Forests are the essential part of man: as food, for industries and even for health as it provide us with shelter, livelihoods, water, food and fuel security. Complete Himalayan range is decorated with extremely diversified forests. Looking at it beyond our narrow, human perspective, forests provide habitats to numerous animal species. They resides 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, and they also act as a source of livelihood for many different human settlements, including 60 million indigenous people. When we take away the forest, it is not just the trees that go. In developing countries, 2.5 billion people still use wood-fuel for their routine livelihood activity which is obtained from forests. Forest foods are often more rich in vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients and are associated with more diverse diets as compared to cultivated one.
Trees offer numbers of ecological services to mankind. For instance, they support bees and other pollinators, which are essential for crop production. They purify the air we breathe by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and releasing oxygen back into it, regulating air quality. One tree can absorb up to 10 pounds of air pollutants each year. At the same time, it can release 260 pounds of oxygen, or about half the oxygen one person needs for a year.
Close to one out of six people directly depends on forests for their food and income, and it is very important to recognise the scope of local people to these livelihood options. trees serve as a buffer in natural disasters like flood and rainfalls. Tree roots have major role during heavy rain, as they help the ground to absorb more of a flash flood, reducing soil loss and property damage by slowing the flow. In addition to holding soil in place, forests also use phytoremediation to clean out certain pollutants. Not only do trees provide fruits, nuts, seeds and sap, but they also gives blanket of goodness near the forest floor, from edible mushrooms, berries and beetles to larger organisms like deer, turkeys, rabbits etc. Forest also provides sustainable food for living and different type of roots which are used as medicine for treating various fatal diseases. Mountain people already live in a fragile landscape.
We depend on forests for our survival, from the air we breathe to the wood we use. Besides providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change. Yet, despite our dependence on forests, we are still allowing them to disappear. Their marginalization makes them even more sensitive to environmental degradation. Although forests are not a remedy for global hunger, but can play vital role in complementing sustainable livelihood options for Himalayan people.
Himalayas may be rugged and majestic, but also have fragile environments that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Several such changes had deeply affected the agricultural practices among the local communities. Deterioration in traditional mountain food systems with a decline in agro-biodiversity has made the community more sensitive to environmental degradation. Therefore the major goal of Food from Forest is to strengthen the Himalayan people to cope with the effects of socio-economic and environmental changes through nutritional security, high value products, innovative livelihood options and rural income generation strategies through forests. Generating awareness among the localities regarding the importance of wild varieties of forests is extremely essential for the sustainability and security of the residing species in Himalayan range.
Through this HARC is aiming on the health and future of Himalayan forests, by utilizing the bit of wild produces for high value products which will provide the sustainable livelihood and ensure a better future for Himalayan community.
- Nutritional security to marginal people of Himalayan range.
- Sustainable forest management.
- Protected natural ecosystem.
- Promoting livelihood resilience and food and economical security.
- Protection and propagation of endangered wild species