We report on the potential for developing long-term fire histories from chir pine (Pinus roxburghii Sarg.) forests in the Western Himalayan foothills based on a preliminary study from a stand located in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. Rings from trees collected to develop a master skeleton plot chronology were generally complacent with false rings present during most years, but were crossdatable with only minor difficulty. The oldest tree confidently crossdated back to 1886, with good sample depth (5 trees) from 1911, which helped date the fire scars in cross-sections collected from three trees. Fire frequency as determined from fire-scar dates was high, with mean and median fire intervals of 3 years from 1938 to 2006. Fires were likely from human ignitions given the prevalence of human land use in the site. Fire scars were generally recorded at false-ring boundaries and likely represent burning during the hot, dry period in May or early June before the onset of monsoon rainfall beginning in mid-June. Although only three fire-scarred trees were sampled, this preliminary assessment shows there is a potential for additional samples from other stands to develop longer-term fire histories to better understand the role of fire in the ecology and management of chir pine throughout its range in the Himalaya region.
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Vol. 67 • No. 1