Performance of seedlings of various life forms on landslide-damaged forest sites in Central Himalaya

  • Published source details Chaudhry S., Singh S.P. & Singh J.S. (1996) Performance of seedlings of various life forms on landslide-damaged forest sites in Central Himalaya. Journal of Applied Ecology, 33, 109-117.


Mountainous regions are vulnerable to landslides, this vulnerability may be accelerated by anthropogenic activities such as road construction, logging and cultivation. On landslide damaged sites in the central Indian Himalayas, growth performance of six plant species of early successional communities was studied on three landslide-damaged sites of varying ages and an assessment made in their potential usefulness in revegetation of landslide damaged sites.

Study sites: During 1985-87, three landslide-damaged sites of varying ages (3-, 6- and 8-year-old) located between 1,650-1,980 m altitude in the Kumaun region, Indian central Himalaya, were studied.

The 3-year-old site was adjacent to pine Pinus roxburghii – oak Quercus leucotrichophora forest. The 6-year-old site was alongside oak Quercus floribunda forest, and the 8-year-old site alongside P.roxburghii forest.

Study species: Six species were selected for planting trials:

Nepalese alder Alnus nepalensis - a fast growing nitrogen-fixing tree and colonist of bare sites;

Himalayan poplar Populus ciliata - a fast growing tree and colonist of bare sites;

Whitethorn Crataegus crenulata - an erect 1-2 m tall shrub;

Desmodium tilaefolium - a creeping lequminous, nitrogen-fixing shrub;

Pennisetum clandestinum - a prostrate perennial African grass used to reduce soil erosion;

Bidens biternata - an annual herb and colonizer of bare ground.

Planting: Nursery raised seedlings of Alnus nepalensis, Populus ciliata and Crataegus crenulata, and stem cuttings of Desmodium tilaefolium, rootslips of P. clandestinum and B.biternata seedlings grown to the 4-leaf stage were used in plantings.

Individuals of woody species were planted in August 1985 at 1 x 1 m spacing in 1 x 4 m plots at different positions (top, slope and base) on each of the landslide sites. In similar sized plots, rootslips of P.clandestinum were sown 5-6 cm apart in three strips 0.5 – 1 m apart, also in August 1985. B.biternata seedlings were planted at 9-10 cm spacing in July 1986. Dead seedlings of all species were replaced at this time to allow comparison between 1- and 2-year old plants.

Vegetation monitoring: Growth performance in terms of monthly survival, growth, leaf expansion, dry mass of different plant components, leaf weight ratio, root/shoot dry weight ration and relative growth rate were assessed. Root depth and spread was also recorded and rhizosphere soil (i.e. soil in root contact) analysed fof total nitrogen. Regular observations were made to assess which species were grazed.

The results indicated that a suitable plant species mixture around A.nepalensis trees can be developed to hasten the revegetation process on bare sites.

The authors suggest A.nepalensis as the principal species for revegetation on landslide sites in this region of the Himalayas, for, as well as its own good growth characteristics, its nitrogen-fixing ability enhances soil conditions on these eroded sites for other plant growth, thus it acts as nurse for other species and makes an important contribution both to natural successions and to artificial revegetation.

Location of stable and suitable microsites for planting on the damaged sites would make more effective and hasten the process of, revegetation.

Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper.

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