Flora and Fauna of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal is a land of jade forests and fresh air. As much as 68% of the land area is covered with jungles. While the foothills and valleys are a refreshing green, the areas above the snow line are almost bare.

The southernmost tracts are dominated by sal (Shorea robusta), sisham, chir pine, dry deciduous and moist broad-leafed forests.  The temperate region above this grows oaks, deodar, blue pine, fir and spruce. In the uppermost climes, trees are sturdy with a vast network of roots (to help them tide over the weeks of burial under heavy snow). You’ll mostly find alders, birches, rhododendrons and moist alpine scrubs in the name of vegetation. The tough rhododendron, by the way, is an amazing plant and of terrific importance in the ecological chain. By attracting insects, which in turn attract birds, it forms a major link in high altitude ecosystems. The rhododendrons you see along the hillsides around Shimla from March to May are breathtakingly beautiful.

Himachal is the fruit bowl of the country with orchards scattered all over the place. Meadows and pastures are often seen clinging to the dangerously steep slopes. After the winter snow thaws, the hillsides and orchards bloom with wild flowers, while gladiolas, carnations, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips, lilies and other flowers are carefully cultivated. The state government is gearing up to make Himachal the flower basket of the world.

From thick sub-tropical forests to the dry alpine vegetation, Himachal home to a wide variety of animals. This includes the leopard, which is the most widely distributed mammal in the entire state, the snow leopard, ghoral (goat-like stout animal), musk deer which is the state animal and monal (a pretty bird in nine iridescent colours), the state bird. HP has 11 major national parks and sanctuaries – the largest number in the Himalayan region. The Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu – the first in the state – was created to conserve the flora and fauna of the main Himalayan range, while the Pin Valley National Park to conserve the flora and fauna of the cold desert.

At present there are 32 Sanctuaries, 2 National Parks and 3 Games Reserves.

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