Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Community Based Natural Resource Management in Roghani Valley, Northern Pakistan

Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Community Based Natural Resource Management in Roghani Valley, Northern Pakistan

Article excerpt

Abstract

Facing the scarcity of natural resources, high environmental risks and threats, and undependable accessibility, most of the mountain communities have evolved indigenous sustenance strategies through adaptations. Adaptation is a two-way process either adapting human demands according to resource limitations or amending the resources according to the rising human needs and wants. Such adaptations make them able to cope with the growing gap between the productivity of natural resources and the demands of increasing number of dependent users. The present study is an attempt to investigate the indigenous resource management and utilization mechanisms in a mountainous community located in Dir district northern Pakistan. The study is based on qualitative information collected through interviews and focused group discussion. Like most parts of the northern mountainous belt of Pakistan, the resources are kept and managed under locally introduced ownership system in the study area as well. The inhabitants have evolved self-administered institutions for managing resources and there is no interference from the state authorities.

Keywords: Natural Resources; mountain communities; Northern Pakistan; the Hindukush

Introduction

Most parts of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region - extending from Afghanistan to Myanmar and covering eight countries - are not only poor, but also face problems of natural resource degradation at a very rapid pace. Mountainous areas exhibit different social and physical characteristics distinguishing them from the plain areas (Biswas et al. 2012; Bernbaum 1997; Ives et al. 1997; Messerli & Ives 1997). The characteristics of mountainous areas have been called 'Mountain Specificities' by Jodha (1992), which include inaccessibility, marginality, fragility, diversity, resource potential and social adaptations. In general, the mountainous areas have limited natural resource base determined by the rugged topography and harsh climatic conditions. On the other hand, the population is continuously increasing, which results into an imbalance between the natural resource potential and the dependent users (Sharma & Banskota 1992; Pretty 2003; Steins & Edwards 1999; Eckholm 1975; Jodha 2007).

Nevertheless, the mountains' inhabitants are well aware of the opportunities, threats and constraints and have indigenous knowledge which enables them able to withstand the fragile environment. Facing low productivity issues, high environmental risks and threats, and limited and undependable accessibility options (Bjonness 1983; Thomas 1979), most of the communities in these areas evolve indigenous sustenance strategies through adaptations to the limitations and potentialities of the local natural resource base (Barkin 2012). Adaptation is a two-way process i.e. adapting human demands according to resource limitations; or amending the resources according to the rising human needs and wants (Bjurnsen et al. 2012; Britan & Denich 1976; Ehlers 1996, 1997; Pugh 2005). Such adaptations included seasonally and spatially diversified and interlinked land-based activities such as diversified agricultural mechanisms, farm-forestry, and indigenous resource management and utilization systems. Although there are internal inequities and occupation-specific differences in the stream of benefits from the natural resource base; however, the close dependence of the inhabitants on local resources created an integrated collective venture in their natural resources, reflected by cooperative actions to protect and manage them (Berkes 1989; Jodha 1998; Leach et al. 1997).

With the growing population, the natural resource use mechanism has shifted from supply-driven to demand-driven pattem. This shift is another major factor behind the imbalanced between the productivity of natural resources and their usage. Nevertheless, the relative isolation and small size of rural communities and proximity to environmental resources imparted indigenous knowledge and understanding of the constraints and usability of their natural resource base. …

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