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Chapter XI - Pakistan case study 1: Agropastoral production systems of high altitude pastures of the upper Kaghan Valley, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan - Muhammad Rafique Sardar


High altitude grazing lands in the Himalayan region are important for many reasons, including as water catchments and wildlife habitat; they are mainly a source of livelihood for herders, both fully transhumant and local. The study involved two distinct herder groups using the same summer pastures: local farmers who take their herds to the high pastures in summer, and herding nomads with no settled homes who move between the high pastures and the foothills in Punjab and North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The nomadic groups itinerary is such that they spend most of the year in fairly clement climates, escaping the summer heat by going to the hills and overwintering in the subtropical plains and foothills, where they are also close to markets and opportunities for casual employment. Gross management faults have led to widespread pasture degradation, mostly associated with lack of control of grazing pressure and grazing continually from the first growth in spring. Since graziers are often not the landowners, they have little incentive, or possibility, to improve management. Some regulation of land use, probably community based with government backing, might allow improvement. It is hoped that the studies will provide information toward community-based interventions to improve both vegetative cover and household incomes.


Pakistan’s alpine pastures are between the snow and tree lines, above 3 000 m. They cover 1 050 000 ha, one percent of the area of the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Some 700 000 ha are in the Northern Areas [a territory administered by Pakistan, comprising the disputed territories other than Azad Jammu and Kashmir - the old Gilgit Agency], 270 000 ha in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and 80 000 ha in AJK (Sardar, 1997). Subalpine pastures lie between the temperate humid and alpine zones at the southern latitudes and are treeless; further north they are an ecozone between temperate forests and the alpine zone, as subalpine forests, grasslands, shrub-grasslands and meadows (Khan, 1971).

The study deals with two distinct areas: the summer, high altitude pastures in the Kaghan Valley, and winter pastures in the subtropical foothills. Two groups of graziers are involved on the summer pastures: local residents who take their flocks to the alpine grasslands in summer, and nomadic groups who graze there in summer but move to lower, milder areas in winter.

The Kaghan Valley

The area of alpine grazing in the Kaghan Valley (Site II in Figure 9.1) is about 12 000 ha (Hussain, 1968). The alpine grazing of Hazara Division can be divided into subalpine and alpine, based on vegetation. They are grazed by two groups: sedentary stock owners who live in neighbouring valleys, and nomadic sheep and goat herders, Bakarwals and Gujars, who come there at the beginning of summer, moving upwards as the snow melts, almost to the permanent snow line, and return in autumn to lower altitudes in the foothills or plains.

The four types of alpine vegetation in the Kaghan valley are, from high to low: alpine stony deserts; alpine meadows; alpine scrub; and alpine forest. Plant cover, cumulative cover and soil protective cover were 90.8, 119.3 and 97.8 percent, respectively. Average forage production was 700 kg/ha, range condition was determined as “Low Good” or “High Fair” (Hussain, 1968). The valley is surrounded by roughly parallel ranges which rise to 5 291 m at Malika Parbat; it is drained by the Kunhar river, which flows from Lulusar lake to the Jhelum. Saif-ul-Maluk is east of Naran town, at 3 267 m. The valley is a deep gorge about 96 km long and hardly more than 24 km wide, covering 945 km2. Major land uses are grazing (55 percent), forest (24.6 percent), agriculture (2.6 percent) and the rest is built up, roads or barren land. Every available piece of land is cultivated, from terraces built with great labour on hillsides, to rich irrigated valley bottoms. Almost all the valley is subject to grazing of varying intensity and frequency.

In 1901, the total population of the then Tahsil Mansehra was 18 396, of which Gujars (aborigines) were 9 200 (Anonymous, 1908). By 1981, the population had increased to 154 602 (Anonymous, 1981), a density of about 164 persons/km2.

Grazing is heavy and uncontrolled (Plate 55), with no concept of pasture management. The land tenure system exacerbates the problem as graziers are not landowners and both they and the landowners want to extract maximum income without maintenance or other inputs. Hussain (1968) estimated that 147 941 animals used the pasture. A count by the Forest Department in 1998 at Bunja checkpoint indicated that 139 024 head (Table 11.1) visited the alpine pastures. Both figures are underestimates: livestock coming from the Northern Areas are not counted and not all graziers use the main roads, where the counts were made.

Four representative sites were selected in the Upper Kaghan Valley (see map - Figure 11.1), one each in Burawai, Jalkhad, Besal and Gittidas. All were main camping-settlement points of graziers. At each site, five paired plots were laid out, representing typical slopes and micro-aspects. Each pair of plots were close to each other, about a metre apart. This distance was kept for ease in passage of grazing animals. One was fenced, the other open to grazing. Each fenced plot was 1.5 × 1.5 m and its clipped area was 1 m2; the ungrazed plot was 1 m2. The corners of clipped areas were marked by wooden pegs.

TABLE 11.1
Forest Department estimates of stock using the Kaghan pastures in 1998.

Livestock type



Conversion factor

Cattle and buffalo(2)

21 680

24 498



74 738

14 947



42 606

8 521



139 024

47 966

NOTES: (1) AU = Animal Units. (2) Cattle and buffalo were not distinguished in the count.

The second study area was Saif-ul-Maluk (see map - Figure 11.1), which was similar to other pastures but, due to its accessibility, was more seriously degraded. No study has evaluated traditional use, but Hussain (1968) assessed range condition. The present study to evaluate natural productivity and management systems followed on from that of Sardar (1997). A preliminary vegetation survey was done in June-July 1996; the productivity and utilization of the pasture was explored using a paired-plot system. Socio-economic data were obtained through questionnaires and interviews. The extreme north was chosen for studies on pastures of the alpine and subalpine ecozones, between 2 925 and 4 184 m. Access is by a jeep track, which is open from June to September. Saiful-Maluk area was selected because it is accessible, is one of the highest pastures, and is valuable to graziers and tourists alike. In the last week of June 1996, about 80 percent was snow covered. A preliminary vegetation survey was carried out after 15 June. The forage production and utilization trial was laid out in mid-July and continued till October 1997.

For winter (foothills) pastures, two sites - Dara in Khanpur (NWFP) and Thatha Khalil in Taxila (Punjab) - were selected, with grassland-scrub in the dry subtropical zone. These were winter grazing areas of nomads. At each site, three transect lines, one 20 paces above the bottom, a second in the middle, and a third 20 paces below the top or ridge were laid out. On each line, 20 quadrats each of 1 m2 were laid out 200 paces apart. Sixty quadrats were studied at each site by the weight-estimate method.

Plate 55. Heavy, uncontrolled grazing (and natural erosion) causes degradation on steep slopes in the Upper Kaghan Valley, NWFP, Pakistan.


In 1996 and 1998, paired-plots species cover was estimated visually; the current growth of vegetation was clipped in all plots; herbaceous vegetation was clipped to 2.5 cm above ground level, and any current growth of shrubs was clipped. The material was separated into grasses, forbs and shrubs; weighed; air-dried for a week; and re-weighed. Soil protective cover values for litter, cryptogams and bare rock were estimated. Soil samples to 16.5 cm were taken. In the first years of paired plots (1996 and 1998), data was recorded from August to mid-September; in the second years (1997 and 1999), data was collected monthly from June to mid-September. Collection of socio-economic data continued throughout the working period. In the foothills, data on species cover, protective cover, forage production and availability were collected in 1999. Material from foothill and alpine sites was analysed for nutritive value.

The graziers

The Kaghan valley is home to people of diverse tribes or castes. Sayeds and Swatis, and to some extent Awans, are influential landowners; others are either tenants or tenants-cum-landowners. Gujars have been recorded as aborigines who were pushed aside by powerful tribes like the Sayeds and Swatis; they were herders - sedentary or nomadic - and are still traditional graziers.

Sedentary graziers are subsistence farmers, their stock are stall-fed in winter on crop residues and hay from field boundaries and hillsides; residues and hay are often bought locally; they keep livestock for domestic use; some stock and produce may be sold. Nomads live mainly by the sale of livestock; dairy products are consumed domestically. They make no hay but move following fodder availability seasonally and graze foothill ranges in winter, and they may buy green fodder and hay and use leaves of Olea, Acacia and other shrubs in time of scarcity.

Nomads are stock owners; most settled farmers prefer to be called Zamindar (landowner - cultivator) and have smallholdings; all earn money as casual labourers, especially in winter. Subsidiary occupations include hiring ponies to tourists, acting as trekking guides, day labouring and teaching. Most live in one household as an extended family: 68 percent of the settled group and 53 percent of nomads were thus. Sons of some settled families work as labourers. Both groups had large families (11 persons) of whom 3-4 were adult males, 2-3 adult females, one was aged, and 4-5 under sixteen. Earners were all males. There were two schoolchildren, of sedentary graziers. Almost all nomads are illiterate; the lack of educational facilities in their shanty hutments is obvious. Only 20 percent of the settled group were educated to middle-school level.

Socio-economic information was collected from both sedentary and transhumant graziers using a questionnaire with 36 main questions, and interviews, covering movements, livestock management, mode of grazing, and involvement in grazing land management. An accidental sampling system was used: graziers who were at a camping site, on the road or visited a specific locality were interviewed. In alpine areas, huts are far apart and herders are not near them during the day; during the working seasons, only 43 household heads were interviewed: of these 29 were sedentary and 14 nomads. Of the sedentary group, 9 were Gujars, 5 were Awans and the others were Sayeds, Swati, Quresh, Mughal, Rajput and Pathan; of the nomads, 13 were Gujars.

TABLE 11.2
Types of land and ownership of graziers (ha).

Land use category



Cropped - Irrigated



      - Barani



Uncultivated - Grassland



Forest and plantations



Total - all types



Nomads live in tents and or kacha (mud) houses, mostly rented; 84 percent of sedentary graziers live in kacha houses (Plate 56), which they own. Sedentary graziers own or rent about 1.25 ha of land per household. Land rented by nomads averaged less than 0.5 ha (Table 11.2). Maize, wheat, potato and peas are the major crops; straws and haulms are fed to cattle and buffaloes.

The average annual income per household of sedentary graziers was PRs 21 600 (1 US$ = 51 Pakistan rupees (PRs)) and non-crop income was PRs 12 230. Nomads’ non-crop income was only PRs 23 856, which hardly covers daily expenses.

Plate 56. Subalpine pastures at Suri Paya, Kaghan Valley, Pakistan, with the earth-roofed dwellings (kacha) of the herders. There is evidence of considerable deforestation.

FIGURE 11.1. Study sites in the Kaghan Valley and Saif-ul-Maluk.

Production systems

The concept of community could not be used since the graziers come from several areas and are of two types: those who live permanently in Kaghan or adjacent valleys and take their stock to high pastures in summer, hereafter referred to as “sedentary graziers”, and nomadic transhumant herders (Plates 57 and 58), hereafter referred to as “nomads”, who move between alpine pastures in summer, transiting through forest areas in spring and autumn and overwintering on foothill sites. Nomads have no permanent settlements and are always on the move in search of forage. Afghan herders also use these pastures temporarily. Nomads overwinter around Khanpur, Haripur, Hassanabdal and Taxila. Sedentary graziers come from towns and villages of Kaghan valley, such as Phagal, Ghanool, Balakot and Kohistan.

Grazing lands


The upper watersheds are permanently snow covered. At three to five places, permanent glaciers are a continuous source of melt water, which flows onto the main valley floor and renders it unproductive for grazing. Saif-ul-Maluk covers about 4 614 ha, of which 91 percent is grazed, 8 percent is under glaciers and rocks and 1 percent is the lake.

Upper Kaghan Valley

The valley covers 66 898 ha, of which 64 238 ha (96 percent) is grazing, 855 ha (1.3 percent) is forest (subalpine forests), 220 ha (0.3 percent) is cultivated land and the rest (2.4 percent) is glaciers, natural lakes and river beds. Valley bottoms in Burawai and Jalkhad are cultivated; elsewhere all possible spots are converted into sloping fields and planted with crops in late May or early June and harvested in September. Crops are irrigated using snow melt. Farmers get good yields, particularly of peas, and a good variety of potatoes is grown. These crops fetch good prices in big city markets, particularly out-of-season peas.

Plate 57. Transhumant herders and their livestock on the way to summer pastures. Upper Kaghan Valley, NWFP, Pakistan.


There are sparse subalpine forest trees on the side slopes of the main valley, particularly northwestern aspects around Burawai and Jalkhad. Fir, blue pine, birch and junipers are the main species. On old maps (published 1930) patches of forests are shown, but there is now only scattered to very open wooded grazing; forests are on the verge of extinction through heavy grazing and wood collection. On right bank slopes, occasional trees of blue pine and junipers, with a relatively thick scrub layer of Artemisia, are found near Burawai. Around Jalkhad, trees are absent on this slope. In Besal and Gittidas ranges there are no trees.

Jalkhad and Burawai ranges are mostly used by farmers who bring their livestock in summer, stay and grow crops. Nomads are found in huts or tents scattered in distant areas on the slopes. Besal receives graziers of many origins: Afghan refugees with sheep; nomads; and Kaghan valley residents. In Gittidas, graziers from Chilas in the Northern Areas exclusively graze the range. They have 5-8 temporary settlements, each of 50 or more huts in the valley. They bring all types of stock.

Saif-ul-Maluk valley’s altitude varies from about 3 350 m up to 5 490 m. Side slopes are very steep and most peaks have bare rock, while others are covered by icecaps or glaciers.

Plate 58. Transhumant herders carry hay (as head loads) to feed livestock during transit to summer pastures. Upper Kaghan Valley, NWFP, Pakistan.


The main valley has undulating, rolling topography. Elevation increases from Burawai up to Gittidas and in side mountain valleys. The valley bottom elevations are 2 955 m at Burawai, 3 080 m at Jalkhad, 3 161 m at Besal and 3 600 m at Gittidas; side slopes are much steeper. The Babusar pass, near Gittidas, is at 4 184 m. The main ranges run more-or-less parallel to the valley, which is oriented northeast to southwest. Side valleys are dendritic and dissect the main aspects. Accordingly the aspect of the left bank is northwest- southeast. Along the right bank, the side valleys have no pattern, running in all directions. The paired plots at range sites were laid out to represent all possible aspects. The slopes of these points were moderate to steep. Very steep slopes were avoided.

The soil of Saif-ul-Maluk is calcareous, pH 7.3, predominantly sandy loam, and the soluble salts are within safe limits. It has adequate OM, phosphorus and potassium. Average soil moisture content was 31.9 percent in July 1996; it was very low and plants were showing stress. Twenty soils were analysed for physico-chemical properties and 20 oven dried and their bulk density calculated (Table 11.3).

Soil bulk densities at all sites were much higher than normal, indicating heavy compaction, due to continuous seasonal overgrazing, which badly affects the water infiltration and storage capacity of their upper layers. Moisture contents in July - a potential growing season - varied from 7.1 percent in Jalkhad to 13.4 percent in Gittidas, which was too low.

Vegetation zones

Subalpine and alpine are the two major ecozones of the study sites. The subalpine ecozone is between temperate forests and the alpine zone; its vegetation has both temperate and alpine elements. Species well represented in the subalpine are blue pine, fir and birch among trees; and Juniperus, Rosa, Berberis, Salix and Cotoneaster among shrubs. Many grasses, grass-like forbs and other plants are also found. Scattered trees of the above species are present around Burawai and Jalkhad. The climax grazing vegetation in the alpine zone is meadows; tropical grasses are mostly absent. The major pasture types are meadows, shrubmeadows and shrubs (Khan, 1971). In the study area, 16 grasses and grass-like herbs, 49 forbs, 5 shrubs and 4 trees were recorded and identified. Vegetation covered 60-90 percent of the soil (Table 11.4), with forbs having the highest share (46 percent in fenced plots, 33 percent in open ones), with grasses (35 and 25 percent) second.

Saif-ul-Maluk is in a rain shadow (Champion, Seth and Khattak, 1965), so does not receive enough precipitation in the monsoon. Winters are very cold, with snow from November to April. Summers are mild and pleasant. In summer, after noon, strong winds blow southeast to northwest and produce local cyclones of mild intensity. In 1997, a telemetry observatory was established by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) as part of the Pakistan Snow and Ice Hydrology Project. August is the hottest month, with a mean temperature of 12.2°C, and the coldest is January, with a mean temperature of -6.9°C. Five months (December to April) remain below 0°C. Probably it receives about 7600 mm annually, mostly in autumn. The cumulative depth of snowfall may be more than 6 m. Figures are reported for Naran (2 438 m) by Champion, Seth and Khattak (1965).

TABLE 11.3
Physico-chemical analysis of soils from study sites.



Organic matter

Major elements




Soil size separates














































Silt loam














KEY TO COLUMNS: EC = electrical conductivity. TSS = total soluble salts.

TABLE 11.4
Vegetation ground cover (percentage) at alpine sites, averaged over two years.


















































The Upper Kaghan Valley study areas are in the subhumid boreal and semi-arid climatic zones, with long, frozen winters and short, cold summers; in early autumn, chilly winds bring temperatures down. Precipitation is rain in spring-summer and snow in autumn-winter. Relative humidity varies from 42 to 84 percent. Mean minimum monthly temperatures recorded for three years were -8.9°C in January. Mean maximum monthly temperature was 24.6°C both for July and for August. Monthly temperature range was 17.5°C (lowest) for August to 26.0°C (highest) for October. Temperatures are below zero from November to March. The mean minimum is below 5°C for 9 months, so the growing period is 3 months.

A diurnal mean temperature of 6°C and above defines the growing season for agriculture. During this period, mean temperature varies between 9° and 13°C (Arsvoll, 1995). Lunnan (1985) has defined growing seasons as the period between mean minimum temperature of 5°C so the growing seasoning in Saif-ul-Maluk is from July (11.8°C) to September (10.9°C), which agrees with observations on the ground. At the end of June 1996, about 80 percent was snow covered; about 50 percent was covered in mid-June 1997 and growth had begun in uncovered areas.

Botanical composition

In Saif-ul-Maluk, grasses and grass-like plants, other forbs and shrubs are found in different groups, patterns, frequency, cover percentage and composition. Microtopographic features and morphological and physiological characteristics of the vegetation give rise to patterns which vary in size and are found intermittently. For example, Juniperus communis is prostrate with spreading aerial parts, so its compact patches are found all over the pasture, but particularly on rocky ridges. Salix occupies depressions on cooler aspects. Species of Polygonum have extensive rhizomes and several patterns are usually visible in the pasture. Iris form more or less compact patches distributed all over the area, giving the impression of pure stands. Potentilla-Astragalus type vegetation is present. Though 7 grasses and grass-like plants, 46 other forbs and 10 shrubs were recorded and identified, most were very rare. Some species are at risk of disappearance due to overgrazing. Those that are locally abundant perform well due to their better morphological and physiological characteristics. Patchy distribution, due to the different patterns and grouping, rendered the step-toe method ineffective, as most of the rare species could not be intercepted on transect lines. Some were only present in protected or sheltered sites. The frequency of intercepted species was low compared to that in plots.

The large number (63) of species indicates the richness of floral diversity. Prevailing conditions suggest that more palatable (decreaser) species have disappeared due to heavy grazing. Most (17 species) forbs have poor palatability (increaser species); two are unpalatable and poisonous. Most shrubs were not browseable. However, woody species are a good source of fuelwood and thatch. Dry branches and stems of Juniperus communis and Salix are collected for fuel. Besides feed for livestock, some forbs have medicinal values, and locals use them to treat both humans and livestock. Fresh leaves or branches of some are used as food.

All four sites in Upper Kaghan Valley showed minor variations in species composition (cover percentage) and frequency. At Burawai, an Agrostis-Trifolium community was recorded. Frequency of Trifolium repens was 80 percent as compared to 40 percent of Agrostis gigantea. At Jalkhad, an Alopecurus-Taraxacum community was found, with 60 percent Alopecurus and 40 percent Taraxacum. At Besal, an Agrostis-Cerastium-Trifolium community was recorded with frequencies of 100, 90 and 100 percent, respectively. At Gittidas, a Polygonum-Taraxacum- Carex community was recorded with frequencies of 100, 80 and 80 percent respectively.

Hussain (1968) noted that range conditions were Low Good to High Fair. Visual estimates for this study indicated range conditions of “Fair to Poor”, with a downward trend. A few unpalatable and less-palatable species were observed. Among grasses, Stipa spp. were unpalatable, while Anemone speciosa, Aconitum heterophyllum, Gentiana tianshanica, Rhazya stricta and Verbascum thapsus were unpalatable forbs. Among shrubs, Ephedra procera and all trees were unpalatable. Many forbs were of low palatability, but none were toxic.

For the alpine sites, 16 grasses and grass-like species were recorded, but of these only Agrostis gigantea (20 percent in fenced and 15 percent in open plots) and Poa alpina (10 percent in fenced and 7 percent in open plots) reached over 2 percent of total cover. Forb species were much more numerous, at 48; Trifolium repens (20 percent in fenced and 11 percent in open plots) was present at all sites and had the greatest ground cover; others exceeding 2 percent were Potentilla sibaldii, Polygonum plebejum and Taraxacum officinale. Five shrubs were recorded, of which Astragalus candolleanus (5 percent in fenced and 2 percent in open plots) and Artemisia vulgaris (4 percent in fenced and 5 percent in open plots) had some importance.

TABLE 11.5
Seasonal forage production of high alpine pastures (kg/ha air-dry material).


























Total for season




1 100

TABLE 11.6
Annual forage production at Saif-ul-Maluk (kg/ha air-dry material; average of two seasons).




















1 040






Total for season


2 023


2 277

Due to close grazing and heavy snow in winter no herbage remains at the start of the grazing season (June). Only fresh growth after snow melt is grazed by livestock, which move upwards as snow melts, so measurement of forage production was only possible in caged plots. The estimated natural production potential of the Saif-ul-Maluk pasture was 2 277 kg of dry matter per hectare per annum (or season). Of this 45.7 percent (1 040 kg/ ha) was produced in August, 28.1 percent (639 kg/ha) in July and 20.3 percent (462 kg/ha) in September. The lowest production - 6.0 percent (136 kg/ha) - was in June (Table 11.6). Average seasonal (June- mid-September) yield in Upper Kaghan Valley was 1 100 kg/ha air-dry material. In June, the yield was 40 kg/ha; during July, 380 kg/ha; during August, 393 kg/ ha; and, in September, 287 kg/ha. Forage availability in Saif-ul-Maluk and Upper Kaghan Valley was lowest in June and highest in August (Tables 11.5 and 11.6).

Estimation of carrying capacity is based on available forage for well-nourished grazing animals. A proper use factor of 0.5 was applied, to leave enough stubble for soil protection or amelioration and for carry-over effects (start of growth next year). Both are important for sustained pasture productivity.

A mature cow of 400 kg is taken as the standard livestock unit (LU), for which the feed requirement is 8 kg DM/day, or 2 percent of its body weight (ICIMOD, 1995). This indicates that 1 LU requires 240 kg DM per month, and for the 90 days (mid-July to mid-September) of the growing season it will require 720 kg DM. The theoretical stocking rate each month varies according to the availability of forage. It is estimated at 2.2 LU/ha in August, 1.3 LU/ha in July and 1 LU/ha in September. This is possible only under proper use (50 percent utilization) and proper pasture management. However, the actual grazing intensity is very different from this estimated value.

Forage utilization

Average monthly and seasonal yield in caged and open plots were measured by clipping. The difference between caged and open plots yield was used to calculate forage utilization. Saif-ul-Maluk pasture utilization is very high due to overstocking. The highest cumulative utilization was estimated for August, as was the highest utilization of forbs. The estimated cumulative utilization (83 percent) for July to September was 33 percentage points higher than the recommended proper utilization (50 percent) (Table 11.9). The monthly and seasonal utilizations of Upper Kaghan Valley Pastures were 20, 66, 71 and 69 percent for June, July, August and September, respectively (Table 11.7).

TABLE 11.7
Pasture utilization (percent) during grazing season, Kaghan Valley.

























In vitro digestibility of the forage from alpine pastures (percent).

Location and month








































































Percentage dry matter, percentage ash and crude protein on a dry matter basis were determined. Grasses had the lowest ash content, forbs had the highest. Crude protein was highest in forbs, except at Gittidas.

In vitro dry matter digestibility was determined separately for grasses, forbs and shrubs (harvested leaves), but not sorted into species; all grasses were put together, as were forbs and shrubs. In grasses, digestibility was highest in July and lowest in September. Forbs and shrubs showed no set pattern (Table 11.8). On a seasonal basis, digestibility varied from site to site and vegetation type to vegetation type.

Herd movements coincide with sowing and harvesting of crops. Sedentary graziers start to move after sowing summer crops, and return for harvest. They go upwards from the second week of May to the third week of June, and start downwards in the third week of September, reaching home in the first week of October, the time of crop and hay harvest. Nomads start their upward journey from early May to the last week of June, when the wheat is harvested in areas near their winter grazing (Table 11.10).

TABLE 11.9
Pasture utilization (percentage) during grazing, Saif-ul-Maluk.

























Total for season (July-September)





TABLE 11.10
Timing of arrival and departure on pastures.

Sedentary Graziers


Departure upwards

12 May - 15 June

2 May - 1 June

Arrival on alpine pasture

20 May - 21 June

25 May - 21 June

Stay on alpine pasture

3-6 months

3 months

Departure downwards

Third week of September

Third week of September

Days spent on journey

2-7 days

20 days

Arrival at lowland base

First week of October

First week of October

Stay in lowlands

8 months

7 months

Sedentary graziers travel on the main road, stopping at seven sites for one night, where they give the livestock hay. Nomads use three routes: many move along ridges and mountain tops on the left and right sides of the Kunhar River; a few use the main valley road. They make 23 stops on right or left sides and 13 stops on main roads. At each stop, they stay for one or two nights and graze the livestock. They cover 15-24 km daily before camping.

At their final camp sites, both groups herd their stock daily for 9-11 hours. Water is provided daily and salt once in 9-10 days. Sedentary graziers use Suj to Besal pastures in summer, and Kaghan, Balakot and Shohal in autumn and winter. A few move some stock, particularly buffaloes, to Haripur for winter feeding on sown crops; in such cases only a few men move. Nomads graze about eight of the pastures in summer, and Haripur, Khanpur, Taxila and Attock pastures in autumn through spring.

Home and household

Nomads drive all their stock to high altitudes with the whole family; they have no permanent hutments in the winter grazing areas, so everybody has to move. Sedentary graziers have houses in lower parts of the Kaghan valley; one or two milch animals remain at home to meet the needs of household members who stay behind. Sick and elderly people do not move with livestock. Male members move between the summer huts and permanent homes in the lower valley to take care of the remaining members and stock. Households decide independently on livestock movements, sale and purchase of stock and products. Decision-making processes vary between groups. Decisions are said to be made by male household heads among sedentary graziers. Nomads consult their wives and make collective decisions.

Grazing rights and fees

Local communities have rights and concessions for grazing and grass cutting in all the State forests of Kaghan valley; these are exercised by local people, unless prohibited on silvicultural grounds, in part of the forest land. Similarly, full rights and concession are exercised in the community forests, known as guzara in NWFP. Grazing on common lands, and individually owned land after harvesting hay, is allowed. The catchment of Lake Saif-ul-Maluk belongs to the famous Sayed community of Kaghan but is used by a mixed usufruct group from Phagal village and other nomadic and semi-nomadic people. The semi-nomadic group hail from Balakot, Kohistan and a few more localities of Mansehra district, while nomads bring livestock from as far as Taxila and Hassanabdal (Punjab province) and Khanpur and Haripur.

Graziers from Phagal and its vicinity have tenancy rights, so do not pay grazing fees to landowners. Other graziers pay a pre-fixed fee, so they have demarcated the area arbitrarily and recognize ghair mahsuli (rent free) and mahsuli (rented) areas, and have built Dharas (huts) or tents there. There were seven units (sites for Dharas) with different names. Of these, graziers of Dheri and Kach Dara pay fees to the owners; other units are grazed free. Graziers of free grazing units do not allow outside graziers access, unless there is consensus; if so, nomads are allowed to graze stock for a nominal fee. Usually outsiders are not allowed. Nomads shift their camp sites during the grazing seasons within the allowed limits.

Tenants of Sayeds residing in the revenue jurisdiction of Kaghan town - from village Loharbanda to Naran town - graze free of cost as a tenancy right. Other sedentary graziers from Kaghan valley pay nominal grazing fees: PRs 2.00 per cow or buffalo; PRs 0.25 per goat or sheep; and PRs 0.50 per horse or mule. These rates were fixed during the first settlement of the District, in 1872, and, though not officially increased, are no longer applicable, and a fee not less than PRs 5 per head per season, or a lump sum, is charged for a particular site. A group buy it and pay according to the number of their stock. For example, there are two main owner families of Kaghan grazing: one charges PRs 100 000 per season for his chunk of grazing. These rates and fee arrangements apply to Burawai, Besal and Jalkhad sites. The graziers of Gittidas pay no fees as they claim it is their community land.

Winter grazing areas

These are dry subtropical, broad-leaf forest grazing lands. Most of Haripur district (NWFP) is in this zone. Haripur and Khanpur are two cities with large areas in the ecozone, where there are scrub forests (Olea-Acacia) and large tracts of grassland. Nomads graze their stock in and around these forests in winter and spring. Attock, Rawalpindi and Fateh Jang are adjoining districts of Punjab, with similar forests and grasslands. The area of winter grazing totals 75 456 ha: 21 616 ha in Haripuir-Khanpur, 8 135 ha in Taxila, 1 011 ha in Hassanabdal, 29 328 ha in Attock and 15 366 ha in Fateh Jang.

Most of these are guzara forests, particularly in Haripur; the rest is state owned. Large areas of community and individually owned grasslands are available for free grazing in winter in the foothills and lower slopes of the Himalayas, the Salt Range and Kalachitta, between subtropical thorn forests and subtropical pine forests, between 450 m and 1 525 m. A long dry season is tempered by winter, spring and monsoon rain. Precipitation is from 250 mm to 760 mm annually. Temperatures are high in June-July, with mean maxima from 29.4° to 33.3°C. December-January is the coldest period, with mean minima of about 10°C. Frost may occur in winter.

Botanical composition

Characteristic trees are Olea cuspitada and Acacia modesta. Shrub genera include Dodonaea, Withania, Rhazya, Gymnosporia, Monotheca and Carissa. Fifteen grasses were recorded, but only seven forbs. Shrubs (8 species) and trees (6 species) are much more important. Only two grasses are important: Chrysopogon montanus (13-15 percent) and Heteropogon contortus (9-14 percent). Forb cover was insignificant. Shrub cover was about 11 percent, of which Acacia modesta (4-6 percent) and Adhatoda vesica (1-3 percent) had some importance. For shares of the protective cover types, see Table 11.11.

The winter grazing lands of the nomads are also the summer grazing land of local communities, who harvest hay in September-October. Thereafter the areas may be grazed till spring. Nomads’ stock graze such areas both in spring and in late autumn and winter; there is very little forage available for winter grazing-browsing, and that is leftover stubble or re-growth. These ranges are overgrazed. They were evaluated once, in October-November, when available forage was 467 kg/ha airdry material. This is too low for winter and spring use by large numbers of nomadic livestock (Table 11.12).

Grazing rights and fees

Most forests in these areas are closed and nomads have no grazing rights. Illicit grazing in the forest occasionally leads to violent confrontation with the Forest Department. Graziers usually rent winter grazing or have arrangements with private landowners, to whom they give manure or other livestock products. It is difficult to procure grazing, and some buy fodder for grazing or stall feeding.


Both semi-nomads [those who drive their livestock for summer grazing only, while residing in the valley, or who similarly move livestock to the plains in winter] and nomads keep all types of stock: cattle (milch, draught and dual- purpose); buffalo (mostly milch); sheep (wool and meat); and goat (milk, hair and meat). They also have ponies, mules and horses. Cattle and buffaloes are usually nondescript crossbreds of the important breeds of the plains.

TABLE 11.11
Protective cover (percent) of Dara (Khanpur) and Thatha Khalil (Taxila) areas.



Thatha Khalil

Plant Base









Rock pavement



Bare soil



TABLE 11.12
Forage production of winter range(kg/ha air-dry material)






Dara (Khanpur)





Thatha Khalil (Taxila)










The Kaghani breed of sheep is small to medium sized, and are mostly white; males have horns. The liveweights of male and female are 22 and 28 kg, respectively. Annual wool yield is about 1.5 kg per head. Some Kaghani sheep have some Rambouillet blood, resulting in better quality wool and weight; males weigh 60-65 kg and wool yield per head is 2.5 -3 kg/year. Gaddi and Kaghani goats are kept in Kaghan Valley. Gaddi goats are generally black, fairly large and hairy; adult males and females weigh about 42 and 50 kg, respectively; they are raised for milk and hair. Milk is about 125 litres in 150 days; hair yield is 2 kg/head/year. Kaghani goats are usually black, with a well developed, compact body covered with long dense hair. Adult male and female weights are 35 and 42 kg, respectively. Hair yield is 2 kg/head and twins are common. The local cattle in the valley are Achi-gabrali, mostly crossbred with Jersey or Friesian or both. The weight of adult cattle varies from 300-350 kg. These are kept for meat, milk and draught; their milk yield is comparatively low.

Buffaloes are bought from the plains and brought to the valley for milking. The average age at maturity is 30 months for males and 36 months for females. Adult males weigh 500-600 kg and females 300-400 kg. Milk yield per lactation is 1 700-2 200 litres, with over 6 percent butter fat. In the Kaghan Valley, their weight and milk yield are lower. This could be due to the different environment, as well as mixed breed.

The high altitude alpine pastures are grazed continuously in summer by both nomads and semi nomadic graziers. Besides ecological adaptation, there are social, political and economic factors that force the graziers to continue this centuries-old practice.

The average number of livestock per household was calculated from data collected through questionnaires. The herd size of nomads was 149 head, of which 108 (72 percent) were goats, 40 (27 percent) sheep and 1 (0.8 percent) equine; they did not keep buffaloes or cattle. Sedentary graziers, on average, kept 12 head, of which 5 (42 percent) were goats, 5 (42 percent) cattle, 1 (8 percent) buffalo and 1 (8 percent) equine. Interestingly, they had no sheep. Yaks are not reared in this part of the country.

Nomads have clearly specified periods for breeding and lambing. Two-year-old sheep or goats are mated in September-October and lamb in February. For every 100 females, they keep 2 males, which are herded separately in non-breeding periods. Sedentary graziers have no specified time period for breeding or calving and lambing. The breeding age for cows or buffaloes is 4-5 years, with about 16 months calving interval.

Livestock products

Milk, ghee (butter oil) and wool are the main livestock products of transhumant graziers. Buffalo lactations are about 8 months and cows 7 months; milk production per animal is very low, with monthly ghee yields of 5.7 and 3.5 kg/ month, respectively; small ruminants have lactations of 4-5 months and give 2 kg/month ghee. Sheep are sheared twice yearly and yield about 800 g wool each. The market structures for sale of livestock and these products are known to the graziers, but the graziers consume almost all products (milk and ghee), except wool. Dung is used by the sedentary graziers in their fields; nomads according to terms and conditions, give it to their house owner or to landowners.

Livestock health

The graziers reported that fever, cold and tuberculosis are common diseases of transhumant livestock. They treat the sick and weak livestock with the antibiotic and anthelmintic medicines available in the markets. Most treatments are given in winter, when stock are near towns or cities. Medicinal plants are used when livestock are in alpine pastures. According to veterinary staff, the following diseases are common: anthrax, eczema, enterotoxaemia, haemorrhagic septicaemia, piroplasmosis (Red water) and pneumonia.

Wild herbivores

Major wild herbivores, such as ibex (Capra ibex) and musk deer (Moschus moshiferous), were once found in these pastures; their present numbers are not known; probably they are very rare. A few goral (Naemorhaedus goral) may be present. There are herbivorous rodents in the alpine zones.

Fodder and feed supply

Hay, maize stover and wheat straw are the major winter fodders available to the sedentary grazier, both from their own or rented lands and bought. Green grass is available to them for grazing and stall feeding from April to October. Sedentary graziers face serious feed scarcity in January and February. Nomads purchase some fodder (Trifolium spp.) and feed it together with tree leaves and twigs to livestock from January to April. Gazing is available from June to September. However, livestock in nomad flocks mostly depend on grazing throughout the year, and also face feed scarcity in January and February. Rarely, supplementary feed in the form of oilcake, molasses or grain is fed to weak or sick animals.

Hay is taken from the winter grazing areas (the temperate and subtropical humid zones in Kaghan Valley and the subtropical subhumid zone in the foothills of NWFP and Punjab province) of the nomads and semi-nomadic graziers. These areas are protected from grazing from mid-July to mid-September, and from mid-September to mid-October are cut by sickle for hay. Small bundles of cut herbage are air dried at site; after three or four days of drying the bundles are tied together to make bigger ones. These bundles (8-10) are stooked for further drying in the field. Finally, the made hay is collected and brought, as head loads, close to the stock huts or farmer’s house, and stored in the open - on the ground or occasionally in trees - where leaching of nutrients by sun and rain is common. These grasslands have medium-tall to tall grasses; a few are desirable, while most are intermediate to undesirable; all are harvested for hay at maturity. Hay quality, though not evaluated, is poor due to overmaturity at cutting, and poor storage conditions.

Constraints of the system

Analysis of the production and utilization subsystem indicates a number of constraints related to the resource, its management and plant growth. These are considered below.

Both grazier groups keep livestock mainly to meet their domestic needs, and sell stock when they need cash for social needs. The inefficiency of the system is obvious from its low productivity, resource constraints, livestock management factors and marketing problems. Important factors include:


Pastoralists’ perceptions of problems and needs

The prevailing land tenure and tenancy systems and the traditional land use patterns in the Kaghan valley are driving forces for transhumance to the high alpine pastures. Unequal land distribution forces less privileged people to move with their stock since they rely on privately owned common lands and public land for subsistence. [The term “privately owned common lands” means that a particular piece of land is collectively owned by the village or community and belongs to only the bona fide residents and land owners. The area is open to use by tenants and others (landless persons). Such tenants and landless persons are termed “rights holders” while the others are “land holders” or “land owners.”]

Nomads try to cope with the fodder and forage requirements of their livestock through transhumance, moving to pastures in different ecozones and purchasing crop residues and fodder crops for winter feed. Sedentary graziers neither grow fodder crops nor make silage. The absence of any technical input by the State to improved pasture management, and lack of appropriate technology, leaves them dependent on the traditional system. Production is not market oriented, although a marketing structure does exist. Livestock are kept for domestic use, with only surplus produce sold. Animals are sold according to the household’s cash needs.

Decisions regarding livestock are made by household heads; they are made individually according to household priorities. Sustained food and fodder supply and self sufficiency are the motivation and objectives. There is great potential for a participatory approach to improve systems if the State wishes to improve pasture management and productivity.

Detailed perception analysis and discussion in this regard was not carried out, but participants were asked about their problems related to livestock production. Both types of grazier, though in small numbers, raised five issues. Their problems were related to absence of permission to graze in forests; fodder shortages; losses of animals in transit; lack of facilities for transport of livestock; and restrictions by local people on access to grazing.

Nomads seem unaware of or unconcerned by their landless state, their lack of permanent settlements, lack of access to education and other basic necessities of life. Probably they have become inured to their hard, nomadic life over many years. Their life is very difficult and they are surrounded by poverty, yet they are determined to struggle hard. They face these problems with courage and hope for the best.

Potential of the systems

Prospects for improving management

The pastoralists of high altitude alpine pastures of the Kaghan valley follow ageold transhumant subsistence livestock production. Apparently they are not looking for change in the near future. Pasture production is constrained by physical environmental factors and is declining. Major causes of low productivity include poor shallow soils, steep slopes, dissected topography, loose rocks and stones covering large areas, scanty precipitation, low temperatures leading to short growing periods, cold winds and frosty nights. Superimposed on this, heavy grazing, lack of technical inputs, unsuitable tenure arrangements and poverty also take their toll.

Despite these constraints, application of sound management principles could improve the system. There is no, or negligible, scope for artificial seeding as most of the level to moderately sloped land is being cropped, and is still being converted to sloping fields. Natural improvement could be achieved through deferment and rest. Intensive grazing plans for remote and less used portions of the ranges could be another option. Patches of weeds could be cleared manually and resown with promising forages. Abandoned, sloping fields could also be sown with forages. Soil moisture shortage could be improved through water spreading and soil and moisture conservation measures. The owners and users of these pastures could be bound by rational land use policies. Trained and dedicated staff should be posted for such works. The range management service would have to be made a career-oriented agency.

Foothill ranges have great improvement potential. Rational and pragmatic policies, rules and regulation for their improvement and utilization would have to be drawn up. Unproductive forest areas could be converted into productive open woodland grazing and developed into productive forage reserves for the nomads if assigned on long leases to graziers.

Winter forage shortage in the Kaghan valley must be addressed. Fallow lands could be sown with winter forages and fodder supply could be improved from other areas.

This study attempted to analyse the high altitude alpine pasture pastoral production and utilization systems and assembled baseline data. However, this study highlights the need for comprehensive and precise interdisciplinary research. For holistic understanding of the systems, specialized contributions by both natural and social scientists are needed. This should lead to the identification of the most important elements and variables that influence the system. To achieve this, research will be needed in disciplinary application-oriented areas, including institutional improvements; grazing land rehabilitation and management improvement; livestock improvement; and fodder and cereal crop yield improvement.

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