About Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve
- The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (KBR) is the highest biosphere reserve in India reaching elevations of 1,220 m to 8,586 m above sea level.
- It covers 41% of the entire geographical area of Sikkim.
- It falls within the Himalaya global biodiversity hot spot, one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots.
- It has a range of sub-tropical to alpine ecosystems.
- The southern and central landscape, which makes up 86% of the core area, is situated in the Greater Himalayas which constitutes the Alpine zone.
- The northern part of the area accounts for 14% is characterized by trans-Himalayan features which includes Himalayan wet temperate and sub tropical moist deciduous forest.
- The Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP), situated in the core area was inscribed as India’s first “Mixed World Heritage Site” in 2016.
Natural Habitat: Flora and Fauna
- It is home to 4,500 species of flowering plants including 424 medicinal plants, 62 species of ferns, 36 rhododendrons, 60 species of primulas and 11 varieties of oaks 3.
- The fauna of KBR includes the Red Panda, Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Beer, herbivores species of Musk deer, Great Tibetan Sheep, Blue Sheep, Barking Deer, snow leopard, red panda and Himalayan Tahr.
- The reserve also has more than 500 species and sub-species of birds.
- It includes high-altitude pheasants — Monal Pheasants, Tragopan Pheasants and Blood Pheasants (the State Bird).
Cultural Habitat of KNP:
The cultural significance of KNP is portrayed by three different facets:
- KNP is home to a sacred site of one of the world’s leading religious traditions. The notion of beyul or hidden sacred land, extends to all of Sikkim and has its heart in the territory of Khangchendzonga National Park.
- The multi-layered sacred landscape of Khangchendzonga and the cultural and religious relevance of the hidden land (beyul in Tibetan Buddhism and Mayel Lyang, in Lepcha tradition) is specific to Sikkim and is a unique example of co-existence and exchange between different religious traditions and people.
- The indigenous religious and cultural practices of the Lepcha with regard to the ecology and the specific properties of local plants stand as an outstanding example of traditional knowledge and environmental preservation.
What are Biosphere Reserves?
- Biosphere Reserves are specified areas of natural and cultural landscapes that include minimally disturbed, man-modified and degraded ecosystems.
- These are meant for preserving genetic diversityin various natural biomes.
- Conserve the diversity and integrity of plant and animals within ecosystems.
- Safeguard genetic diversity of species through long-term in-situ conservation.
- Promote and facilitate basic and applied research and monitoring.
- Provide opportunities for education and training.
- Promote appropriate sustainable management of the living resource through most suitable technology.
Biosphere Reserves in India
- India has 18 biospheres reserves.
- 11 of these 18 are included in the WNBR.
- They are
- Gulf of Mannar
- Nanda Devi
- Great Nicobar