International Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 7 Issue 2 2016- September 2016 Pages: 220- 244                                 

Human – Environment relations and climate change in Western Himalaya

Author Information:

Anil Maan1, Ravindra Kumar2
Som Nath Thakur1, Simrit Kahlon2, Smita Bhutani3
1. Research Scholar, Centre of advanced Study in Geography, Panjab University, Chandigarh
2. Associate Professor, Centre of advanced Study in Geography, Panjab University, Chandigarh
3. Professor, Centre of advanced Study in Geography, Panjab University, Chandigarh


Mountains are among the most fragile ecosystems on Earth. Highly sensitive to climate change these ecosystems are being affected at a faster rate than other terrestrial ecosystems. The study of human-environment relations in mountain areas is important for both theoretical and practical reasons since mountain areas the world over suffer similar problems, namely resource exploitation, unemployment and natural hazards.

The present paper has two parallel objectives. The first is to discuss the land use and land cover change, and second to understand the climate variation in a tribal mountainous region of the Western Himalaya. A natural third objective that emerges is to establish the possible congruence between the two trends and highlight the implications of these changes. For the purpose of studying the land use and land cover change, data sets pertaining to two points in time viz. 1975 and 2011 were analysed and compared. Data for this purpose was procured in the form of satellite imageries from LANDSAT. The sensors that collected this data were Multi Spectral Scanner (MSS) and Thematic Mapper (TM). Base line information was obtained from the toposheets (1:250000) of the study area. For climatic variation, data on a monthly basis for the period from 1901 to 2002 (mean monthly temperature, mean monthly minimum temperature, mean monthly maximum temperature, total monthly rainfall and number of rainy days) has been sourced from the Indian Meteorological Department. This information was supplemented with ground reality and local perceptions. For this purpose, primary data has been collected using interview schedules and focus group discussions to understand the change in agricultural practices and perceptions regarding climate change.

The results indicate large scale modification of the study area. Both climate change and socio-economic forces are to account for this. There is an expansion in the area under agriculture, scrub land as well as the area under settlements. While this is likely to result in a further change in the human – environment interaction, it is also not without cultural implications for the study area.

Keywords: Human – environment relations, land use and land cover change and climate change


© 2016 Copyright by the authors, licensee Integrated Publishing Association.This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (3.0) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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