Published On: Fri, Apr 15th, 2016

Of climate change, land degradation and deforestation in Gilgit

Mehdi Hasan

GILGIT: During his childhood, Mohammad Latif used to reach the grazing fields along with his cattle from his village within an hour or so but now it takes him much time to cover the same distance.

53-year-old Latif is a resident of Farfu village in Gilgit valley. Like him, other inhabitants of the area are also economically dependent on cattle. They get milk, curd and butter from cattle, which are then sold at nearby markets to get some earning and run their households. Domesticated animals are also sold in the market for the meat consumption of the people.

Bagrot is located some 45kms away from Gilgit valley in the northeast, which faces flash floods almost every year.

Latif tells The Nature News that four decades back he had some 250 goats and more than ten cows. He used to take the cattle for grazing every day early morning, and bring back before dust.

“Nearby pastures have vanished and now it takes four to five hours to reach the grazing lands,” he says.

Over the years, greener pasturelands are shrinking, affecting the livestock. Meteorologists link the diminishing of pasturelands with climate change and cutting of areas trees on large scale.


According to Khadim Hussain, Deputy Director Gilgit-Baltistan Environmental Protection Agency, change in weather pattern could be witnessed due to climate change in the area.
“Earlier, snow would fall in the start of November but it has changed now. You would see snowfall at the end of December or early January,” he says. “As this snowfall in off-season is not converted into glaciers, when there is a rise in temperature, it results in flash floods.”

This is the reason behind a change of 21 to 25 days in cultivation calendar in the area, adds Hussain.

The settlers in the nearby localities nearer to glaciers became so disturbed due to frequent floods that they migrate from the area.

As the pastures are vanishing in areas nearer to localities, locals take their cattle hundreds of kilometres away in search of fodder. However, due to extreme weather, cattle can only be kept for six months in the mountainous, grazing areas. Hence, dwellers make temporary houses to reside on the top of the mountains in order to keep their cattle for six months.

According to expert Syed Zahid Hussain, uncounted cutting of trees from nearby pastures is another reason in the fall of grazing lands.

Dobani Development Organisation, a pressure group has imposed restrictions over illegal cutting of trees in the area. With mutual understanding, it has also chalked out rules that would minimise the supply of wood from area forest for fuel purposes.

This article has been published in arrangement with NCEJ as part of its training in Gilgit on “Reporting impacts of climate change on communities”

About the Author


Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Connect with us on social networks
Recommend on Google

Visit us on Google+