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Assessing forest fragmentation in north-western Himalaya: a case study from Ranikhet forest range, Uttarakhand, India

Sharma, Mohit, Chakraborty, Anusheema, Garg, J. K., Joshi, P. K.
Journal of forestry research 2017 v.28 no.2 pp. 319-327
biodiversity, biodiversity conservation, case studies, climatic factors, cropland, databases, fallow, forests, habitat fragmentation, land use and land cover maps, landscapes, remote sensing, shrublands, sustainable forestry, topography, Himalayan region, India
The northwestern Himalaya harbors high levels of biodiversity due to its unique topography, climatic conditions and heterogeneity. Forest fragmentation is one of the major threats causing a decline in biodiversity in the Himalayan region. We assesses forest fragmentation and changes in land use land cover (LULC) patterns using multi-temporal satellite data over a time span of four decades (1976–2013). Fragmentation analysis using the Landscape Fragmentation Tool (LFT) reveals a decrease in core and edge areas by 14 and 2.3 %, respectively; while an increase in non-forest, patch area and perforation area by 2.1, 0.4, and 14 %, respectively. The LULC dynamics show that the areas under dense forest and scrub forest have decreased by 2.8 % and 1.9 %, respectively; and there is an increase in open forest, crop land and fallow land area by 2.6, 1.7 and 2.1 %, respectively. The quantification of landscape heterogeneity is undertaken with the help of landscape metrics computed using FRAGSTATS at class and landscape level, showing signs of increased fragmentation. Our study provides baseline database that can support the future biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management initiatives.