Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

  • It is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level.
  • It includes range of ecolines, varying from sub-tropic to Arctic (tundra), as well as natural forests in different biomes, that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats.
  • Its core area is major transboundary Wildlife Protected Area.
  • Its southern and central landscape which makes up 86% of core area is situated in Greater Himalayas.
  • Its northern part accounting for 14% of area is characterized by trans-Himalayan features.
  • The core zone of Khangchendzonga National Park already has been designated World Heritage Site in 2016 under ‘mixed’ category (first from India in this category).
  • Many of mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, Stupas (shrines) and hot springs in this biosphere reserve function as pilgrimage sites.
  • The core zone of this biosphere reserve alone has over 150 glaciers and 73 glacial lakes, the prominent is famous 26-km-long Zemu glacier.
  • It is also home to number of globally threatened fauna including musk deer, snow leopard, red panda and Himalayan Tahr and many ethnic communities including Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepalese.
  • Over 118 species of large number of medicinal plants are found in Dzongu Valley of this reserve which are of ethno-medical utility.
  • The transition zone of reserve is targeted for eco-development activities, afforestation, plantation of medicinal herbs and soil conservation measures.
  • Why in news? It is included in UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), making it 11th Biosphere Reserve from India to achieve this recognition.

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