Biodiversity of Eastern Himalayas: A Treasure trove of learning for students

Biodiversity of Eastern Himalayas: A Treasure trove of learning for students
Breath Taking Sikkim

                            Breath Taking Sikkim

The Eastern Himalayas have an amazing natural environment, with a rich variety of fauna and flora within a very small geographical area. The region is termed as a biodiversity ‘hotspot’ – one of only two in India (and thirty four worldwide). Enviro Trips team has conducted several research visits to the state of Sikkim to study Biodiversity & cultural heritage. Here are some highlights of our learnings from our research trips to the following eco zones

Trans Himalayan Zone extend from 4500 m to 5500 m with characteristic cold desert vegetation exclusive restricted to the north of Sikkim
Sub-Tropical eco region Zone Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary in East Sikkim and Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary in South Sikkim are the two protected areas in this eco region
Tropical ecoregion zone extends roughly from the foothills of the outer Himalaya to an altitude of about 1200m.
Temperate ecoregion zone The Temperate and Alpine eco regions are protected in four wildlife sanctuaries at Shingba (North), Kyongnosla (East), Pangolakha (East) and Barsey (West) and one national park namely Khangchendzonga National Park (North and West) Although Sikkim comprises only 0.2% of the land area of India, it contains an astounding 26% of the nation’s biodiversity (including 4,500 species of flowering plants, 550 species of birds and more than 600 species of butterflies).

The Tribes of Sikkim

                                                                                                                         The Tribes of Sikkim

The Biodiversity of Eastern Himalayas

Biodiversity of Sikkim

Should we be worried?

The leading causes of reduced biodiversity include

  • loss or fragmentation and degradation of natural habitats,
  • over-use of natural resources, pollution, climate change and the introduction of invasive alien species.
  • Habitats all over the world are changing because of disturbances created by humans – clearing forests, intensive industrialization, draining wetlands, building new settlements, mining etc.
  • Scientific studies also indicate that the global climate is changing with increased industrialization and burning of fossil fuels. This increases the levels of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere, leading to changes in natural climate, causing floods in certain areas and droughts in others.
  • Effluents from industries and municipalities, and run-off seeping into rivers, lakes and coastal environments negatively affect aquatic ecosystems.
  • Chemical pesticides used in agriculture can harm non-target wild insect pollinators. Environmental pollution can also kill organisms or interfere with reproduction, thus affecting their future population.

What is the administration doing?

Our interaction with various local and central agencies and officials showed that the administration has taken numerous steps since 2005 to ensure the protection of Sikkim’s biodiversity. Key step was to establish the The Sikkim Biodiversity Board in October, 2006 as a statutory body under the Biological Diversity Act to conserve the state’s biodiversity and regulate the commercial use of biological resources so that local communities get an adequate share of the economic benefit arising from the use of these resources.Commercial bodies harvesting natural resources from an area for economic benefit are required to obtain clearance from the Sikkim Biodiversity Board and deposit a collection fee. The Board is required to set up Biodiversity Management Committees at village and town level to help it in this activity.

Enviro Trips has designated the Eastern Himalayas as a Super Destination – one that is Bio-diverse, highly ecologically sensitive and home to communities and tribes that are custodians of Traditional Knowledge Systems relevant for the issues that our planet faces.

We aim to conduct high learning and high impact school trips in this region for middle and high school students from MYP, DP, IGCSE and ICSE Curricula, engaging them in experiential activities with well defined learning outcomes and thus sensitizing them to the need to preservation & conservation. Through such region specific, customized and curriculum aligned school trips, we aim to empower teachers to inspire their students in their quest for knowledge.

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