Vegetation dynamics and their implications for the management of wetlands in the lowlands of Nepal

Jay Prakash Sah, Florida International University


The maintenance of species richness is often a priority in the management of nature reserves, where consumptive use of resources is generally prohibited. The purpose of this research was to improve management by understanding the vegetation dynamics in the lowlands of Nepal. The objectives were to determine vegetation associations in relation to environments and human-induced disturbances that affect vegetation dynamics on floodplains, where upstream barrages had altered flooding patterns, and consumptive use of plant resources was influencing natural processes. Floodplain vegetation in relation to physical environments and disturbances were studied along transects, perpendicular to the course of the Mahakali River in the western Terai, Nepal. Forest structural changes were studied for three years in ten plots. A randomized split-block experiment with nine burning and grazing treatments was performed in seasonally flooded grasslands. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to assess people's socio-economic status, natural resource use patterns and conservation attitudes. Elevation, soil organic matter, nitrogen, percentage of sand and grazing intensity were significant in delineating herbaceous vegetation assemblages, whereas elevation and livestock grazing were significant in defining forest type boundaries. On the floodplain islands, highly grazed Dalbergia sissoo-Acacia catechu forests were devoid of understory woody vegetation, but the lightly grazed D. sissoo-mixed forests had a well-developed second canopy layer, comprising woody species other than D. sissoo and A. catechu. In grasslands, species richness and biomass production were highest at intermediate disturbance level represented by the lightly grazed and ungrazed early-burned treatments. Ethnicity, education and resource use patterns were important in influencing conservation attitudes. A succession towards the mixed forests would occur in D. sissoo-dominated floodplain forests, where dams and barrages reduce flooding and associated fluvial processes, and if livestock grazing is stopped, as occasionally suggested by nature conservationists. In seasonally flooded grasslands, early burning with moderate grazing would enhance the species diversity and productivity. There is a need to implement a participatory integrated wetland management plan, to include community development, education and off farm income generation, to assure participatory conservation and management of wetlands in Nepal.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Sah, Jay Prakash, "Vegetation dynamics and their implications for the management of wetlands in the lowlands of Nepal" (2002). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3059789.