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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, located in the Himalayan Mountains in the northern part of the country, includes as core areas the Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, which are one World Heritage site. Nanda Devi National Park has remained more or less intact because of its inaccessibility. The Valley of Flowers National Park is renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty. Together they encompass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalaya.

The Biosphere Reserve includes reserve forests, evam soyam (civil) forests, panchayat (community) forests, agricultural land, grassy slopes, alpine meadows (bugiyals) and snow-covered areas. The alpine vegetation mainly comprises herbaceous species and scrub communities such as Rhododendron campanulatum, R. anthopogon and Salix denticulata. These meadows harbour a large number of rare and endangered, native and endemic species. The area has a large altitudinal range (1,800 to 7,817 m) and is dominated by the peak of Nanda Devi. The unique topography, climate, soil and biogeographical location of the Biosphere Reserve gives rise to diverse habitats, communities and ecosystems, and a large number of ecologically and economically important species. Some 1,000-plant species including lichens, fungi, bryophytes and pteridophytes have been recorded. The percentage of native and endemic species is high compared to non-native species. Over 55% of the species are native to Himalaya, over 10 are endemic and 225 are near endemic. Among these plant resources, the inhabitants of the Pindari, Lata-Tolma-Malari, and the Valley of Flowers areas use 224 species for various purposes such as medicine, food, and animal fodder. Seven endangered mammal species find refuge in the area such as the snow leopard (Panthera unica), Himalayan black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster) and bharal/blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur).

Over 15,000 people live in the Biosphere Reserve. The buffer zone includes 45 villages and the local communities living here mainly belong to two ethnic groups, the Indo-Mongoloid (Bhotia) and Indo-Aryan. The transition area includes over 55 villages and is mostly inhabited by Schedule tribes, Schedule Castes Brahmins and Rajputs. The local communities practice marginal subsistence agriculture, rear cattle for milk and sheep for wool. Cultivation of medicinal plants, sheep farming, apiculture and horticulture are among the main income sources of the villagers. Local communities in the Lata-Tolma-Malari and Pindari areas are benefiting from the development of alternative sources of income, such as ecotourism, and from the improvement of a rich variety of agricultural activities. The snow clad peaks, presence of over 30 glaciers, occurrence of charismatic animals and birds, deep and vast valleys, meadows and rivers, and a unique culture of the native communities make the Biosphere Reserve ideal for ecotourism.The overall Biosphere Reserve is managed bv the Director/Conservator of Forests, who organises meetings 3-4 times a year in collaboration with the local elected persons (Gram Panchayat) regarding sustainable development and planning.
  Major ecosystem type   mixed Mountains and highlands
  Major habitats & land cover types   Temperate forest characterized by Acer cappadocicum, Juglans regia, Corylus jacquemontii; Sub-alpine areas with Rhododendron campanulatum, Abies pindrow, Acer acuminatum etc.; Alpine scrubland with Rhododendron campanulatum, R. anthopogon, Cotoneaster spp. etc.; Alpine meadows including Anemone spp., Primula spp., Polygonum spp., Saussurea spp. etc.
  Location   30°05' to 31°02'N; 79°12' to 80°19'E
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   640,703
  Core area(s)   71,212
  Buffer zone(s)   514,857
  Transition area(s) when given   54,634
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +1,800 to +7,817
  Year designated   2004
  Administrative authorities   Divisional Forest Officer, reporting to the Director / Conservator of Forests that further reports to the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State.
  Brief description   The two core areas, Nanda Devi National Park and the Valley of the Flowers National Par (World Heritage site), are securely protected for conservation of biodiversity, monitoring minimally disturbed ecosystems, and undertaking research and other low-impact uses such as ecotourism and education. The Valley of Flowers National Park is open for research and tourism. These areas represent a high diversity, endemism and representativeness. A well-defined buffer zone, which surrounds or adjoins the core area, comprises Reserve Forests and Community Forests. These are used for cooperative activities compatible with sound ecological practices, including environmental education, recreation and research. The transition area with 55 villages forms a “cushion” of the buffer zone and the same activities are taking place here as in the buffer zone.

Geology; Hydrology; Soil characteristics; Climatology; Biogeographic and environment hazard mapping in the high-altitude zones of the Himalaya; Designing, developing and testing sustainable natural resource management, models through participation of the local population; Studies on the structure, composition and changes of the vegetation; Regeneration of forest species in relation to canopy gaps; Ecological study of the entomofauna; Studies on biotic pressure - biodiversity - carrying capacity relationships in alpine meadows; Study on ecosystem dynamics; Studies of species and community responses to habitat alternation of the timberline zone; Inventorying, monitoring and conservation of aquatic biodiversity; Critical analysis of plant diversity with special reference to medicinal flora; Studies on animal habitat interactions; Management Information System for land use/land cover changes analysis in relation to conservation-oriented land use priorities; Study of socio-economic aspects for sustainable development; Inventory, commercial utilization and conservation of agro-biodiversity for sustainable development.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Climate, geology, geomorphology, habitat, hydrology, soil.
  Biodiversity   Afforestation/Reforestation, biodiversity, community studies/communities, conservation, ecology, ecosystem functioning/ecosystem structure, fauna, flora, modelling, monitoring/methodologies, mountain and highland systems, natural medicinal products, natural resources, perturbations/resilience/vulnerability, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment, species inventorying/inventory, vegetation studies/plant cover.
  Socio-economic   Agriculture/Production systems, economically important species, livelihood measures, local participation, modelling, resource use, social/socio-economic aspects.
  Integrated monitoring   Carrying capacity/Sustainability, land use/land cover, management issues, modelling, sustainable development/sustainable use.
  Contact address    
Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests
Paryavaran Bhawan, C.G.O. Complex, Lodhi Road
110 003 New Dehli
  Telephone   011 4364593 / 4360721
011 4361896
  Fax   011 4362551
011 4361712

Last updated: 03/04/2006

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