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Forest & environments

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In the warm valleys of the extreme southern part of the district some species of the trees of the plains such as mango, jamun, pipal, banyan and shisham grow here and there up to an altitude of about 915 mts. The 'Sal' which is found up to a height of 1220 mts., is seldom seen north of the river Pindar but it is usually not allowed to stand near cultivated tracts because it is said to attract white ants. The Tun and the Kharik, or Kharak are to be seen growing up to an elevation of about 1250 mts. which is also suitable for the growth of haldu and dhauri. Carefully proctected by the cultivator on the pugar (terrace wall of the field), the leaves of the bhyunl tree afford excellent fodder for the cattle.

In the Alaknanda valley, the bases, slopes, gorges and tops of the hills up to the height of 1067 mts. are well wooded with high trees such as catechu, bahera, har( or harara), amaltas, bel, kachnar and dhak. A large variety of creepers some of which have broad green leaves also thrive I in the vicinity of the trees.

From about 1220 mts to 1829 mts, Chir abounds and above this level oak and chimul are found, the former being a hard wood, is used for making agricultural implements and the latter for fuel. The Chir wood is commonly used for building purposes in the district, and its logs and sleepers are floated down the Alaknanda to the plains. Chir is also tapped for resin but quantity of turpentine produced in the district is small.

Above an elevation of 3439 mts. Moru or Tilonj and Kharasu grow and their timber is also used for manufacturing agricultural implements. The pangar or horse chestnut and the maple are found up to a height of 3048 mts., especially in the Riniganga valley. The wood of the latter is used for making drinking vessels and bowls known as lahauri-doba.

Spruce, silver-fir, kail and kharasu, oak and some trees of small economical value are the principal trees found in the forests of the upper Himalayas ( above 3048 mts.). Fine forests of silver-fir, kail and pine occupy the slopes on the left bank of Alaknanda from Pipalkoti to Joshimath. The Surai of Himalaya sypress and the Himalayan cedar forests which lie along the Alaknanda in patti Talla Painkhanda and the Neoza pine forests near Tapovan along the Dhauli, are fairly extensive and have trees of thuner (yew), papari (boxwood), Kharasu and deodar. The birch grows up to an elevation of about 3658 mts. above which lies an expance covered wih bush and grass variegated in summer by Alpine forests of many colours. The places of richest vegetation are between the elevation of 2134 mts. and 3658 mts. where the epiphytic form of flora, ferns, mosses, creepers and many varieties of flowers make the region beautiful especially after the rainy season. Colquhounia is abundant on the main Badrinath and Trishul ranges and ringals form the undergrowth of the forests uo to an altitude of 2286 mts.

Many medicinal blooms, herbs and plants, greatly valued in Aryuveda grow in the district. Most of the flowers and plants come up during the rains but wither away from October to May, imparting the characteristic brown color to the countryside during the winter.

In these parts Senecio rufinervis, a perennial herb forms a dense undergrowth to the exclusion of most other plants. Aromatic plants are found in abundance at higher altitudes. The groves in the district covering an area of 430.72 hectares are mostly in the warm deep southern valley and consist of chiefly of mango, guava, banana, papaya and jackfruit trees but apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, cherry, chestnut, mulberry, strawberry, litchi and loquat also flourish. Other cultivated trees of the district include species of citron of which the chief is malta, lime, sweet-lime and orange which, though thriving in the warm valleys, can also be grown up to a height of about 1677 mts. The vine is raised in groves where the rains are not too heavy.

The chief variety of timber trees found in the groves of the district are pine, tun, deodar and many varieties of walnut. The timber of the deodar tree is considered to be sacred and is noted for durability and resisting insect, pest and dry rot. It is great demand for making doors and roof f temples. In the past a very fine grove of deodars surrounded the Binsar temple in the south-western extremity of Tehsil Karnprayag.

Fauna

It is estimated that about nearly one-third of the worlds mountain species are found in the Himalayan region, which is mainly due to the diversity of the flora. Four fauna families, generally, abound in the Himalayan region are peninsular, the indo-chinese, the palaeoarctic and the Tibetan . It is the first two element that dominant. Rudraprayag district is rich in fauna and has been the habitant for very long time of a large varieties of mammals ,diverse species of birds, reptiles, insects and fish.

Aquatic life in the district display a mixed assemblage of wide variety of faunal and floral elements. Some important varieties of fish found are Mirror carp, katla etc.

A large number of insect are found in the districts, some of them are butterflies, snow flies , honey bees, spider, bumble bees , leech etc.

Snakes are not very common in the district but the cobra and the russel’s wiper are found upto a height of 1830 mtrs.

The phython, a protected species, has been found as far up as the slopes below the Tungnath range in tehsil Ukhimath . The red snake, which attains a length of about three meter is common it does not bite but strikes its victims with its tail, the flesh of the part so struck decaying. Non poisonous snakes also some time occur in the tanks near the temple of Triyuginarayan and to be touched by them is considered auspicious by Hindu pilgrims who bath in these tanks.

At higher altitude, butterflies are likely found even upto 5500 meters. The important butterflies families found at high altitude are the swallow tails , the nypphalids, the browns and the whites.

Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary - Is located in the Northern part of the district and cover an area of 966 sq. kms. As a result of increasing human interventions and the opening up of the area by road system, both plant and animal life had been under incessant pressure. The area is unique in diverse flora and fauna. The wild life found in the sanctuary are Musk deer, Snow leopard, brown beer, Bharal, Black beer, serrow etc among mammals and the monal pheasant, chir pheasant, koklas, Chakor, snow pigeon etc among birds.