Ecological Zones

DSC_4413The great altitudinal range and the climatic conditions, low precipitation and the effects of westerly humid winds, have carved out distinctive ecological zones, which have been identified on the basis of researches on vegetation and on the rich faunal component associated to each zone.
The distribution of natural vegetation is closely linked to climatic and topographic conditions. The decreasing diversity in natural vegetation towards the north, it is due to increasing aridity; thus, the expansion of forests declines northwards.
A major cause of this, it is the significant difference in precipitation, humidity, and the varying periods
of snow coverage. The vegetation of lower sub alpine areas is influenced by arid to semi-arid conditions, whereas plants of the alpine and sub-nival level are influenced by humidity.
Each valley in CKNP provides agricultural lands and pastures at several distinct altitudinal levels. Most of the cultivated area and major settlements are along the beds of the major rivers, crops include Wheat, Maize and Potato while Apricot and Pomegranate are the most common fruit trees of the orchards. Populo plantation is very common within the cultivated areas and also as separated plantation for domestic timber use.

_DSC0322Alpine Dry Steppe (Artemisia-Steppe): The heterogenous moraine and gravel base of the valley floor and lower slopes are covered by sparse grass and bush lands and represent the lowest vegetation zone. According to the predominant scrub-species it is also referred to as Artemisia-Steppe.

Sub-alpine Scrub Zone: Riverbanks covered by scrubs and tree patches are located in the Sub-Alpine Scrub zone. They are distributed in narrow belts along streams, often bordering with small ravines on upper slopes. The Sub-Alpine Scrub zone is important for both livestock and mountain ungulate species like markhor, Himalayan ibex, and Ladakh urial, and it is also considered to be an important summer grazing ground for these species. The vegetation of this zone is represented by small deciduous species.

DSC_4440Alpine Meadows and Alpine Scrub Zone: The areas, accessible only during the peak summer season, host a semi-humid steppe with ‘open’ to ‘semi-closed’ forest in the lower-lying areas of this ecoregion (Intermediate pastures).

Permanent Snowfields and Cold Deserts (Sub-Nival and Nival Zones): In the high alpine and sub-nival zone at altitudes of about 4,200 m-5,100 m, patchy and sparse alpine vegetation forms final grassy seats that are accessible only in July and August.