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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

GHNP listed as tentative World Heritage Site

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The GHNP is one of the most picturesque areas in the Western Himalayas, well known for its exquisite floral and faunal biodiversity.

The boundaries of GHNP are contiguous with the Pin Valley National Park (675 km2) in Trans-Himalaya, the Rupi Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary (503 km2) in Sutlej watershed and the Kanawar Wildlife Sanctuary (61 km2) covering a range of wildlife habitats representing the biodiversity of Western Himalaya - from tropical to alpine. GHNP is the crucial link that connects the above Protected Areas making this region a compact patch of inter-linked wildlife habitats.

During the process of continental drift the Gondwanaland mass collided with Asia resulting in the formation of gigantic fold mountains of the Tertiary Himalaya-Alpine System of Eurasia. The representation of the flora and fauna of Gondwanaland as well as Asiatic landmasses can be observed in GHNP. The Park has representation off our ecological zones: (i) the dry deserts of interior Asia and the well-watered lowlands of the Indian plains, (ii) the Oriental and Palearctic faunal realms, (iii) the high plateau of Tibet and the jumbled Himalayan peaks, and (iv) The catchments of the tributaries of the Indus, the Beas and Sutlej rivers. Thus, the bio-geographical peculiarities and the wide altitudinal variation contribute to range of species diversity, spanning sub-tropical and alpine vegetation characteristic of South-east Asian forests as well as Siberian and the Asian steppes. The GHNP harbours a wide variety ofwildlife habitats and high biological diversity within a small area.

The flora of GHNP shows affinities with Mediterranean, Tibetan and Himalayan region. For example, Valeriana jatamansi, Dactylorhiza hatagirea, Taxus baccata, Leycesteria formosaare typical taxa which extends up to Afghanistan and west China. Other affinities that are met with here are in form of Hippophae of palaearctic region; Cedrus deodara, Viola biflora, and Poa alpina of mediterranean region; and Euphorbia of Peninsular India. In addition, the Himalayas have evolved a high proportion of their own endemic taxa, for example several species of balsams Impatience, Androsace primuloides, Hedysarum cachemirianum, Draba lasiophylla, etc. and Himalayan Tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus are well represented in GHNP. Occurrence of least disturbed temperate and alpine ecosystems in a geographical compact area, andinaccessible and rugged terrain representing the ecological, geomorphological and biological values of the North-west Himalaya make GHNP a significant area for mountain biodiversity conservation.

The GHNP harbours the most important gene pool of Western Himalayan flora and fauna. This includes endangered mammalian species such as Snow leopard Uncia uncia, Asiatic black bearUrsus thibetanus, Himalayan brown bear Ursus arctos, Grey Goral Nemorhaedus goral,Himalayan Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster,Himalayan tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus and Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis. Five species of pheasants, viz., Westerntragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus), Cheer pheasant (Catreus wallichii), Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impejanus), Koklas (Pucrasia macrolopha) and Kalij (Lophura leucomelana) are found here. The charismatic Western Tragopan is the most spectacular among the pheasants and aptly named the 'King of Birds'. GHNP has one of the best populations of this bird across its range. The Western Tragopan locally referred to as "Jujurana" (King of the birds) is revered in several folk songs and lores. According to folklore, god created this colourful pheasant with the help of the most beautiful feathers of each bird in the universe.

GHNP is an Important Bird Area representing birds of three biomes viz.,Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest (Biome-7), Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest (Biome-8) and Eurasian High Montane - Alpine and Tibetan (Biome-5).

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