Title: Riparian forest degradation in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO): problems and solutions

Final project
Year of publication:
Supervisors: Friðþór Sófus Sigurmundsson
pressure, firewood, grazing, flooding, Western Pamir


Forest is the most important ecosystem in the high Pamir Mountain region. It has an important role in the socio-economical livelihoods of the local community where people are highly dependent on the forest resources. Firewood from the forest, given the harsh climatic conditions and long rigorous winters for the Western Pamir, remains the most valuable energy source, for both cooking and heating. Other alternatives are limited, or people are not able to access them. The huge demands on firewood are the highest pressure on the forest ecosystem and are causing the main challenge of forest degradation. By conducting this case study, I was able to understand the main factors of forest degradation and suggest possible solutions. In this research, I investigated the pressure on the forest by accounting for the consumers’ demands on energy resources and compared it with the growth of population, and with factors which influence forest growth as well. I surveyed three villages with a total of 48 households and conducted three focus group discussions for mapping the village resources. This study discovered that due to scarcity of fuel biomass people are still heavily relying on firewood for heating and cooking. The average annual consumption per household was estimated at 6 m3. The factors which influenced firewood consumption were limited access to other alternative energy resources in terms of their high price and affordability, a long and rigorous winter, the big size of the traditional houses and bad insulation of the buildings. The positive outcomes obtained through a survey were that 52% of the respondents were satisfied with the availability of electricity to use for cooking and that the quantity of firewood used had decreased to some extent. The destructive factors of forest degradation revealed included uncontrolled grazing, flooding, and settlement encroachment into forest bare plots, all of which had an enormous negative impact.

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