Western Himalaya

Host Institution: Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun

Western Himalayas represent a vast landscape that covers a large elevational gradient and corresponding changes in vegetation structure. The Himalayan foothills and Shiwaliks represent the low-lying areas (500-1000m approx) that are covered by dipterocarp (sal or Shorea robusta) dominated deciduous forests. The mid-elevations (1000-2000m) are mixed broadleaf and conifer forests and savannas featuring conifers. Beyond 3000m is the treeline where the vegetation is dominated by alpine meadows. In the highest reaches, 4000m and above, the Western Himalayas are characterized by arid shrub-steppes found in Ladakh and Spiti. A transect from the Himalayan foothills in the Rajaji National Park, representing the subtropical deciduous forest habitat, to the higher elevation subtropical and temperate forests and grasslands in Kedarnath and Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in the state of Uttarakhand is representative of this remarkable variation. This can be extended northwards into the arid shrub-steppes of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh to cover the entire range of Western Himalayan habitats.