Kanchenjunga Conservation Area

The Kangchenjunga Conservation Area lies in the Taplejung district, bordered by Sikkim(India) in the east and Tibet (China) in the north. The area represents high mountain physiographic regions with 65% of its area covered by rocks and ice. The remaining 35% is covered by forests (14.1%). shrubland (10.1%), Grassland (9.2%) and Agricultural land(1.6). The area is well know for its three river valley: the Simbua Khola, the Ghunsa and the Tamur valleys.

General Information:

Landscape: Kangchenjunga Protected Area Type: Conservation Area
Established Year: 1998 Area: 2035 sq. km.

Geographical Features:

Country: Nepal
District(s): Taplejung, Northeastern Nepal
Latitude:
Min: 27.4808848236 Max: 27.95139141357
Longitude:
Min: 87.65209272116 Max: 88.20179957115
Altitude:
From: 1200 meter To: 8586 meter
Average rainfall (m): 1775
Climate: Climate varies from subtropical monsoon and humid summer at the lower elevations to cold and wet winter in the alpine region. Number of frost days are generally high.

Biodiversity Features:

Province: Himalayan Highlands
Biomes: Mixed mountain systems
Vegetation: Represented by subtropical vegetation in the lower mid-hills to alpine grasslands in the high hills and mountains Forest types include Rhododendron forests upto treeline; Larix griffithiana- Juniperus forest - a characteristic east Himalayan vegetation type - found in the two main river valleys of this area between 3000-3700 m; Coniferous forest of Abies sepectabilis and Tsuda dumosa between 2800-3500 m; Mixed broadleaved forest of Quercus sp., Castanopsis sp., Magnolia campbellii, Acer campbellii and Osmanthus suavia between 1200-2800 m; Sal-Schima mixed forest at 1200 m. 2500 species of flowering plants. 810 sp of flowering plants (Shrestha and Ghimire 1996). Largest families are Compositae (56 sp), Leguminosae (51 sp), Orchidaceae (48 sp), Rosaceae (45 sp), Ericaceae (42 sp) and Gramineae (40 sp). Largest genera are Rhododendron (23 sp), Rubus (14 sp), Pedicularis (10 sp) and Primula (10 sp). Important flora consitute Taxus baccata, Tetracentron sinense and Rhododendron sp.


Socioeconomic Features:

Community Structure: It includes four village development committees of Lelep, Tapeyhok, Walangchung Gola and Yamphudin. The conservation area has a lot of ethnic diversity and culture, approximately 5000 people of about 11 ethnic community live in the area. As the original settlers of the Upper Tamur Valley, the Limbu are the dominant ethnic group in the lower regions. The Sherpa/Lama people are in the higher altitude where they arrived from Tibet more than four hundred years ago. These Sherpas have a distinct culture and tradition from those in the Solukhumbu District in the Sagarmatha Region. Also Rais, Chhetris, Brahmins and others live in Kanchanjunga.
EthnicGroup: The conservation area has a lot of ethnic diversity and culture, approximately 5000 people of about 11 ethnic community live in the area. As the original settlers of the Upper Tamur Valley, the Limbu are the dominant ethnic group in the lower regions. The Sherpa/Lama people are in the higher altitude where they arrived from Tibet more than four hundred years ago. These Sherpas have a distinct culture and tradition from those in the Solukhumbu District in the Sagarmatha Region. Also Rais, Chhetris, Brahmins and others live in the area.
Natural Heritage: The Kangchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA) in the eastern Himalaya comprises some of the most stunning scenery in allof Nepal. Not only does this region host the third highest peak in the world(Mt. Kangchenjunga), but it is also a global hotspot for plant biodiversity. Botanist have identified twenty-three species of rhododendrons growing in the area. In this eastern Himalayan setting, glacial streams cut through high ridges creating remote and steep valleys where traditional farming practices are a way of life. Tuked within these hidden valleys, one can encounter rich forests that support more than 250 species of birds and endangered wildlife. A few days of walking will lead you to high-elevation pastures where yaks graze languidly and colorful alpne flowers bloom. Throughout the KCA, you will encounter a medley of ethnicities that continue to practice traditional subsistence lifestyles, their cultural and religiouu spractices adding to the area's ricjh cultural heritage.
Cultural Significance: The region has a mosaic of ethnic groups. The religious sites (temples and monasteries) in the area attest to Kanchenjunga’s rich cultural heritage. Local people combine agriculture, pastoralism and trade to subsist. Monasteries, chhortens, temples, prayer-walls are the icons of the conservation area's cultural heritage.
Livelihood strategies:


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: Department of National Parks & Wildlife Conservation
Park Head Quarter: Lelep
Conservation History: Recognising its rich natural and cultural resources, the government of Nepal in support of WWF's Living Planet Campaign declared KCA a 'Gift to the Earth' on 29April 1997. This was followed by the KCA being conferred a conservation Area status on 21 July 1997 fulfilling criteria that it contains sites of significant religious, cultural, archaeological or historic value; contains unique landform or geomorphic features; contains site of unique genetic diversity; and contains habitat essential for preservation and ehnacement of rare or endangered species. KCA, on 22 September 2006 was handed over to the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area management Council making it the first ever protected area ever to be handed to the community for their management. His Majesty's Government of Nepal declared a core area of 1,650 sq.km. in the Kanchenjung areg=ion of Nepal a " Gift to the Earth" on April 29, 1997. Thsi action was in support of WWF's Living Planet Campaign and was a commitmaent from His Majesty's Government to conserve the area's natural and cultural heritage. This core area was conferred area status on july 21, 1997 and declared the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area. Subsequently, the Conservation Area boundry was extended to 2,305 sq.km. on September 14,1998 to cover the four Village Development Committees of Lelep, Tapeyhok, Walangchung Gola and Yamphudin in order to promote community-based conservation.
Conservation Challenges: Regional efforts needs to be concentrated to effectively safeguard typical east Himalayan vegetation of Lithocarpus and Larix forests. Knowledge base of the traditional grazing patterns of yak and sheep herds will be essential. Importance of integrating biodiversity conservatin with economics can also be explored.
Conservation Efforts:
Transboundary Features: The conservation area with unique mountain ecosystems is envisioned as a tri-national peace park with Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China to the north and Sikkim, India, in the east.
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