Timber ban and its effect on the Himalayan rural women and rural energy

Timber ban and its effect on the Himalayan rural women and rural energy
Authors (non HEDON members)
Bhaskar Sinha
Degradation of mountain environments is a global phenomenon and the Himalayas represent one of the most endangered areas. The primary demands on the forest are precious; they include food, fuel wood, and other subsistence requirements (like timber, charcoal, resin, etc.). To protect these assets, on December 12 1996, the Supreme Court of India passed its momentous judgment with respect to the cutting of trees in Jammu and Kashmir and Tamilnadu. Later, when the extent of deforestation everywhere was recognised, this judgement was extended to include the northeastern and other Himalayan states. Over-exploitation of forests has severe environmental consequences and in this context, the judgement banning the felling of trees and all wood based activities to conserve the country’s declining forest is a welcome decision. But it has a far-reaching impact especially on the tribal peoples of the Himalayas. Tribal people are communities whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations.

It is estimated that as many as 90% of households in some developing countries, rely on biomass fuels for cooking and sometimes heating. In mountain environments, agricultural residues are scarce, biomass fuels come mainly from forests as fuel wood, discarded logs, twigs, etc. Hill people have always depended on forest for meeting their energy needs. But in a changing world, especially after the ban, the poor people of the Himalayan region are finding it difficult to adjust to their present situation.
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Title in French
L’interdiction de prélever du bois et ses effets sur l’énergie et les femmes de l’Himalaya
Abstract in French
Pour les populations tribales de l’Himalaya, l’interdit gouvernemental de prélever du bois a brusquement tari leur source de revenu. En effet la forêt leur fournissait non seulement le combustible mais aussi des aliments ainsi que des produits utilisés dans la médecine traditionnelle. La nouvelle législation a exacerbé les conditions de vie des populations qui éprouvent beaucoup de difficultés à s’ajuster au nouveau système.

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  • A practitioner's journal on household energy, stoves and poverty reduction.

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