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Conversion of forests into shifting cultivation and its impact on Soil organic carbon budget of Nagaland

Author Affiliations

  • 1Rain Forest Research Institute, P.B NO 136, Sotai, Jorhat 785001, Assam, India
  • 2Rain Forest Research Institute, P.B NO 136, Sotai, Jorhat 785001, Assam, India
  • 3Rain Forest Research Institute, P.B NO 136, Sotai, Jorhat 785001, Assam, India
  • 4Rain Forest Research Institute, P.B NO 136, Sotai, Jorhat 785001, Assam, India
  • 5Rain Forest Research Institute, P.B NO 136, Sotai, Jorhat 785001, Assam, India
  • 6Rain Forest Research Institute, P.B NO 136, Sotai, Jorhat 785001, Assam, India

Res. J. Agriculture & Forestry Sci., Volume 6, Issue (12), Pages 7-14, December,8 (2018)


Nagaland of North East India falls within the Eastern Himalayan Biodiversity region. This region falls within the lowland highland transition, manifesting one of the richest diversity of biomes and ecological communities. Nagaland is thus manifested with one of the richest biological values but has been undergoing tremendous land use change of late. A major driver of this land use change from forest to non forest in the region is the traditional practice of shifting cultivation locally known as Jhum. This age old practice has persisted despite its contribution to accelerated soil erosion and runoff from the agricultural fields. Land use changes in such a highly diverse region not only affect the overall biodiversity but also alter the carbon budget of the ecosystem. The shortening of the jhum cycle from 10-15 years to 3-5 years has worsened the situation in terms of productivity and ecological stability. An important component of an ecosystem carbon budget is the soil organic carbon. This study attempts to estimate the changes in carbon stock in two contrasting land uses viz. ‘forest’ and ‘shifting cultivation’ following standard methods. 220 soil samples from both the land uses were collected from three depths 0-15, 15-30 and 30- 45cm depth and SOC was estimated following the Walkley and Black method. The carbon stock in the forest was found to be 75.09 t C ha-1 whereas in the shifting cultivation it was estimated to be 42.03 t C ha-1 . Shifting cultivation in Nagaland is found to have increased over the years, most of these are reportedly at the cost of primary forest cover, these land use dynamic has serious implications in the overall carbon budget in Nagaland and needs to be addressed effectively to prevent further loss of this rich, immense natural resource.


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