Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

The Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary lies in the south-west corner of the West Sikkim district. It covers 104 sq. km across the razor sharp Singhalila Range, which marks the border with Nepal. In the south, the Rambong Khola separates the Sanctuary from West Bengal. The Sanctuary is accessible by road via Hilley, Dentam, and Soreng. The Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary forms a vital corridor connecting the Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in the north with the Singhalila National Park in West Bengal in the south. The site contains five forest types: subtropical moist deciduous forest (2,200–2,400 m), wet temperate forest (2,400–2,700 m), moist temperate forest (2,700–3,250 m), sub-alpine forest (3,250–4000 m), and alpine meadows (>4,000 m). About 600 varieties of rhododendrons, out of the 1000 known varieties in Sikkim, are found in this Sanctuary. It is also home to the rare Himalayan red panda and black bear. Meadows take over from above 4,000 m and are rich in medicinal plants.

General Information:

Landscape: Kangchenjunga Protected Area Type: Rhododendron Sanctuary
Established Year: 1988 Area: 104 sq. km.

Geographical Features:

Country: India
District(s): Soreng and Gyalshing District, west Sikkim
Min: 27.15151875752 Max: 27.27117322544
Min: 88.01121372077 Max: 88.23867858202
From: 1600 meter To: 3600 meter
Average rainfall (m): 250
Climate: The climate is wet and cold favouring the spread of the dominant genus Rhododendron. July is the wettest month, with the average annual precipitation being in excess of 250 cm. The reaches above 2500m receive regular snowfall in winter. Clear skies can be experienced only from November to May.

Biodiversity Features:

Province: Himalayan Highlands
Biomes: Mixed mountain systems
Vegetation: Forest types include Alpine scrublands, Sub-alpine Rhododendron forest, Fir-Hemlock-Oak Mixed forest and Broadleaved Evergreen forest. Sub-tropical forests at 2100-2400 m with Castanopsis indica, Michelia excelsa, Engalhardtia spicata, Juglans regia, Schima wallichii etc.; Wet tempertae forests at 2400-2700 m with Quercus lamellosa, Quercus lineata, Lithocarpus pachyphylla, Acer campbelli, Magnolia campbellii etc. and a host of epiphytic algae, fungi and orchids; Moist tempertae conifer forests at 2700-3250 m with Tsuga dumosa, Abies densa, Rhododendron falconeri, dwarf bamboo - Arundinaria sp. ; Sub-alpine forests at 3250-4000 m with scarce dwarf Rhododendron shrubbery mainly Rhododendron anthopogan, R. lepidotum, R. setosum, Juniperus recurva, Sorbus, Rosa, Ribes, Viburnum etc. ; Alpine forests at higher altitude with alpine flowers.Approximately 500 flowering plants. The dominant genus among the alpine flowers include Poa, anemone, Mecanopsis, Pedicularis, Potentilla, Primula, Aconitum, Delphinium, Caltha, Bergenia, Heracleum, Iris, Hedysarum, Myricaria, Bistorta etc. Five forest types are seen in this site: Subtropical Moist Deciduous Forests (2,200-2,400 m);Wet Temperate Forests (2,400-2,700 m); Moist Temperate Forests (2,700-3,250 m); Subalpine Forests (3,250-4000 m), and Alpine meadows (>4,000 m) (Sharma 2001). These diverse forest types shelter a wide range of faunal elements. This Sanctuary harbours some pure stands of Rhododendron, the dominant genus favored by the wet and cold climate along the Singalila Range and a variety of epiphytic orchids, ferns, mosses and lichens. Meadows take over from above 4,000 m and are rich in medicinal plants.

Socioeconomic Features:

Community Structure:
Natural Heritage:
Cultural Significance:
Livelihood strategies: Controlled tourism and livestock husbandry are the two economic activities ecologically feasible

Conservation Management:

IUCN Category: IV - Habitat/Species Management Area
Area of land and/or sea subject to active intervention for management purposes so as to ensure the maintenance of habitats and/or to meet the requirements of specific species.
Management Authority: State Forest Department
Park Head Quarter: Gyalshing District, West Sikkim
Conservation History:
Conservation Challenges: Hunting of wildlife, especially when they venture outside the protected area, permanent cattle sheds (Goths), grazing by stray cattle and encroachment in the form of cardamom cultivation in the buffer areas are the main challenges. Awareness drives have been launched in a big way and Eco development committees have been formed, trained and strengthened. It is hoped that with increased awareness and empowerment of the local community, these challenges will be surmounted soon.
Conservation Efforts: Is regarded as an important IBA on the southeast corner of Sikkim with Nepal as its western border and contiguity with KBR and Singalila, stretching from alpine meadows down to subtropical forests.
Transboundary Features:
Base Layers
Other Layers
  • Important Bird Areas
  • Protected Area
  • Corridor
  • Ecology
  • Globe Land Cover
  • Landscape
  • HKH Boundary