The classification and efficiency of use of forage resources under semi-arid conditions in the Hindukush, Kakakoram and Himalayan region of Pakistan
The study was based on six villages along two sample transects, i.e. the Karakoram Highway (KKH) transect (good road and market infrastructure) and the Gilgit Ghizar Region (GGR) transect (poor road and market infrastructure). The primary objective was to examine if there were differences in pasture use due to infrastructure development. In each village, pastures were categorised into three broad vegetation types on the basis of altitude, i.e. foothill (<1500m), dry temperate (1500-3000m) and alpine (>3000m). Within each vegetation type pastures were selected for measuring vegetation by quadrats of varying sizes. Vegetation changed from very sparse shrubs in foothill to less sparse shrubs in dry temperature to grass/forbs in alpine pastures. One foothill, three dry temperate and four alpine communities were identified. Availability of water was the main factor that affected the structure and composition of vegetation in the area. Biomass and production was high in the alpine as compared to foothill and dry temperature pastures during different seasons. Production was high during spring in the dry temperature pastures. Altitude change did affect biomass, however production was less affected. Both biomass and production were better on the moderate as compared to gentle slopes. The nutritive value of herbage was highest during spring season overall. Alpine pastures had higher use than dry temperate and foothill pastures in all seasons. Production was higher than use in the dry temperate pastures during spring season. The livestock density did not differ between the KKH and GGR transects. The alpine pastures had higher livestock density. There was no significant difference in pasture use by livestock between the KKH and GGR transects. The main difference was in the use between different villages, particularly during spring season. There was higher use of the alpine pastures of different villages on both the transects (concordant with livestock densities).