitors to the park, and pamphlets and a sticker were designed and distributed. An informal meeting to discuss policy was held in October 1997 with senior officials, including the Commissioner for Hazara, the Forest Department Secretary and members of the Natural Resources Conservation Project, Galiat (NRCP). The NRCP is a government-backed social forestry project in the region. One of its objectives is to establish systems of joint forest management.

Methods used included formal and informal individual and group discussions, a questionnaire survey conducted in three villages (Malachh, Pasala and Mominabad) and observations and measurements of the vegetation. Plots (20 x 20 m) were established at sites in the park to record tree species presence, densities, heights and diameters, levels of damage and reactions to damage. Smaller plots (10 x 10 m) were established to record the number of tree seedlings, and species of shrubs and herbs. Yet smaller plots (1 x 1 m) were used to estimate cover/abundance of ground cover species.

Results confirmed that firewood and fodder (arborescent and herbaceous) are collected in the park. Large quantities of herbaceous fodder are collected in the park between June and September. There was no indication that the collection of herbaceous fodder inside the park in itself constituted a major conservation issue. Fodder is also collected from open areas outside the park, including from strips of uncultivated land between agricultural fields. Stems of maize and wheat provide additional fodder stored for winter use. Goats are grazed in wastelands and Guzara forests outside the park (goats are not released into the park because of fear of predation by leopards). Villagers take oxen into the park for free-range grazing during the summer months, an activity which is believed to contribute to the poor regeneration of broad-leaved trees.

Firewood is mostly collected from the park and although deadwood is preferred, many live branches are cut and some young trees felled (Ayaz 1998). The collection of firewood and tree fodder was found to deleteriously affect the regeneration of some tree species. It is normal for collectors to make informal payments to park staff for rights to collect. Small quantities of firewood are also collected outside the park, mostly by pruning branches from conifers (especially Pinus wallichiana) growing in Reserved and Guzara Forest.

Other items collected from the park include fungi (morelles – Morchella sp.), medicinal plants and wild vegetables. Local people highly prize fungi because their sale commands a good price. They are dried and sold for export to Europe. Some timber is cut illegally within the park, though this is likely to be by influential outsiders rather than by ordinary villagers.

Trees outside the park are sometimes ring-barked causing them to die - a practice apparently designed to increase supplies of dead trees, which can be purchased more cheaply from the Forest Department than live trees. It is also done sometimes to increase the area available for pasture or cultivation. Many plant resources, including deadwood, broad-leaved trees, many species of medicinal plants and morelles are absent or uncommon outside the park in Guzara forests, related to the constant pressure on these resources imposed by a virtual absence of management.

Broad-leaved trees are planted or preserved among the terraced fields. These include some fruit trees (e.g. apple, walnut, apricot), but fodder trees such as Quercus and Ulmus, as well as shrubs e.g. Indigofera sp. are quite abundant in some villages. Fodder trees present in villages have probably originated principally from wildings that have been preserved. There is little regeneration, probably because tree seedlings are quickly eaten by livestock, which are allowed free access to the agricultural fields after the harvest.

It was clear that alternatives to firewood and tree fodder, as currently collected, needed to be found. Planting of trees among the fields cannot be a major part of the solution, since the areas available are small and in any case trees are already being grown in these places for other purposes (principally for fruit). The conclusion was that additional supplies of firewood and tree fodder as a substitute for that now collected in the park would have to come from Guzara Forest. For this to work, there will need to be better management of Guzara Forest. In turn, this will require a reform of systems of tenure and plant resource ownership in Guzara Forest, something which would need to be accepted by both communities and government. An unresolved issue from the first phase of activities was the extent to which fungi collectors are disturbing pheasant breeding habits. The policy-level meeting in October 1997 proved helpful in confirming the general direction of the project. It was emphasized that pertinent and reliable data would be required to aid the government in a review of its policies.

(3) Activities and results, October 1997-October 1998

Based on the preliminary results of the first period of work, the approach of the project during its next phase was geared to providing additional data useful for the establishment of an envisaged pilot scheme for the greater involvement of communities in the management of plant resources. The intention was to form a group of resource users, preference being given to a small number of neighbouring households (i.e. those with women belonging to a particular fodder, firewood collecting group). This group would be assigned use rights to manage a particular area of Guzara for firewood and tree fodder. Included in this would be certain rights of access to grass fodder and other produce within defined areas of the park. Another aspect of the scheme was that the user group should be provided with subsidized firewood by the government if they were not legally allowed to collect deadwood from the park.

Using this model, five broad themes were chosen for the collection of more detailed information: firewood and fodder demands and supplies, associated damage levels to trees, social structures, decision-making processes, and formal and informal methods of licensing and fining.

Another questionnaire survey was designed and conducted this time geared towards assessing firewood utilisation. Five houses in Malachh, five in Pasala and four in Khanspur/Mominabad were sampled. This survey was conducted by Asma Jabeen (botanist) from 22 October to 17 December 1997. In parallel, she also conducted field surveys to assess amounts of firewood stored by these same households. The firewood survey was initiated to determine the amounts and types of wood collected by women, the types of wood preferred (species; live/dead), places of collection, calendar of collection, duration of collecting visits and methods of storage. Once winter set in, the survey was discontinued until the following spring because of heavy snow which made the site inaccessible. In spring the survey recommenced and included 40 more households in Malachh, Pasala and Lahur Kas (villages of Khanspur area use LPG, hence surveys were discontinued in that region). Also 21 hotels at Dunga Gali, Nathiagali, Ayubia, Khanspur and Kooza Gali and 20 summer houses at Nathiagali, Ayubia and Dunga Gali were surveyed. The spring survey on fuelwood was conducted by Hazrat Jabeen

Another questionnaire survey relating to fodder utilisation and agricultural activities was also conducted by Asma Jabeen in 22 October to 17 December 1997, and a total of 24 households were surveyed (10 in Malachh, 10 in Pasala and 4 in Khanspur/Mominabad). The study of agricultural activities aimed at defining farm size, crops grown, fodder grasses grown or growing wild, livestock composition and tree species cultivated or preserved. With respect to fodder, both the questionnaire and on farm field assessment aimed at determining the weight and volume of grass and maize stacks stored, and number of local measuring units in the stacks. This survey also enquired about trees, herbs, grasses and shrubs collected by the women in forests (National Park or other), collecting sites, timing and seasonality. The questionnaire survey on fodder and agricultural activities was completed by Asma Jabeen in spring. Several questions were added respecting veterinary diseases and their cure and local soil classifications in relation to agricultural and use patterns.

In addition to questionnaire surveys on fodder and firewood as well as field work on farm in winter, in spring Asma and Hasrat Jabeen accompanied local women on firewood/fodder collecting trips within the park. 11 trips were conducted with nine groups of women (total of 91 women) from the villages of Malachh, Pasala and Lahur Kas. These trips were undertaken to assess patterns of collection and included observations of size and composition of women’s collecting groups, collecting zones (topography, relative size, dominant vegetation), time of collecting, species and amounts collected, collecting techniques and relative amounts of each species in headloads. In the field, weight was assessed by assignment of headloads into weight categories, and estimation of relative amounts of deadwood (fallen or taken from standing trees) and green wood in bundles. Summer-houses and hotels were visited by Hazrat Jabeen to interview owners and managers about firewood use. The firewood stores of the hotels and summer-houses were examined, species determined as far as possible and length and diameter of stored wood were measured. Upon return to the women’s homes, fodder headloads were weighed and tree species were sorted to determine relative amounts collected of each.

Biomass studies of grass and herbs were conducted. Five plots were established in various types of fodder growing regions within the park and one plot in Guzara Forest, to measure herbaceous production over the growing season. 4x4m2 exclosure plots were established and sub-divided into 2x2m2 plots. Each sub-quadrat was collected successively once every month from June to September. Species were separated and only the three most abundant species weighed, of which 5 grams fresh weight was oven dried to obtain dry matter content. It should be noted that the trainee was to have measured the fresh weight of the whole sample before separating species, but this was not done due to a misunderstanding regarding the method.

To measure damage levels to trees, three species were selected for observation, Cedrus deodara, Quercus dilatata and Taxus wallichiana. The former was chosen because it was believed to be a prized timber tree and the others because they are valued both for fuelwood and fodder. Surveys were conducted by Abdullah Ayaz along belt transects extending 5 m on either side of trails, and the occurrence and sizes of the three species were recorded, as well as levels of damage. Data from the firewood and fodder study allowed identification of the collecting sites and species used by particular villages thus providing a method of cross-checking results obtained in the damage level survey.

Regarding social structures and decision making processes, information was obtained through informal discussion, backed up by a questionnaire survey conducted by Hasrat Jabeen that sampled 40 families from Malachh, Pasala and Lahur Kas.

The delicate subject of informal systems of fining was broached through informal discussions with collectors.

Results

Firewood

The surveys confirmed that most households use locally collected firewood, the majority of which is gathered in the park. Among the four villages (Malachh, Pasala, Khanspur, Lahur Kas) upon which the survey was based, there was considerably less dependency on local firewood at Khanspur than the other three. This is due in part because farms tend to be larger at Khanspur and many people are resident only during the summer months. In contrast, land-holdings at Malachh and Pasala are typically smaller and most people are full-time residents. Moreover, most people in Khanspur use gas as their main source of fuel.

Women prefer deadwood, but cut live branches or small trees if deadwood is scarce. Deadwood is held in higher esteem partly because it is relatively light. Pinus wallichiana (pine) and Abies pindrow (fir) are the most abundantly collected species. Pine is preferred over fir and is overall the most frequently collected. However when women are collecting on higher altitude north-facing slopes, where fir is most common, fir can be predominately gathered over pine. Analysis of firewood bundles revealed that Quercus diletata (oak) and Taxus wallichiana (yew) are rarely collected, despite: (1) the presence of these species at many collection sites (oak present at 5 out of 11 sites and yew present at 7 out of 11 sites) and (2) both being recognised as excellent firewood species. Only one group, which was from Malachh, was found to have collected oak and only two groups (one each from Malachh and Pasala) to have collected yew. The reasons why these trees are seldomly collected include: the rarity of deadwood of oak and yew, and a reluctance on the part of collectors to cut or damage live specimens of these species for firewood as they are highly prized for fodder. There is evidence that women manage oak on a rotational basis for fodder, leaving some individuals to recover for up to 10 years before re-harvest, a practice that demonstrates their interest in maintaining this natural resource-base.

Collection groups for firewood and fodder are formed mainly on the basis of proximity. Women within a group are not necessarily bound by family ties, even though houses are often clustered according to family ties. Group sizes vary between 3 and 40, the larger tending to be formed when houses lie at a greater distance from the park. Both the questionnaire and field observations showed that altogether women from Pasala together exploit twice as many collecting sites in the park as do those from Malachh. This may relate to the fact that Pasala is a more scattered settlement, covering a larger area, thus women tend to be more spread out initially and then probably select places closest to them.

Preliminary observations at Lahur Kas, a remote village (therefore also possibly more heavily dependant upon park resources) noted that one women’s collecting group had felled a living tree of Quercus incana (a lower altitude oak). This unusual practice might be partly explained by the isolation of this village coupled with a more open attitude of guards to the 'selling' of trees from the park. Villagers from Lahur Kas were found to sell firewood from the park to people from the small town of Berote, a practice not recorded at the other villages studied.

The average weight of wood found to be stored per household during the period mid-June to mid-September was 2,385 kg. Families use an average of 19.8 kg of wood per day in summer and 42.2 kg in winter. Assuming 150 days of winter and 215 days of summer, average annual consumption is calculated to be 10, 587 kg.

Although some summer-houses and hotels were found to be using firewood illegally collected from the park, their overall levels of use are relatively low, especially given that they are fewer numerically as compared with the number of village households.

Fodder

The calendar of forest harvest is as follows. During early spring, before the grass has grown, women rely mostly on tree fodder from the park. Herbaceous plants in the park (and some tree fodder) form the main fodder resource between June and September (also the time of maximum firewood collection in the park). The sites used for harvesting fodder are similar to those used for firewood collection. Grasses are harvested from the margins of agricultural fields and from Rackhan areas of Guzara Forest from September to October. The term Rakhan is complex and has to do with some areas of Guzara Forest, the land status of which is unclear. As part of the project, we will investigate the history and status of Rakhan lands. The fodder grasses together with maize and wheat stalks, gathered after the grain is harvested, are stored and used during the winter. Many families need to purchase additional fodder for use over the winter months, the average purchases varying from 3,480 Rps (69.60 US$) for families with more than 10 kanals (6,050m2) of lands, 3733 Rps (74.70 US$) for families with 5-10 kanals (3,025-6,050m2) to 5,300 Rps (106 US$) for those with less than 5 kanals.

Fodder is stored for winter in piles known as Gharas. The size of Gharas may vary considerably, grass Gharas have volumes of 13 to 24 m3 and maize Gharas 17 to 47 m 3. This great variation makes the calculation of total fodder stored per household difficult.

Women prefer grass over non-graminiferous species of herbs, but measurements of fodder productivity in the plots within the park showed that herbs dominate in mass over grasses. Women gather herbaceous forest species by harvesting with small sickles. They deliberately select patches where grass is more abundant, but inevitably many herbs are collected inadvertently. One reason for grass preference is because it is lighter (laboratory measurements made by Asma Jabeen confirm that grasses have significantly lower water contents than do typical herbs). It is thought significant that the single productivity plot placed in Guzara Forest (in a Rakhan area) has a much higher relative abundance of grass over herbs compared with any of the plots in the park; furthermore, the dominant grass species differ. The sole example of Rakhan studied for biomass was privately owned and managed deliberately for fodder production. Unlike within the park where the harvesting of herbaceous fodder is effectively unmanaged, with continuous harvesting over the growing season and with apparent "competitive" collection between harvesters, grass in Rakhan areas is harvested only at the end of the growing season.

The discovery that in places at least, Guzara Forest is being effectively managed for fodder production has important implications. First, it indicates that fodder production in the park could be increased in quantity and quality if effective management is introduced. Second, the existence of effective management of one plant resource in Guzara Forest (i.e.grass fodder) raises the possibility that effective schemes for the planting and management of trees for firewood and fodder might be possible through village institutions.

Asma Jabeen recorded 33 species of grasses and herbs in fodder headloads collected in the park. Commonly collected grasses in the park belong to the genera: Poa, Agrostis, Bromus, Chrysopogon, Arthraxon, Festuca and Panicum. Grass species currently represent 70 to 80% of headloads collected from ANP. Some seven species of grass are commonly used for fodder in the Rakhan and homestead area. These are Aristida funiculata and Apluda mutica, and others belonging to the genera: Digitaria, Poa, Panicum, Alopecurus and Festuca. Farmers report that the production of crops (and hence crop fodder) has been decreasing over recent years, the causes reportedly being an increased prevalence of disease, reduced soil fertility, poor seed quality and attacks by monkeys. From March to October, tree fodder species collected from the park are Quercus dilatata, Taxus wallichiana, Quercus incana, Ulmus wallichiana, Acer caesium, Cornus macrophylla, Prunus padus, Aesculus indica and Salix tetrasperma.

Damage levels to trees

Unfortunately, a fault in a GIS instrument curtailed this survey. Nevertheless, measurements did confirm that neither oak nor yew are freely regenerating and that they are subject to much damage. Specimens of oak along the main tourist track were better preserved than elsewhere, and this relates to greater protection in these places. It was discovered that cedar is not a native tree at Ayubia, but introduced. Young individuals of this species were found in some open places and it seems that it is not under the same pressure as the previously mentioned two trees. In any case, it is not a fodder species.

Social structures and decision-making processes.

Families are grouped into social units known as Baradris, under the authority of a headman called a Badka. The Badkas of each village constitute a Village Council (Jirga). The unit of government administration at village-level is the Union Council, which plays a major part in all development activities. Quite apart from these organisations, certain men within the villages are particularly influential and play major roles in decision-making. They are not necessarily members of the Union Council.

Men are the major decision-makers within families, including regarding marriages and patterns of voting in elections. Male tasks include ploughing of the fields, purchase of potato "seed", house construction and income generation. Women are responsible for house-keeping, childcare, firewood and fodder collection, purchase of maize and bean seed, and looking after the livestock. Few opportunities are open to women to generate income for themselves, an exception being the sale of wild-collected fungi. Prices vary from 1500 Rps to 5000 Rps (30 – 100 US$) per dry kilo. The collecting season is from March to mid-May. An average of seven kilos is collected per collector per season.

Formal and informal systems of licensing and fining.

There is a system of legal fines embodied in the Pakistan Forest Act of 1927 which establishes fines up to 500 Rps (10 US $) (Ayaz 1998) for all offenses committed in Reserved Forests (cutting of wood, setting fire, pasturing animals, girdling of trees, lopping, stripping etc.). Although informal fines seem to be virtually universal, many collectors are reluctant to provide information on the subject (17 out of 40 women asked about this refused to respond). In any case, it is probable that they do not differentiate readily between the legal and informal systems. Informal fines per bundle of firewood vary between 50 and 200 Rps (1 – 4 US$). Informal fines for cutting a small tree are 100-400 Rps (2 – 8 US$) and for a big tree 2000-5000 Rps (40 – 100 US$). Women tend to regard the attitude of the Forest Department as "bad" towards them and are particularly annoyed when their axes are confiscated.

A consultative workshop was held in October 1998 to discuss the results of the second phase of the project's operations. This meeting brought together representatives of the communities (including women from collecting groups), local NGOs, the Divisional Forest Officer of Hazara District and members of the Natural Resources Conservation Project, NRCP Galiat. It was agreed that it would be fruitful in future for the project to cooperate more closely with the NRCP in the development of community forestry, and for WWF Pakistan to become involved in developing a new management plan for Ayubia National Park (also an aim of the NRCP). The NRCP has large nurseries at Abbotabad and has the potential to provide the present project with seedlings for planting firewood and fodder species. Recommendations for the management of particular plant resources in the park, the fruit of research from the present project, should prove useful in the development of the management plan.

Perspectives for 1999

Plans for the next phase (1999) include contributing to the development of community forests and, if possible, ANP management. It has also been decided to a meeting be held with the owners and managers of hotels the aim of which is to encourage them to develop and adopt a code of ethics relating to their utilisation of firewood. A further activity envisaged is the testing of various types of firewood-efficient stoves, with selection of the type most favoured locally followed by its promotion for local use. The fodder survey will be continued with research into floristic variation related to natural environmental parameters and regimes of use and management. This should eventually allow characterisation of fodder areas inside and outside the park according to their potentials for fodder production. Awareness-raising will be continued in schools and a booklet on the useful plants of Ayubia will be produced. Another national training workshop is proposed, but at a different site (not Ayubia) to allow focus on other issues of community-based plant conservation in Pakistan.

Lessons learnt

The presence of a project office at the site (in the bazaar of Nathiagali) has helped to foster good relations with local people. This was found to be especially important at Ayubia where there is considerable conflict over plant resources.

It has proved invaluable to have specialists from various disciplines - botany, forestry and sociology – making up the project team. This approach allowed for a greater diversity of perspectives and research methodologies.

Care has been taken to include women in the project team. Three out of the four young professionals in the team were women. Most use of plant resources here is by women and, given local cultural sensitivities, it is essential to engage women on a project of this type to develop an adequate understanding of resource-use and appreciation of how better to develop mechanisms to better conserve plant resources. Moreover, in this case, a certain rapport between project members and women collectors can only be achieved by same gender interactions.

The project has spent two years conducting research in the subject of applied ethnobotany and there have been many calls for more practical activities by local people. In response to those demands, the next phase of the project will incorporate practical activities geared towards improving management of plant resources at Ayubia.

There is much illegal gathering of plant resources at Ayubia and people are often reluctant to discuss their activities. For this reason, work can only progress rather slowly. Furthermore it is important to remain open to the reorientation of project directions based on interim results. From our study at Ayubia, it is estimated that at least two years are required to develop a good understanding of the basic issues.

The project has highlighted the critical importance of systems of land tenure and ownership of natural resources as factors in resource loss as well as keys to potentially better management. This is not only an issue at Ayubia, but needs further consideration at the national level.

Although calls have been made to expand the educational and awareness-raising aspects of the project, it is doubtful whether these will have much influence in themselves unless the practical issues of decreasing supplies of firewood and fodder are addressed directly, and also because the main group of resource-users (women) are nearly all illiterate. This last fact indicates that different educational/awareness raising methods other than teaching in schools or by printed materials would be better at reaching the critical target group.

Progress in the future will depend largely on better communication over natural resource issues between the various stakeholders at ANP, notably communities and agencies, and men and women.

The use of ANP as a base for national training workshops has been useful, as on its doorstep there were practical examples for participants. In turn, the project benefited from participants advice.

Further information / References

Aumeeruddy Y. 1996, People and Plants Himalayas, Country and site planning report for Pakistan, 17 pp. Report prepared for the European Union.

Aumeeruddy Y. A. Ayaz, A. Gillani, AZ. Jabeen and H. Jabeen. 1998, Detailed workshop report: People and Plants workshop on applied ethnobotany at Ayubia National Park, NWFP, Pakistan 14-16 October 1998

Ayaz A. 1998, Annual technical report, People and Plants Initiative Conservation and Training in Applied Ethnobotany, Pakistan, WWF Pakistan 97 pp.

Shinwari Z.K., Khan B. A., Khan A.A. 1996, Proceedings of the First Training Workshop on Ethnobotany and its Application to Conservation, September 16-24, PARC, WWF, ICIMOD, Islamabad, 1996

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