How is deforestation of Himalayas disturbing the ecological balance of north India? (150 words)

The Himalayas are geologically young ­, uplifted about 60 to 70 million years ago. The environment is fragile and sensitive to small disturbances. Deforestation in the Himalayas is considered as the main cause of environmental degradation in the region. The clear cutting of forest in the Himalayas has resulted in

  • Poor recycling of the nutrients,
  • Desertification in the in several parts of central Himalayas.
  • Eutrophication of lakes,
  • Drying up of natural springs,
  • Diminishing the extent of glaciers and changes in the surface and ground water hydrology,
  • Massive sheet-wash and channel erosion, landslides, decreasing agricultural yield,
  • Increasing poverty linked to deteriorating biological, physical and socio-economic environment.

In western Himalayas, the Bari Shigri glacier has retreated 800 m in 150 years and Pindari glacier in central Himalaya has retreated 1600 m since 1845. These changes in glaciers impact upon the glacial-fed rivers such that there is a gradual decrease in the volume of melt water released during the summer. The run off of rivers in the lesser Himalayas dropped about 35 percent over the past 15 years due to poorly-managed catchment and deforestation. Perennial springs have become seasonal and are drying up.

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