Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve
A habitat to several animal species, the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in Uttarakhand is located in the northern part of the enigmatic Western Himalayas. The reserve graciously sprawls over the three districts namely Chamoli in the Garhwal Himalayas and, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh in Kumaon. Coordinating at latitude 30°08′ – 31°02′ N and longitude 79°12′ – 80°19′ E, the Nanda Devi Biosphere has an altitudinal range of 1,800 – 7,817 metres and is dominated by the majestic Nanda Devi Peak.
The Nanda Devi Biosphere covers an area of 5860.69 km2 with core zone (712.12 km2), a buffer zone (5,148.57 km2) and transition zone (546.34 km2). The two core zones of the Nanda Devi Biosphere reserve are the infamous Nanda Devi National Park and the Valley of Flowers National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The biosphere reserve includes forests, evam soyam (civil) forests, panchayat (community) forests, agricultural land, grassy slopes, alpine meadows (bugyals) and the snow-covered areas.
Vegetation at the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve
The vegetation in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve mainly consists of herbaceous species and scrub communities such as Rhododendron Campanulatum, R. Anthopogon and Salix Denticulata. Around 1,000 plant species including lichens, fungi, bryophytes and pteridophytes are found here. The reserve also harbours a high percentage of native and endemic species. Over 55% of plant species found here are indigenous to the Himalayas, over 10 are endemic and 225 are near endemic. About 224 species of plants are used by the natives of Pindari, Lata-Tolma-Malari and the Valley of Flowers areas for food, fodder and medicinal purposes.
Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve- Home to seven endangered animal species
The unique topography, climate and soil at Nanda Biosphere Reserve support the diverse ecosystem, habitats, communities and species that thrive here. The reserve also serves as a home to seven endangered species like the snow leopard (Panthera Unica), Himalayan Black Bear (Selenarctos Thibetanus), Brown Bear (Ursus Arctos), Musk Deer (Moschus Chrysogaster) and Bharal/Blue Sheep (Pseudois Nayaur).
Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve- An eco-tourism site
The Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve is an abode to more than 15,000 people who reside here happily. The buffer zone includes 45 villages, dominated by two main ethnic groups namely the Indo Mongoloid (Bhotia) and Indo-Aryan. The transition area includes over 55 villages. The snow-veiled peaks, the silvery glaciers, the Himalayan flora-fauna, colossal valleys, meadows, gurgling rivers and rich culture of the native communities make the Biosphere Reserve ideal for eco-tourism.