Forest fire in the central Himalaya: climate and recovery of trees.
In the central Himalayan region, fires are common in Pinus roxburghii and Shorea robusta forests during the dry months (mid-April to mid-June), and are occasional in Quercus spp. forests. Studies were undertaken following a wildfire in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, at an altitude of about 2500 m on a NE-facing slope. Effects of fire on Quercus leucotrichophora, Rhododendron arboreum (evergreen species) and Lyonia ovalifolia (a deciduous species) in a broadleaved forest were analysed. Bark depth damage was greatest for L. ovalifolia and least for Q. leucotrichophora. Regeneration of saplings through sprouting was observed for all tree species. Epicormic recovery was observed for trees of all three species. Young trees of Q. leucotrichophora (<40 cm circumference at breast height) were susceptible to fire, as evident by the lack of sprouting. Under-canopy tree species had a greater potential for recovery as evident by greater length and diameter of shoots and numbers of buds and leaves per shoot than canopy species. Leaf area, leaf moisture and specific leaf areas were greater in the deciduous species, with few exceptions, than in evergreen species.