Environmental Challenges in Garhwal Himalaya

Garhwal Himalayan region is one of the unique regions which have attracted several people from all over the world for its natural beauty and endless natural resources. The Himalaya is the youngest mountain ranges in the world, which is formed by plate movement. The Himalayan Range is still growing, which means the mountains have not stabilized. Extensive anthropogenic interference such as developmental activities increases this hazard manifold. As a result the landscape in Himalayan region along with Grahwal is highly susceptible to natural calamities. Currently its environment is affected by numerous catastrophic effects. Following are the most important environmental challenges which create problems for natives.

  1. Frequent landslides followed by rainfall in Garhwal are the common problem during rainy seasons. Heavy rainfall is the main cause which weakens the mountains and blocked motor roads, particularly in remote areas.
  2. Incidents of cloud burst are commonly reported in Garhwal since last few years. Every year shops, livestock and houses have been lost in several villages. Cloud burst causes huge flow of water and release of silt, which filled the surrounding places burying thousands of pilgrims and local people.
  3. Forest fires affected hundreds of hectares of forests in every summer. These fires responsible for the loss of human lives and wildlife species and also cause damage to the ecosystem. In general every forest fire is caused by human beings. Encroachments, illegal tree felling and unregulated collection of forest products are also responsible for damage to forests.
  4. In major parts of Garhwal Himalaya large number of natural springs that dotted the hillside has been damaged due to the cutting of slopes for road building, dam construction or other unplanned activities. These have adversely affected the underground water table at many places.
  5. Human-wildlife conflict is one of the main challenges in Garhwal region because wildlife corridors have been choked due to unplanned development and this also contributes to increased human – animal conflict.

By – Dr. Sandeep Dhyani
HOD, Department of Botany
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital