CHAPTER THIRTEEN LYNELLE PRESTON DEMOGRAPHIC INDICATORS OF DEFORESTATION: A MISSING LINK IN DEVELOPING FOREST POLICY IN SIKKIM Introduction Deforestation is increasingly becoming recognized as the number one threat to mountain ecosystems and mountain cultures. The Himalayas are no exception. During the last 20 years studies have focused on the relationship between deforestation and the corresponding increase in population. Although extensive numerical statistics are lacking, the trends and indicators blatantly illustrate this causal relationship. This study examines Sikkim as a specific example of the larger trends that are occurring in the greater Himalayan region. Although Sikkim has not yet suffered as extreme deforestation as its neighbors, its rate of deforestation is much more dramatic. Because Sikkim is only in the early stages of deforestation, there is a greater chance that this destruction is reversible. This study examines different demographic factors which contribute to the amount and rate of deforestation and then outlines policy recommendations which could be used to slow or reverse these trends. Sikkim, the newest state of India, is located in the northeast corner of the country bordering Tibet on the north, Nepal on the west and Bhutan on the east. (Appendix 1, Map 1) Compared to the rest of the Himalayas, the state has been visited by few outsiders and therefore has been less disturbed by western influences and consumptive tendencies. As in other areas, resources are becoming more scarce as population increases and consumption patterns continue at present levels. According to Dr. William Drakes theory of transitions, Sikkim appears to be in the midst of a forestry transition -- a period of rapid change, relative instability and volatile conditions. Sikkim is at this vulnerable state because it is in the beginning stages of dramatic change rather than being near the end of the transition, a period returning to relative equilibrium and stability. While this transitional stage makes Sikkim especially vulnerable, the transition period also provides policy makers in Sikkim with unique opportunities to direct change in positive rather than negative directions. Typically, when such periods of transition and crisis are recognized, people tend to act aggressively and develop creative solutions. Since deforestation is a relatively recent phenomenon in Sikkim and it is in its early stages, there are great opportunities now to implement changes which will direct and shape future forestry trends. A Model Simulation to Assess Deforestation While the majority of research on deforestation explores the causal relationships between the many different factors, it rarely gives an indication of the magnitude or time frame involved. In a paper entitled Man versus Mountain: The Destruction of the Himalayan Ecosystem (Rieger in Lai, 1981), Hans Christopher Rieger has devised a model simulation which graphically illustrates the magnitude and severity of current population and deforestation transitions in the Himalayan region as a whole, rather than simply stating that these problems exist. Rieger uses an ecological model of the deforestation processes based on a set of assumptions describing the Himalayan region to illustrate current forestry trends and to predict future ones. The assumptions include a population growth rate of 2 per cent per annum, an extraction rate of 1400 kg per capita per year, a natural forest density of 360 tons per hectare of timber, and a natural forest growth of 5 per cent per decade. Using these initial conditions, the model was first set in motion for a period of 100 years. The results are depicted in Figure 1. Figure 1: Source: Reiger, 1988. As is expected the extraction curve has a close similarity to the population curve. Since the natural growth of forests curve lies well above the extraction curve, the ecological system appears to be in balance. A policy-maker in year 100 looking back on past developments would have no cause for alarm if he assumes -- as most politicians do -- that the future is most likely to be like the past. However, an examination of Figure 2, in which the same curves have been projected for a further century, shows that this complacency is ill-founded (Rieger, 1981) Figure 2: Because of the exponential growth of population, the extraction rate increases so rapidly that before the year 120 is reached, extraction exceeds the natural regeneration of the forests. Within a few decades, the remaining forests are depleted to the point of complete destruction. The result is not only the complete destruction of the forests, but also the destruction of all the people who depend on forests for their survival. This model does not, however, necessarily predict what will happen in the future because other variables are not considered in the equation. But it does illustrate the current trends and projects one possible future scenario (Lal, 1981). Sikkim is no exception to this model. In fact, the available data indicates that the rate of deforestation in Sikkim may be occurring at an even greater speed than that described in Riegers model. When running the model using initial conditions which are more representative of Sikkim, the simulation yields much more dramatic results. The rate of destruction appears to be occurring at a much faster rate. The population growth rate is faster and thus the population and extraction curves are steeper; the population density, exacerbated by urbanization trends, is higher in Sikkim than that depicted in Riegers model; the changing ethnic composition and the booming tourism industry is affecting the total population growth as well as increasing the resource extraction rates. Demographic Indicators Population Growth One of the most apparent indicators that Sikkims extraction rates will exceed natural forest growth and total forest stock is the extreme population growth rate. While Rieger used a population growth rate of 2 percent per year, the population of Sikkim has grown at a much faster rate. (Figure 3) During the last 30 years, the growth rate has accelerated from 1.77% per year to 5.07% per year in 1981 (Karan, 1989).
Figure 3: Source: Karan, 1989. The dotted line on the graph shows the actual population during the last 100 years while the solid line shows the exponential projection of population growth over the next fifty years. This projection indicates that the population will continue to grow at an increasingly rapid rate. This projection assumes stable conditions and does not consider other factors. A closer examination of different demographic characteristics of Sikkim, however, allows one to assess whether in fact the population will continue to grow at the exponential rate depicted in the graph. The demographic information provides conflicting indicators of the future population growth. During the past 100 years, on of the main factors which has caused the growth rate to approach a 5.07 per cent per annum growth rate in 1981 has been the migration of Nepalese settling in Sikkim. The population growth rate of Nepalese living in Sikkim has averaged around 7 per cent between 1931 and 1981 and between 1978 and 1981, the population growth rate was 8.81 per cent per year. Figure 4 illustrates this: Figure 4: Source: Desai, 1988.
Figure 5: Source: Desai, 1988. Thus, much of Sikkims population explosion is due to migration rather than to high fertility and other demographic characteristics. Migration however is not necessarily a positive feedback loop, where an increase in immigrants triggers a greater increase. In fact the opposite occurs; when a significant amount has migrated, there is less room and therefore less desire for others to migrate. A high migration rate in one decade does not guarantee a high migration rate the next decade. In fact, at some point the migration rate will start to level off and eventually decline as an area becomes exceedingly crowded and less appealing. The data indicates that Sikkim appears to be nearing the end of its migration transition. (Figure 5) Assuming the ratio of Nepalese to Sikkimese has remained constant between 1981 and 1991, the decline in total population growth of Sikkim indicates a corresponding decline in the population of Nepalese immigrants. However, other demographic indicators show that while migration trends may be slowing, the total population growth rate of Sikkim will continue to increase dramatically, although perhaps not to the same degree as in the past due to high migration rates. One such indicator that the population growth rate will continue to increase is the age structure of the current population in Sikkim. Figure 6 indicates that almost 70% of the population is under the age of 29 (Desai, 1988). Thus, a majority of the population is either at child-bearing age or will be there soon. According to present patterns, the fertility rate will either continue at the same rate or increase. The fact that only 10% of the population is over 50 years old indicates that the death rate will remain low since most of the population is young and therefore at a low probability of dying. Figure 6: Source: Desai , 1988. Literacy levels can also be used as an indicator of population growth rate since a low literacy rate often corresponds to a high population growth rate. In Sikkim, only 34.05% of the population were literate in 1981. In general, the urban population is more literate than the rural population; the literacy rate in urban areas is 54.86% and in rural areas is 30.05%. Similarly, the literacy rate for males is almost twice as high that of females, 44% and 22% respectively (Balaraman, 1987). Although this study does not directly examine the relationship between literacy and population growth, this causal relationship is generally accepted among demographers. While there are exceptions, a low literacy rate often suggests a high population growth rate. Sikkims population is currently growing at a rapid rate, a majority of the people are in the young age groups, and literacy rates are low. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that the population will grow exponentially even if migration is slowed. Thus, assuming that the consumption rates in Sikkim are similar to those in the simulation and that there is a similar causal relationship between population and consumption as there is in other parts of thee Himalayas, these demographic indicators suggest that both the population and the corresponding extraction rates are more severe than what is shown in the simulation. Population Density Another assumption Rieger makes in the simulation is population density. Rieger assumes a population of 1,000 people living in a 100 sq.km. area, yeilding a density of 10 people per sq.km. After 100 years the density in the simulation was 72.5. In contrast, the East district of Sikkim had a much higher population density with 187 people per sq.km. in 1991 (Lama, 1994). As a whole, Sikkim currently has an area of 7,096 sq.km., a population of 406,452, and a corresponding density of 57 people per sq. km. Thus, Sikkim does not have a significantly higher population density than that depicted in the simulation. However, since the 4,226 sq.km. in the North district are largely uninhabitable due to rock and snow cover, extreme altitudes and harsh weather, the majority of the population lives in the other three districts. Consequently, 92% of the population lives in 40% of the geographic area ( Map 1, Appendix 1; Figure 7, 8). Thus, while the density of the country as a whole is only 57, the density of certain districts is significantly greater than the density assumed in the model both under the initial conditions and after the first 100 years. Figure 7 and 8 illustrate this phenomenon. Figure 7: Source: Desai, 1988. Figure 8: Source: Desai, 1988. Urbanization Current urbanization trends in Sikkim further indicate how much more densely populated these southern three districts will become. For example, not only is the East district already more densely populated than the North, but the population growth rate is also much higher than the growth rate of the North district. This difference in rates is at least partially a consequence of the fact that population growth, as mentioned earlier, is a positive feedback loop: a chain of cause-and-effect relationships that closes in on itself so that a change in any one element in the loop will change the original element even more in that same direction. Hence, an increase will cause a further increase (Meadows, 1992). Therefore, since the East district has more people than the North now, the positive feedback loop suggests that the East district naturally will increase at a faster rate, even though the resources are more scarce. Another reason that the East district is becoming more densely populated is because of the recent urbanization trends. Figure 9 illustrates the urbanization transition which has been occurring over the past fifty years. In 1941, the census revealed no urban population at all. By 1981, however, almost 20% of the population was considered urban. This indicates that much of the population is concentrated in pockets, thus placing even more constraints on the resources in these urban centers. While in some countries, urbanization trends have had beneficial impacts on deforestation because large amounts of people with not enough forests are forced to find alternative sources of energy, in Sikkim it is the urban centers which have suffered from the most deforestation as evidenced by land slides (Desai, 1988). Nevertheless, the unevenly distributed population and the increasing urbanization trends mean that certain areas of Sikkim are becoming much more densely populated than that depicted in Riegers simulation. Figure 9: Source: Desai, 1988. Just as the number of people per geographic area is significantly higher in parts of Sikkim than in the simulation, so too is the corresponding number of people per forest area. The simulation begins with an assumption of 1,000 people and 9,800 hectares of forest; this yields 9.8 hectares of forest per person. After 100 years, the simulation indicates 1.18 hectares of forest per person. According to many estimates of deforestation in Sikkim, the remaining forest area in the 1980s was 265,210 hectares while the population was 316,385. This indicates a ratio of .84 hectares of forest per person. Since .84 is already well below the simulations 1.18, this may indicate that the lines on the graph are actually closer together than those in Riegers simulation. By using a different population growth rate and a higher density, and assuming that extraction rates per person is similar to that used in the simulation, it is clear that the population and extraction curves will both be steeper than those in the simulation. No data could be found on the natural forest growth rate or the rate at which forest stock is declining. Therefore, by using the forestry rates depicted in the simulation, combined with higher population and extraction rates, it becomes clear that the point where these lines cross may occur sooner in Sikkim than in other Himalayan regions. Consequently, Sikkim is currently at a point along the transition more similar to that projected for the second hundred years where the lines are closer together. Perhaps today is most accurately represented by the 100th year of the simulation rather than the 10th year. Such information is critical for policy-makers and forest managers. The immediacy of the situation needs to be considered in adopting and implementing new forest policies.
Changing Ethnic Compositions There are other demographic characteristics, not accounted for in Riegers simulation, which significantly affect resource use and consequently affect the forestry transition. Numbers and statistics are often the most commonly used indicator of change in a society although other factors may have a more significant impact on resource use in a particular region. For example, the different ethnic groups in Sikkim utilize forest resources very differently and consequently have very different impacts on the environment. An increase in the population of Nepalese people in Sikkim has caused corresponding changes in forest use. Historically, Sikkim was inhabited by two major ethnic groups -- Lepchas and Bhotias. The Lepchas are believed to be the original inhabitants of this area while the Bhotias are the Tibetan immigrants who took refuge in Sikkim in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. These two groups intermarried and became assimilated. Before the 1900s, the Nepalese began to migrate to Sikkim because their lands were deforested, over-cultivated, and over-populated (Kazi, 1993). In 1904, however, when Sikkim became a British protectorate, The Nepalese began to migrate in large numbers. The Indian government encouraged Nepalese people to settle in Sikkim, help bring the land under cultivation, and build roads. The Indian government also brought Nepalese people to Sikkim in an effort to outnumber the Tibetan-minded Sikkimese peoples so that the state as a whole would be more closely aligned with India than with Tibet. As a government official said, an influx of hereditary enemies of Tibet (Nepalese) is the surest guarantee against revival of Tibetan influence. (Desai, 1988) As a result, Nepalese people have moved in and now comprise approximately 80% of the population as shown in figure 10. Not only has it changed the culture of Sikkim, but it has also impacted the forest base. Figure 10: Source: Desai, 1988. In addition to the actual speed of immigration, the cultural differences between the Nepalese and the other ethnic groups has had a significant impact on forest destruction. The traditional Bhotias and Lepchas practiced a shifting cultivation called jhuming in which they moved to a new location every time the soil began to erode and became less productive. New land was cleared while old land was given time to rejuvenate. Given the low population of Bhotias and Lepchas before the Nepalese arrived, there was always plenty of land to practice this type of agriculture sustainably. However, when the Nepalese came, they brought with them knowledge of terrace farming in which they settled in one location and farmed the land. Terrace farming has definite advantages over jhuming in terms of soil erosion; however, since the Nepalese came in such large numbers, most of the available land was cleared for these permanent settlements. Additionally, with all the land in agriculture and a decreasing amount of forests, the amount of rainfall is reduced. The Nepalese were also brought to Sikkim to help build roads. This meant that not only were forests cleared for roads, but they were also cleared for new agricultural lands which became accessible by the new roads. The influx of Nepalese people also has an impact on the total population growth rate because as a group the Nepalese have a much higher fertility rate than the Bhotias and Lepchas. While the Lepchas and Bhotias are poorer and therefore marry later because of the high bride price , the Nepalese have typically married at an early age and have traditionally practiced polygamy. Since the Nepalese have a higher fertility rate, an increase in Nepalese residents means an increase in the overall fertility rate and consequently a higher growth rate for Sikkim. While the arrival of Nepalese has caused Bhotias and Lepchas to assimilate, the Nepalese have maintained their traditional culture and fertility patterns rather than adapting to those of the host cultures. While on some levels the Nepalese seem to contribute more to deforestation, there are other situations in which the Bhotias and Lepchas use more resources than the Nepalese. While the Nepalese typically build concrete or mud thatched houses, the Lepcha and Bhotias have traditionally built their houses out of valuable timber even when other materials are available. A house for 5 people requires one tree trunk annually for construction purposes. Consequently, about seventy cubic meters of valuable wood is logged per house although less than twenty cubic meters would suffice if properly and efficiently utilized (Karan, 1984). The Lepchas and Bhotias also have more livestock than the Nepalese. These animals utilize the forests for grazing and deplete the forest density. While tracts of forests are not necessarily cut down for the livestock, the animals feed on the undergrowth and on young plants which affects the forest health and productivity. Understanding these cultural differences in resource use enables policy-makers to design programs which target some of the fundamental causes of high extraction rates. For example, by limiting the flow of immigration, less forests will need to be cleared for agriculture. Similarly, by providing education and incentives for Lepchas and Bhotias to utilize less valuable timber or other building materials for their houses, timber resources would be utilized more wisely. Tourism Another significant change which has affected resource use in Sikkim is the increasing number of tourists. As other popular Himalayan tourist destinations become over crowded and deforested, tourists are flocking to Sikkim in search of unexplored and undisturbed environments. Relative to its neighbors, tourism is a recent phenomenon in Sikkim. While tourism in Nepal and Darjeeling began in the 60s and 70s, tourism in Sikkim only recently began to accelerate in the 80s. Although numbers and hard data describing the tourist trend in Sikkim are not available, a look at the trends in Nepal and Darjeeling, two places with similar natural resources and similar pressures, provides an indication of what may be currently occurring in Sikkim and also what is likely to occur. Tourism in Nepal increased from 12,000 tourists in 1966 to 110,321 in 1975, an increase of 8.2%. The number of foreign tourists in Darjeeling increased from 3,299 in 1974 to 10,977 in 1983 (Lama, 1994). Based on a survey done in 1976, over 90% of the tourists visiting Darjeeling are Indian nationals. Therefore, it is estimated that between 1974 and 1983 the number of tourists rose from 32,990 to 109,770. While this is only a 3-fold increase in Darjeeling, tourists comprised one-tenth of the total population of Darjeeling at that time. In both Darjeeling and Nepal tourists represent a significant percentage of the population although they are not typically accounted for in census data. Thus the actual population in these areas and their corresponding use of resources is significantly greater than what is depicted in the figures. Not only are the number of tourists significant, but also the type of tourists are important in that different types utilize resources differently. The tourists in Nepal and Darjeeling can be divided into two major types, domestic and foreign. In Darjeeling 90% of the tourists are Indian nationals who are coming to the hills for a long weekend or short stay. These people are among the wealthier and are looking for somewhat luxurious tourist facilities. Consequently, Darjeeling has 67 hotels in the 4.4 square miles of the state. Nepal, on the other hand, caters to a different kind of tourist--trekkers who have come from places outside of India to hike in the Himalayas. The resource needs of these tourists are very different from those of Darjeeling visitors. Relatively speaking there are not many hotels in Nepal because the majority of tourists are hiking, staying in modest accommodations, and theoretically eating more locally grown foods. Thus, these tourists consume less of the forests. However, the situation is not that simple since many of the trekkers in Nepal hike and stay at higher elevations near tree line, where the forests regenerate at a much slower rate than in the moist hill regions. Thus, the location of these tourists has more destructive impacts on the environment. Sikkim has a mixture of these two types of tourists with an estimate of 80% domestic tourists and 20% foreign tourists (Lama, 1994). Using the information from Nepal and Darjeeling, Sikkim has the opportunity to develop a tourism industry which caters specifically to the types of tourists who will have the least impact on the environment. Environmental Impacts of Population Pressures The actual relationship of human activity and forest destruction has recently become more heavily studied and understood. Although the exact rate of deforestation is unknown, the fact that it is occurring at fast speeds is suggested by the increasing number of landslides, one of the most common visible effects of deforestation in mountain environments. While exact statistics on landslides are not available, experts agree that landslides are occurring more frequently than in the past (Blaraman, 1987). The fact that they are reported to be most common around places with the highest density of people is an indication of the interrelationship between people and landslides even though no specific data is available. However, landslides have historically been a part of life in this area. The physical geography, steep slopes, high amount of rainfall, drastic altitudinal changes and variety in soil types, as well as the geologically unstable, young nature of the Himalayan region, located on a fault line between two tectonic plates make Sikkim extremely susceptible to landslides. Although there are many natural causes of landslides in Sikkim, there are also human factors which contribute to landslides. The most obvious connection between human activity and landslides is deforestation. As land is deforested, there are no longer root systems to keep the soil in place on the steeper slopes. Thus, in a heavy rain, the soil is washed downhill resulting in huge landslides. Deforestation is probably the leading cause of soil erosion and hence land slides. Figure 11 illustrates the impact of humans on the environment.
Figure 11: Source: Desai, 1988
The chart illustrates that deforestation is caused by a combination of the number of people and the behavior of people. Some of the boxes on the top level of the flow chart are areas that have been emphasized in this study -- differing demands for shelter among ethnic groups and tourist types, food demand, construction techniques, agricultural techniques, and grazing. Each of these uses trigger other processes leading directly to deforestation and landslides. For Example, Cardamom is one of the largest commercial crops and is grown along steep river banks. When the crops are harvested the soil is loosened and washed down stream after a heavy rain fall. A use that is not depicted on the chart is the unscientific construction of roads and buildings on these steep slopes. This is one of the biggest factors that can destroy natural ecosystems and trigger landslides (Desai, 1988). Such construction prevents the free lateral movement of moisture. Once this equilibrium is broken, progressive erosion occurs (Desai, 1988). The steep slopes and heavy rainfall mean a high velocity of water flow and therefore the transport of large quantities of silt, sand, boulders and timber. This erodes the river valleys and decreases the lateral support to hill sides, causing cracks in the upper level due to mass stress. As the cracks fill up with water, the resistance of the hillside decreases and major landslides occur. Such landslides can extend uphill and lead to the collapse of steep faces causing dangerous damming of big rivers (Desai, 1988). Policy Implications and Recommendations The consensus among experts that there is an increasing number of land slides and that these landslides are at least partially caused by deforestation has been enough to trigger forestry policies and programs in Sikkim. While the existence of government programs suggest progress and action, the approach used to arrive at such programs is often flawed; the policies are not based on scientific data or carefully designed and therefore fall short of achieving their objectives. It has been a trend throughout history that policy makers prefer to make new policies rather than to successfully implement or monitor polices which have already been adopted. Consequently, many policies are adopted haphazardly, do not address all the aspects of the problem they intend to solve, and are not monitored to see whether they are in fact effective. In Sikkim, as in other areas and countries, the solutions to a problem as large as deforestation have been piece meal; each government department, development worker, or scientist has a different perception of the problem and a different solution. The typical response to a problem such as deforestation is to sound the alarm and then take the driver seat, without analyzing the full scope of the problem and all its components. In Sikkim for example, there are more than ten different government-sponsored developmental programs working on fixing deforestation -- the department of education, forest, land use, soil conservation, agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, rural development, public works, power, health, and the Sikkim Trading Corporation and Spices Board. While each department is working on an important component, there is no unified comprehensive overall natural resource management strategy. There has been little collaboration among the different departments to collectively try to understand the complexity of the problem. The issue of deforestation spans many disciplines. Consequently, solutions lie in an integrated cross-disciplinary approach where physical scientists, social scientists and demographers, local residents, and policy makers work together as a team. The first and most obvious gap in Sikkims forestry policies is the dearth of numerical data and the uncertainty of the data which does exist. Measuring forest cover has always been more of a challenge in mountainous regions, however the need for data here is as important if not more important than obtaining forestry data in other parts of the world. The data that is available is largely qualitative. For example, one scientist writing about deforestation (Moddie, 1981) describes the road heading north from Gangtok. In 1947, 15 km up the track from Gangtok was one of the worlds finest rhododendron forests, dripping with 500 cm of rainfall a year. It was a shock to discover ten years later, that not one tree stood there. Such data is typical of what is available on the deforestation situation in Sikkim. Many of the reports discuss the fact that there are only 265,210 hectares of forest area left. This figure is from the early 1980s and is the only figure found in all the different sources of information. Thus, it is probable that one scientist came up with the figure and all the others have relied on that information as the commonly accepted amount of forest cover left. Figure 12: Among the various reports I found only one map illustrating the land use patterns (Figure 12). While this map is better than nothing, it does not have enough detail upon which forestry policies and reforestation schemes can be based. There is a real need in Sikkim for GIS and remote sensing technologies in order to understand the situation accurately enough to design strategies that will be effective. Obtaining accurate and sufficient data should be the first step in developing policy recommendations. Such information will serve as base line data against which success can be measured. Having base line data is an essential tool needed to monitor the success of policies, and to know when certain policies need to be altered to better achieve their goal. Depending on the level of local expertise in this area, training programs may be needed in order to develop a skilled people who are able to gather such data. Another set of information which will be critical to designing effective policy is socio-cultural data. It is becoming increasingly recognized that policies which do not examine and understand the social components and the needs of the local residents are often short-sighted and unsuccessful. Consequently, a comprehensive study of the socio-cultural aspects is desperately needed before any regional forestry policy can be designed. There are many different approaches to use, including participatory rural appraisal or a social impact analysis, however the most essential element is to go to the villages, speak with the resource users themselves and become familiar with their specific needs. This study has outlined some of the social aspects of the deforestation dilemma, yet the source of information has been largely outside experts or government leaders living in the capitol of Gangtok. It is typical for development work to rely on such information without actually going to the communities, having community meetings, and hearing from those groups of people whos voices are rarely heard. The most important group to target in obtaining socio-cultural information is the village women. These are the people who make the household resource decisions. They gather the fuel for cooking and the fodder for livestock. They are the ones playing the most vital role in the village economies. They are also the ones most underrepresented in government departments or government decisions. Culturally, they do not interact much with men and therefore they do not participate in decisions, nor do they have access to information about natural resource issues. Consequently, it will be essential to spend time with these groups of women to understand their resource needs. Given the cultural norms, the most valuable data would probably be obtained from a female researcher rather than a male one. Such details are often overlooked yet are critical to obtaining accurate data which will lead to effective policy strategies. The final set of information needed is data regarding deforestation patterns and forestry polices in other parts of the Himalayas. Such information can be used to assess which strategies have previously been used and which ones have been effective. This will assist the government in implementing policies and programs which have a greater likelihood of effectively reversing the current deforestation trends rather than implementing programs which have already failed in other areas. The most obvious intervention strategy is to improve the regeneration rate of forests using afforestation schemes and erosion/landslide control. However, these two solutions deal with the immediacy of a particular situation yet do not address or alter the fundamental causes of the problem. Looking back to figure 11, soil erosion and deforestation are in the lower half of the flow chart. While schemes to reverse these trends are important and do address the most visible aspect of the problem, the underlying causes of the problem remain unchanged. Consequently, while more trees may be planted, the consumption rate and overall deforestation rate, affected by population numbers and behaviors, will continue to increase. Thus afforestation programs and erosion control measures will not be effective when implemented in isolation. Solutions need to focus on the causes of deforestation, those boxes that are at the top of the flow chart -- the number of people and the behavior of people. This first part of this study has illustrated how these two factors, number and behavior, affect resource use differently. Utilizing the information outlined previously, policy makers can begin to design solutions which deal directly with the causes of the problem. Consequently, rather than investing money in reforestation and scientific remedies, it is important to address the human components which are at the heart of deforestation. The foremost social intervention involves reducing the population growth rate. Based on the first part of the paper, it is apparent that handing out birth control may not be the most direct approach to limiting population numbers. In fact, the most important strategy does not involve fertility rates at all, but rather, involves the migration rates of Nepalese residents since this has been the driving force behind rising population growth rates. The second area to target is fertility rates. However, these programs need to specifically target the Nepalese residents rather than the Bhotias and Lepchas; the Nepalese are the ones with high fertility rates. Such details, based on a sound analysis of the situation, are absolutely critical to the success of the various policies. A typical policy maker, government bureaucrat, or development worker may not realize these subtleties and may invest significant amounts of money on birth control in an area dominated by Bhotias and Lepchas who have an extremely low fertility rate anyway. Reducing migration and curbing the fertility rate of Nepalese are two initial strategies to reduce the number of people. After a comprehensive analysis of socio-cultural factors has been conducted and more base line data has been gathered about the specific regions of Sikkim and the different ethnic groups, other strategies can be devised which specifically address the needs of these people. The second social intervention that can be used to reverse deforestation is to change population behaviors and therefore consumption rates. This study has outlined the various ways in which differing behaviors affect resource use differently in Sikkim. Based on this study, specific behavior patterns can be targeted in an effort to decrease the rate of deforestation. The first and perhaps most effective strategy in changing anyones behavior is through education. In addition to targeting those people who currently go to school, education programs need to address those populations who do not attend school and instead are at home managing the natural resource needs and decisions. These are primarily the women. Women are the ones who make the majority of natural resource decisions yet they have the least access to information on conservation and resource management techniques. Targeting this female population through village workshops, adult education programs, and dissemination of educational materials would be an important first step. There needs to be a mixture of formal technical programs and informal non-technical ones which cater to the different learning styles. Once a group of women are educated, these women can then work as a team to educate other women in rural communities about natural resource management techniques. More broad educational programs should follow after these initial female education programs have been implemented. Some of the most obvious behaviors to change are those at the top of the flow chart in Figure 11. For example, housing construction and agricultural techniques are two aspects discussed earlier which contribute to high consumption levels. By providing education to the Bhotias and Lepchas about the wood they are using to construct their houses, these people may be willing to change their practices if they understand the environmental impacts and consequences of their current construction methods. Showing them alternative housing styles which use different types of wood or different building materials altogether could be enough to encourage them to change their current practices. The initial socio-economic studies will be helpful in assessing their current housing needs and in finding suitable solutions. A second behavior change which could be encouraged is a shift in the agricultural techniques which are currently being used. For example, by having the Bhotias and Lepchas practice less jhuming (shifting cultivation) and switch to terrace farming, the land that was traditionally left fallow can be used for tree nurseries and reforestation programs. In addition, a closer examination of the different agricultural techniques that are being used in the Himalayan region is needed in order to determine the most effective agricultural techniques with the least destructive impacts. Agroforestry programs, which have been started in Sikkim, have been fairly successful although they are not widespread. By planting certain species, farmers can reduce soil erosion while also earning economic profits from exported products such as cardamom and mandarin oranges. By capitalizing on specific agricultural approaches such as these, farmers will be able to maximize production while minimizing environmental degradation. Another potential behavioral change which would require further study is the impacts of urbanization. In some parts of the world, urbanization has had a positive effect on rates of deforestation. In such situations urbanization trends have been paralleled with a rise in alternate energy sources. This arose out of necessity because the amount and location of forests were inadequate for the large numbers of urban residents. If Sikkim adopted alternate cooking fuels like kerosene or solar power, the urbanization phenomenon may not have a negative impact on forest resources from an energy perspective. However, unless there is an increase in construction technology, urbanization will still be destructive from a soil erosion perspective. Currently, the poor technology used to build roads and buildings has led to an increasing number of landslides. A study of similar urban areas located in mountainous terrain would help determine how, if at all, to develop urban areas in Sikkim. A study could show that given the extreme vertical topography, it is not feasible to have large urban centers. In this case, there needs to be policies which provide adequate services to the villages so that there are few incentives to migrate to urban areas. The issue of urbanization is a good example of an aspect of deforestation which may be overlooked by those developing forestry policies, yet is clearly interrelated. A final aspect of deforestation which addresses both numbers of people and behaviors of people is the growing tourism industry. As mentioned previously, the tourism industry is just recently beginning to grow and expand. The government needs to understand the dynamics of tourism and the potential environmental and social impacts before it can develop an effective strategic plan for the area. In recent years, Sikkim has responded to tourism by developing facilities as needed. For example, they have upgraded the accommodations with modern amenities, improved the transportation system with a fleet of comfortable vehicles; increased the opportunities for adventure tourists by providing trekking equipment, new trekking routes, and even hang gliding and river rafting; and finally, they have improved the publicity and availability of tourist information through private and governmental media. While all these approaches are appropriate, the country lacks an overall tourism management plan. The country needs to be proactive in determining what kinds of tourism are best for Sikkim and then devising strategies that are in their best interest rather being reactive to the tourist demands. The government again, needs to examine successes and failures of other Himalayan tourist destinations, especially those areas that have failed. This will help Sikkim to create a tourist destination that not only provides the best services for tourists, but also has the least environmental and social impacts on the area as a whole. As mentioned in the analysis above, Sikkim now caters largely to domestic tourists rather than foreign ones. There needs to be a formal study on the difference between these two types of tourists to determine which type of tourist will be more beneficial for Sikkim. Through a careful analysis of all the components of tourism, one can arrive at specific innovations which will determine the success and sustainability of Sikkims tourism industry in the future. For example, if a study indicates that trekker tourists in general uses fewer resources than wealthy weekend tourists, yet has a significant negative impact on the fragile alpine environment, strategies can be devised which reduce such impact. For example, trekking routes can be designed through the lowland areas where the vegetation is more sturdy. In addition to having less impact, these new routes could make trekking more appealing to those populations who traditionally prefer to avoid extreme altitudes or cold temperatures. Another solution would be to devise a way for trekking at high altitudes to have less negative environmental impacts. Since almost a third of Sikkim is uninhabitable because it is under rock and snow, perhaps trekker tourism would be a good way to put this land to use. This would require designing specific trails and encouraging tourists to stay on them, providing for increased litter and trash, having kerosene imported for cooking, and possibly even having solar outhouses to take care of human waste. Opening up such a high altitude trekking industry would provide many jobs, especially for those people who live in these extreme conditions of the North District and are well-suited to fill these roles. There would be a need for some outside technological help, yet this could be the perfect avenue for development agencies eager to fund useful projects. If the results of a tourism study show that trekkers overall have less impact than domestic weekend visitors, then publicity strategies are needed which attract foreign trekker tourists and discourage domestic ones. The simplest approach to limiting domestic tourists is to limit the number of luxury accommodations. In sum, Sikkim needs to take an active role in shaping the future of their tourism industry rather than simply responding to the tourism demands as they arise. This will enable Sikkim to plan for the future and to develop an industry that will be effective and sustainable when other Himalayan destinations are deforested and overpopulated. This policy section has outlined a number of possible steps which could be taken to reverse the deforestation trends. Underlying all of them is the need for a rigorous monitoring and evaluation system. As mentioned previously, in many parts of the world, policies are implemented but there effects are rarely monitored and therefore it is difficult to determine if the policies have been effective. Given that there will be baseline data from the initial studies, the Sikkimese government will be able to monitor the different components of the overall strategy in order to terminate programs that are not working, alter ones that could be working better, and to also determine which programs are effective and should be replicated in other areas. By monitoring programs and sharing the information about successful and unsuccessful programs, effective deforestation programs will emerge. Conclusion This study has used other Himalayan regions in an effort to first predict deforestation trends in Sikkim and then examine the population and environmental factors specific to Sikkim which have influenced the rate of deforestation. This has provided a more accurate picture of the deforestation transition in Sikkim despite the absence of numerical forestry data. Hopefully the study has illustrated for policy makers and others, the complexity of issues surrounding the deforestation phenomenon. The final policy section has provided a map of issues for policy makers to consider before adopting any one specific policy or strategy. Deforestation needs to be addressed in its entirety, incorporating all the interrelated aspects of the problem. Strategic planning must be a joint effort of multi-disciplinary experts combined with the local people who utilize the resources. Plans must be focused on long-term visions and goals and not just on solving immediate problems and disasters. By addressing these needs, Sikkim has the potential to be a model Himalayan ecosystem which has maintained its biodiversity of species, unique and pristine mountain environment, enclaves of traditional cultures, and a sustainable economy. APPENDIX 1 Map 1: Sikkim
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