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Adapting to climate change in Himalayan cold deserts

Gargi Banerji (PRAGYA, Gurgaon, India)
Sejuti Basu (PRAGYA, Gurgaon, India)

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management

ISSN: 1756-8692

Article publication date: 9 November 2010




Climate change affects the natural resource base and poses enormous difficulty for the natural resource‐dependent indigenous population of the cold desert region in the high altitude Himalayas. The interplay of climatic and eco‐hydrological processes on these fragile ecosystem coupled with increasing anthropogenic pressure, are leading to increasing stress on indigenous agro‐pastoral communities and their livelihoods. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the outcomes of a study carried out in the Trans and Western Indian Himalayas to quantify the level of environmental threat and adaptive capacity.


Field studies were carried out across the cold desert belt in Indian Himalaya. A stratified, nested sampling across four Altitude Bands and three hydrological levels in two bio‐geographic regions. A participatory approach blended with scientific field observations and secondary data collection was adopted. Criterion variables were used to identify the “Vulnerability Hotspots” while component indices helped in depiction of key characteristic features of study units.


Data generated through participatory resource appraisal and scientific field observations were used to determine vulnerable “hotspot's”, identifying the driving factors (both anthropogenic and natural processes), and determining focus areas for interventions.

Practical implications

A pilot project on Water Access and Wasteland Development has been initiated in the Western Himalayas that integrates community based natural resource management with infusion of appropriate technology to address water stress and ecosystem vulnerability.


The research results identify target areas and methodologies for intervention, while the pilot initiative strives to ensure that disadvantaged cold desert mountain communities have access to resources and skills for effective management of these resources.



Banerji, G. and Basu, S. (2010), "Adapting to climate change in Himalayan cold deserts", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 426-448.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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