SIKKIM: THE PARADISE
Sikkim, the tiny
mountainous State situated at the flank of the eastern Himalaya
between 27 05’-28 09’ north latitude and 87 57’-88 56’ east longitude
having a total area of 7300 sq. km. is popularly known as the
paradise of naturalists. Because of its variable climate conditions
and topography, there is a reciprocal relationship between its
area and bio-diversity. The State not only has exceptional scenic
beauty but is equally rich in its bio-wealth.
Because of its
elevations the rainfall in the State varies from 500 mm to 5000
mm per year. Though Arctic conditions are quite common in the
higher elevations, the temperature varies between as high as 30
degrees Celsius to below 0 degree Celsius with relative humidity
up to 95 per cent. With only about 0.2 per cent of the total geographical
area of the country, the State shelters around 25 per cent of
the flowering plants of India. It provides a luxuriant floral
diversity comprising about 4500 species of flowering plants, about
350 species of bryophytes and fungi and about 250 species of lichens
and algae. Its unique geographical position, varied topography
and high annual rainfall make the State a treasure house of flowering
plants. The vegetation of tropical forests occurring up to 900
metres consists of moist deciduous to semi-evergreen tree species.
forests are confined between 1500 and 3500 metres altitude. In
the higher elevations coniferous forests are ubiquitous. The Alpine
vegetation occurs above 3500 metres and up to the snow line. The
lower altitudes of this zone comprise the shrub species.
Sikkim is famous
for its orchids. They are most beautiful. The State has about
45 per cent of orchid species found in India. Orchids have a great
potential of commercialization. The flowers look exquisite and
beautiful and bloom in various shapes, sizes and colours. Besides,
they also have medicinal value.
The faunal diversity
in Sikkim is also remarkable. The animals in the State are estimated
to comprise about 150 species of mammals, more than 550 species
of birds, 26 species of reptiles, 11 species of amphibians, 48
species of fishes and more than 600 species of butterflies.
of this bio-diversity is possible only by adopting suitable management
practices to preserve all elements of the ecosystem. The first
step in this direction is to stop further destruction, fragmentation,
depletion and degradation of forests and to ensure their adequate
regeneration. Legal and administrative measures like strict control
of habitat and regulated extraction needs to be undertaken. Above
all, the people by and large would have to be fully involved in
preserving the unique bio-diversity of Sikkim. (PIB Features)
from Debabrata Maity, Associated with the Botanical Survey of
India, Sikkim Himalayan Circle, Gangtok.