Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (KBR) (which includes Kangchenjunga National Park in Sikkim), has an area of 1,784 km2, plus an additional area of 825.92 km2 in the buffer zone. The Reserve is representative of the Eastern Himalayan region containing unique habitats and ecosystems, dense forests, a rich array of flora and fauna, and high mountain ranges including the massive Khangchendzonga (or Kangchenjunga), the third highest peak in the world. With the total area of 2609.92 sq. km, the Reserve is spread across the south, west and north districts of Sikkim state in India. At its western extremity, the Reserve’s boundary runs along the Singhalila Range, which marks the border with Nepal. It is the main catchment area for two important rivers, the Teesta and Rangit. The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve was established to safeguard the diversity and integrity of biotic communities of plants and animals within the natural ecosystem, and the genetic diversity of species. It is also managed for research, education, and training. The Reserve occupies 36.92% of the total land area of Sikkim.

General Information:

Landscape: Kangchenjunga Protected Area Type: Biosphere Reserve
Established Year: 2000 Area: 2620 sq. km.

Geographical Features:

Country: India
District(s): North Sikkim
Latitude:
Min: 27.38488183098 Max: 27.91793220552
Longitude:
Min: 88.04136545132 Max: 88.65664435797
Altitude:
From: 1300 meter To: 8598 meter
Average rainfall (m): N/A
Climate: Climate varies in different parts of the Biosphere Reserve depending on the altitude and aspect. The spring and autumn is pleasant and humidity range from 70% in December to 92% in July

Biodiversity Features:

Province: Himalayan Highlands
Biomes: Mixed mountain systems
Vegetation: Forest types include Alpine meadow, Scarcely vegetated rocks, Alpine scrublands, Sub-alpine Rhododendron forest, Fir-Hemlock-Oak Forest, Oak forest, Moist Temperate forest, Broadleaved Evergreen forest and Temperate grassland. Tempertae broadleaved forests dominated by Quercus lineata, Q. lamellosa, Q. pachyphylla, Schima wallichii, Castanopsis spp., Acer campbellii, Engalhardtia spicata, Juglans regia, Michelia cathcartii, Magnolia campbelli, Cinnamomum obtusifolium etc. Mixed coniferous forests occur at higher altitudes with fir, birch, maple and willow upto 3660m. Patches of eastern Himalayan larch, spruce and junipers occur at 2740m. There is a belt of juniper with Rhododendron spp. associates from 3660-4270m. Above this are alpine scrub and meadows. Approximately 2500 flowering plants. In the alpine scrub and grasses, common shrub and herbs are Meconopsis spp., Primula spp., dwarf Rhododendron, Rheum spp., prostrating Junipers, Iris gentiana, Anemone, Delphinium, etc. Many medicinal herbs like Aconitum spp., Pichoriza kurrooa, Orchis latifolia, Nardostachys grandflora, Rheum emodi, Panax pseudoginseng etc.


Socioeconomic Features:

Community Structure: The expansion of the area includes settlements at Bakhim and Tshoka within the conservation area. Many settlements such as those at Yuksam, Sakyong, Chungthang, Menshithang, Lachen and Monguthang surrounding the park depends on the natural resources for subsistence. The Reserve is surrounded by rural villages. The population consists of Lepchas (early settlers), Bhotiyas and Nepalese. Nepalese are represented by Brahmin, Chettri, Newar, Tamang, Gurung, Rai, Sherpa, Limbu, Mangar, Bhujel, Kami, Damai, and Sharki. All households, the average family size of which is 5-6 persons per household, directly or indirectly depend upon agriculture for their livelihood. Communties living in Bakhim and Tshoka villages inside the park area are Tibetans and those in Monguthang are also of Tibetan origins.
EthnicGroup:
Natural Heritage:
Cultural Significance:
Livelihood strategies: Traditional farming, pastoralism and tourism are the three major options for livelihood. The region has a strong agroforestry base with many traditional farming practices. The economy is therefore mostly a mixed economy of agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry


Conservation Management:

IUCN Category:
Management Authority: State Forest department and Tourism department
Park Head Quarter: Gangtok, Sikkim
Conservation History: Kangchenjunga Biosphere Reserve was originally in the reserve forest status prior to its notification as a National Park and the local people had no land tenurial rights. In 1996 the area of this national park in Sikkim was expanded to 1784 sq km. The state and central governments then included more areas in this conservation area and given it a designation of biosphere reserve
Conservation Challenges: Increased pressure on high altitude pastureland, impact of tourism; overextraction of medicinal herbs
Conservation Efforts: Local community at Yuksam formed a Kanchenjunga Conservation Committee who are active at the community based activities for conservation
Transboundary Features: Migratory pastoralism, cross border toursim, protected areas management compatibilities across the border, protection and rehabilitation after transboundary natural clalamities, experience sharing and capacity building
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