Diversity, floristic composition and regeneration status of the communities in and around the dam submergence areas of Malana II Hydroelectric Project in Himachal Pradesh, Northwestern Himalaya
The Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) is very well known for its unique topography, large altitudinal range, climate and diverse habitats globally. Mountains are complex and fragile ecosystems of the world and covers 24% of the global land surface area and dwelling to 12% of the world’s population. The state Himachal Pradesh which forms the part of Northwestern Himalaya is also rich in biodiversity. Inspite of the richness of biodiversity, in Himachal Pradesh a very few studies have been carried out to assess the floristic diversity quantitatively. In the Hydro-Electric Project areas ecological studies are meagre. Therefore, the present attempt has been made to assess the floristic diversity of the Malana II Hydro-Electric Project (100 MW) qualitatively as well as quantitatively.
Total 591 species of vascular plants and 15 forest communities (Trees: 11 and Shrubs: 04) have been recorded. Total tree density and basal area ranged from 353.33-610.0 Ind ha-1 and 10.56-82.88 m2 ha-1, respectively. In general, soil pH ranged from 8.23-8.63, moisture content, 11.10-52.04%, organic matter, 1.87-11.91%, carbon, 1.08-6.91% and nitrogen, 0.07-0.49%. The vegetation data were correlated with soil data. In most cases positive correlations were found. The study concluded that the changing environmental conditions coupled with high anthropogenic pressures may lead to depletion of population of the tree species and replacement by spiny species in near future. Therefore, regular long-term monitoring of all the identified communities, impact of hydroelectric project and climate change on biodiversity of the area need to be done for depicting the dynamics of vegetation. In adition, the degraded sites of the hydroelectric project areas need to be restored through plantation of the species falling under high threats. Training programmes/ meetings/public hearing/interactive workshops on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for the inhabitants of the area need to be organized. These would help for the conservation and management of biodiversity in Malana II Hydro-Electric Project area.