An Approach to Determine the Diversity and Conservation Status of Bryophytes in Northern Sindhupalchok District of Nepal Final report Submitted to Rufford Small Grant Foundation, uk nirmala Pradhan June, 2012 Summary



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An Approach to Determine the Diversity and Conservation Status of Bryophytes in Northern Sindhupalchok District of Nepal

Final report

Submitted to Rufford Small Grant Foundation,

UK

Nirmala Pradhan

June, 2012

Summary

This study within the elevation of 1300 m to 3020 m brought a diversity of 137 species of bryophytes of different status categories. The diversity of this plant was least represented at 3000 meter of elevation whereas the diversity was recorded rich at the northwest part (1300- 1850 meter).

Distribution mapping of the species at different altitudinal spots was done and is developed on flex print poster in order to raise conservation awareness among publicly circle.

Epiphytic leafy liverworts like Frullania, Porella and Plagoiochila species were also reported growing upon the trunks of different tree species. Likewise some moss species were found growing on tree barks. They were Entodontopsis, Erythrodontium, Plagiothecium, Hypnum, Mnium, Thuidium, etc. Altogether 32 tree species at different ecological zones were identified within 1300 to 3000 m of elevation. Pohlia species mainly prefer to grow on rocks and Sphagnum moss on seepage rock cliffs. Identification of 63 invertebrates and 13 vertebrates was made which were reported in and around the bryophyte habitats.

Use of bryophytes was done differently in some village societies for making pillows, infant’s bedding materials and basal stuffs to support water vessel especially at Doring and Timbu villages of the study sites

Tourism promotion activity in this part has left adverse effect though tourism is one of the important income sources for the peoples of this part. Construction of road at various places also has left direct impact on this plant.

This study at different potential areas of the northern Sindhupalchok revealed that majority of the peoples were unknown about bryophyte and its conservation. Questionnaires were developed to this work and 10 % of the house holds were selected in each village community for door to door awareness program. They were also informed about the valuable and endangered bryophytes of their areas. This was done with interaction, books, photographs and real specimens.


Acknowledgement

This extensive work which was carried out at different areas of the Northern Sindhupalchok district was completed very successfully with helps and co operations received from various organizations and individuals. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the reputed Rufford Foundation for this funding which was very valuable and fruitful to come up with many new and interesting findings besides stimulating the local communities in bryophyte conservation in this region.

I am highly indebted to Dr. David G. Long, Senior Bryologist at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, UK, Mr. Bhaiya Khanal, Conservation Biologist, Nepal and Dr. Geeta Vaidya Shrestha, Senior Botanist, Nepal, for their valuable suggestions and recommendation to this work. Natural History Museum in Kathmandu is also acknowledged for providing me space and other facilities required for this work.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Mr. M. K. Shrestha, Mr. Rajesh Tamang, Mr. Amin Pun, Ms. Suprabha Shrestha and Ms. Sanam Prajapati, for their significant and dedicated research in the field. Mr. Jojo Lama and Bir Bahadur Tamang of Sindhupalchowk district are acknowledged for their kind support during field period.



All the local communities of Timbu, Doring, Nagote, Gumba, Tarkeghyang, Sharmathang and Melamchi Gaun are specially acknowledged for their Co-operation and help in this study.

Acronyms and Abbreviations

BPP

Biodiversity Project Profile

Km2

Square kilometer

C

Common

eds.

Editors

CITES

Conservation on International Trade of Endangered species of Fauna and Flora

e.g.

for example

FC

Fairly common

et al.

and other

GIS

Geographical Information System

m

meter

GPS

Geographical Positioning System

mm

millimeter

H

Humidity

max.

maximum

I

Indeterminate

min.

minimum

ICIMOD

International Center for Integrated Mountain Development

sp.

species

N

North

spp.

species (pleural)

NHM

Natural History Museum

sq.m.

square meter

R

Rare

0º C

degree Celsius

RSGF

Rufford Small Grant Foundation

viz.

namely

SPTDMC

Sindhupalchowk Panchpokhari Tourism Development and Management Committee

%

percentage


T

Threatened

*

new records

V

Vulnerable







VR

Very rare







CONTENTS

Page

Summary

Acknowledgements

Acronyms and Abbreviations

  1. Introduction 8

1.1 Background

1.2 Topography and Geography 8

1.3 Climate 9

1.4 Vegetation 11

1.4.1 Tropical Zone (below 1000 m) 11

1.4.2 Subtropical Zone (1000-2000 m) 12

1.4.3 Temperate Zone (2000-3000 m) 12

1.4.4 Subalpinel Zone (3000-4000 m) 12

1.4.5 Alpine Zone (4000 – 5000 m) 13

1.4.6 Nival Zone (above 5000 m) 13

1.5 Agriculture 13

1.6. Major Occupation 14

1.7. Major Festivals 14

1.7.1 Janai Purnima 14

1.7.2 Dasahara 14

1.7.3 Buddha Purnima 15

1.8. Economy 15

1.9. Significance of the Study 16

1.10. Tourism 16

1.11. Local Efforts 17

2. Objective 18

3. Methodology 18

3.1. Study Area 18

3.2. Research Sites 20

3.3. Routes followed 20

3.3.1. First Phase Field Visit 20

3.3.2. Second Phase Field Visit 21

3.3.3. Third Phase Field Visit 21

3.4. Ecology 22

3.5. Enumeration of Bryophytes 23

3.6. Assessment of Conservation Status 23

4. Results 23

4.1. Categorization of specimens 23

4.2. Vertical Distribution of Bryophytes from 1300- 3000 m 24

4.3. Endangered Bryophytes species 27

4.4. Rare Bryophytes species at Remote Northern Sindhupalchok 28

4.4.1. Panch Pokhari 28

4.5. Associated Higher Plants 28

4.6. Traditional Use 29

4.7. Faunal Association of Bryophytes Habitats 30

5. Discussion 31

5.1. Graphs 32 6. Conservation 33

6.1. Endangered and Protected species 34

6.1.1. Faunal species 34

6.1.2. Floral species 34

6.2. Conservation Awareness 35

7. Recommendation 37

8. Suggestions 38

9. References 39

Appendices

  1. Species Diversity of Bryophytes 41

  2. Species Diversity of Newly recorded species 49

  3. Fern Diversity associated with Bryophytes 50

  4. Gymnosperms 52

  5. Angiospermic Flora of First Phase Study 53

  6. Angiospermic Flora of Second Phase Study 56

  7. Faunal Diversity 61

Tables

  1. Monthly Mean temperature 9

  2. Altitudinal species Diversity of Bryophytes 25

  3. Quadrate reading at Nagote 26

Figures

  1. Map showing location og Study Sites 19

  2. Study Routes 22

  3. Pyramids showing Species Diversity of Bryophytes of 32

N. Sindhupalchowk

  1. Pyramids showing Species Diversity of Hepaticae of 32

N. Sindhupalchowk

  1. Pyramids showing New record to the Country 33

  2. Pyramids showing Vertical Distribution of Bryophyrs in 33

N. Sindhupalchowk at 1300 m -3000 m

1. INTRODUCTION
1.1. Background

A stepwise change in altitudinal pattern can be noticed approaching from the southern lowland to the northern Himalayan region. On the basis of the geographical structure this country is divided principally into three major ecological zones viz. Mountain, hill and Terai regions. The mountain region occupies 35.2% of the total area of Nepal consisting altogether 16 districts of the country. Only 2 % of the total area is fertile land fit for cultivation. So only in the lower valleys and river basins, the agricultural practices have been intensified. The hilly region is located between the mountain and Tarai regions. It has fertile land with moderate and mild climatic type. Occupying 42 % of the total area of the country, this region is more populated than the mountain region. The lowland or Tarai is the southern flat land which is in continuation to the alluvial gangetic plain of India. The increasing population pressure mainly by migrants from the hills is imposing serious impact on forest resources of this part.


This district encompasses many of the accessible and remote villages where literacy rate is still under minimum level. Poverty has become the main obstacle to many of those who wish to peruse higher education in Kathmandu or abroad, so they have to divert themselves fully to other professional activities like farming, business or others. Many youths of this district also go abroad mainly in the countries like UAE, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. for temporary employment purpose.
1.2. Topography and Geography

The mid-hill zone is of generally rugged mountain topography, so the altitude can vary considerably within a short horizontal distance. Thus, the mid-hills include deep river valleys well below 1000 m, while the nearby ridge tops may rise to more than 3000 m. accordingly, climate and the vegetation show great variation over a very short distance, and give rise to great ecological diversity and complexity. In general, the area rises towards the north, to the main Himalayan ranges, and up to 30% of these slopes are worked traditionally into innumerable terraces, which are extensively cultivated.


1.3. Climate

The climate of the region is very complex due to variation of the geographical features. A drastic change in climatic condition can be experienced within a short distance on elevation rise at the warm sub-tropical to the cold temperate zones. These zones are further influenced due to their location under the rain shadow parts.


Country’s major rain is brought by the monsoonal wind in summer that arises from the Bay of Bengal and entry into the eastern point of the country which later are spread over the country. About 80 % of the annual precipitation is due to this wind in mid June and the end of August. Mediterranean wind is responsible to bring pre-monsoonal and winter rain in this country. The southern side of the Himalayas and the northern Mahabharat range receive greater amount of rainfall (about 5000 mm) than other areas.
The mercury rise of this district go parallel to the altitudinal rise indicating maximum thermal rise of 26°C in May (upper temperate zone, 1500 m - 2200 m) and drops to below 0° C in winter. Temperature across country is predominated by the season, altitudinal variation, slopes and forest condition. South-facing slopes are hotter and drier than the face north. The mean temperature decreases by 5.5°C for every 1000 m rise in altitude and minimum temperature falls below freezing point in the winter on the upper range (over 3500 m) with snowing condition. The snowline in the east is at 5000 m and the tree line remains at 4300 m.

The monthly mean daily temperature in °C for a year from the elevation 1000 m to 3000 m is shown in table 1.



Table 1: Monthly mean daily temperatures (°C) for selected elevations.

Month

Elevation

 

1000 m

2000 m

3000 m

January

max

18.3

13.0

7.8

min

6.1

1.8

-4.5

February

max

20.4

14.5

8.6

min

7.5

3.1

-2.2

March

max

25.2

18.2

11.2

min

11.4

6.6

1.8

April

max

28.7

21.8

14.9

min

16.1

10.1

4.1

May

max

29.8

23.2

16.6

min

18.5

12.4

6.4

June

max

29.1

23.6

18.1

min

20.3

15.1

9.8

July

max

27.8

23.1

18.3

min

20.7

15.8

10.9

August

max

28.1

23.3

18.5

min

20.5

15.5

10.5

September

max

27.8

22.9

18.1

min

19.3

14.2

9.2

October

max

26.1

20.6

15.1

min

15.9

10.3

4.1

November

max

23.0

17.2

11.4

min

10.6

6.0

1.4

December

max

19.5

14.3

9.1

min

6.8

3.0

1.6

Source: LRMP (1986)
1.4. Vegetation

The changing pattern of altitudinal gradients display different ecosystem types of which 170 types have been mentioned in the CNRS vegetation maps (Dobremez, 1976, 1984 and Dobremez et al., 1985). Later, they were reviewed and concluded to 118 types by the BPP (1995) supported by the GIS unit of ICIMOD.


Dobremez et al (1976) have identified 118 ecosystems and classified Nepal into 4 domains and 11 sub-levels with following six vegetation categories based on an altitudinal classification (bio-climatic zones). The general use pattern of classification in most of the cases is as follows.

1.4.1. Tropical Zone (below 1000 m)

Tarai and the Shiwalik represent this type of Broadleaved forests with a total of 1,829 species of flowering plants and about 81 species of Pteridophytes (BPP, 1995a).


Shorea robusta dominates entire Tarai region. Other popular species of this region are Adina cordifolia, Aegle marmelos, Albizia spp., Anthocephalus chinensis, Anogeissus latifolia, Butea frondosa, Dillenia pentagyna, Dillenia indica, etc. The bryophytes like Asterella wallichiana, Plagiochasma pterospermum, Heteroscyphus argutus, Bryum coronatum, Fissidens sylvaticus, etc. are common in lowland region below 1000 m of elevation (Pradhan, 2008).

1.4.2. Subtropical Zone (1000 to 2000 m)

The subtropical forest represents the blend of Schima wallichii, Castanopsis indica, and Castanopsis tribuloides on relatively humid areas while Pinus roxburghii is predominant in drier regions. Coniferous forests are dominated by Tsuga dumosa (Thingre Salla), Pinus roxburghii (Rani Salla) and Pinus wallichiana (Gobre Salla) with Quercus and Rhododendron spp. This zone consists of more than 1,945 flowering plant species. The common bryophytes of this zone are Marchantia emarginata, M. polymorpha, Bryum argenteum, Pohlia flexuosa, Funaria hygrometrica, Pogonatum microstomum and so on.

1.4.3. Temperate zone (2000 to 3000 m)

Broadleaved evergreen forest is predominant in this zone which represents the mixed vegetations of Alnus nepalensis, Quercus lamillosa and Quercus semicarpifolia. Species of Lindera and Litsea. Tseuga dumosa and Rhododendron are common at upper parts. Other popular species found here are Magnolia campbellii, Michelia doltsopa, Pieris ovalifolia, Daphnephyllum himalayanse, Acer campbellii, Acer pectinatum, and Sorbus cuspidata. Rich diversity of bryophytes (322 spp.) had been recorded from this region (Pradhan, 2008). Polytrichum commune, Mnium confertidens, Sphagnum spp., Thuidium cambifolium and many species of Jungermannia are popular in this region.



1.4.4. Sub alpine zone (3000 - 4000 m)

About 177 species of endemic plants are accommodated in this zone. Betula-Rhododendron campanulatum and Abies spectabilis are wide spread vegetation in this zone. Different species of Rhododendron are found here. Some popular vegetation of this zone are Sorbus cuspidata, Sorbus microphylla, Euonymus tingens, Acer pectinatum, Salix spp., Lyonia spp., Prunus rufa, Acer caudatum, Acanthopanax cessifloia and Berberis spp. The notable Bryophytes of this region are Andreaea rupestres, Blasia pusilla, Brotheria himalayana, Polytrichum juniperinum, Pohlia cruda, etc. The IUCN 2000 World Red Listed Bryophytes viz. Andrewsianthus ferrugianeus, Diplocolea sikkimensis, Scaphophyllum speciosum and Takakia ceratophylla are also recorded in this region (Tan et al., 2000).


1.4.5. Alpine zone (4000-5000 m)

This zone is represented with bushy shrubs of Rhododendron setosum, R. anthopogon, R. lepidotum, Potentilla fruiticosa, Ephedra gerardiana, Berberis spp. and Cotoneaster accuminata. In river valleys Hippophae spp. and Salix spp. along with Saxifraga, Arenaria, Androsace species and alpine grasses are found. Some common herbs of this zone include Primula spp., Gentiana spp. and Corydalis spp. Bryoflora of this region are Bryum pallescens, Campylopus hardelii, Plagiochila retusa, Rhacomitrium crispulum, Sphenolobopsis minutus, etc



1.4.6. Nival zone (above 5000 m)

No vegetation is seen in this zone. Mosses and lichens can be seen scattered over snow melted rocks, cloffs, etc. The bryophytes recorded are Bryum argenteum (5100 m), Marsupella commutata (5200 m), Grimmia longiorostries (5350 m), Pohlia microstroma (6250 m) and Aongstoemia julacea (6532 m) which is the highest limit of moss recorded from the world.


1.5. Agriculture

The total area occupied by this district is about 252800 hectares of land, of which 1300 hectares are fit for agriculture while remaining 2,39,000 hectares includes non-usable and waste land.



Potato is the main cash crop in higher parts and has gained wide market even to Kathmandu city. Other common vegetables include soybeans, beans and tomatoes which grow mainly during rainy season. Cereal crops like wheat and maize grow up to the 1600 m. They also harvest wild edible mushrooms for their food but use their own traditional system to distinguish a poisonous mushroom from a non poisonous one. Among fruits, apple and berries grow well in higher parts especially above Bhotang areas. The good quality apple which has just been initiated to grow here has a wide market up to the Kathmandu and adjoining cities. The stored grains like maize, barley, millet, etc are grounded up into flour with the help of the locally made water turbines notice between the Timbu and Nagote villages.

The crosses of yak (Bos grunniens) and local hill cow (Bos indicus) and vice versa are called Chauri. Chauri farming is a main source of households’ income in the Upper Slope Areas of Sindhupalchok. The Chauris are reared under migratory systems, grazing around the


Bhairabkund lake areas during summer and feeding oak forest leaves during winter. Due to continuous lopping, the oak forest is threatened to its existing. The herders are abandoning the Chauri farming occupations and shifting into other businesses, mainly due to lack of adequate pastures, low production of Chauris, hardship, low return compared to investment and poor animal health care services (Pande, 2004)
1.6. Major Occupation

Agriculture and livestock rearing are the main occupation in this part. In geographically complicated terrains, the agriculture farming is less developed naturally due to small sized fertile land and lack or less access to transportation facilities. So people of these and adjoining areas are engaged themselves to other professions like the labour, porters, Government workers and other professions.


1.7. Major Festivals

1.7.1. Janai Purnima: This festival is observed in the mid of August annually when devotees from countrywide reach to Panch Pokhari to take their holy bath which is said to carry significant mythological belief. About two thousand peoples are estimated visiting this place annually.

1.7.2. Dasahara: This festival is observed in March/ April and lasts for a month. During this time, many devotees visit to Panch Pokhari Lake to worship Lord Shiva and to take holy bath there. They also pay visit to a locality at Chitre where a small fountain of sour water (water with high rate of basic elements) is located. They believe, this water may cure their contaminated diseases if they drunk it once in their life.

1.7.3. Buddha Purnima: Thousands of Buddhist devotees visit Monasteries at Tarki Ghyang, Ghyangkiul and Melamchi Ghyang in Buddha Purnima and other festivals related to Buddhism.
1.8. Economy

The major source of economy of this area is predominantly agriculture based with practicing of a mixture of harvesting of forest products such Uttis timber. Local people are gradually attracted towards cultivation of cash crops and vegetables such as Broom grass (Thysanolaena maxima), Potato (Solano tuberous), Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Lapsi (Choerospondias axillaris), etc. Dairy production and selling to the market is also another source of income for local farmers. Over 80 percent of total population is dependent on agricultural activities for their livelihood. Diversity in employment pattern has been also observed in recent years. Local people have increasingly engaged in business activities in Kathmandu, Sildhunga, and Khadichour area. Seasonal migration to Kathmandu and even different parts of India to earn some money for their livelihood has significant contribution to the local economy.


Next potential source of economy in this part is from tourism. Helambu is recognized as the trekkers preferred destination where physical facilities for tourists are well developed. Some of the villages are also operating home stay programs for tourists visiting this place. Good hotels and restaurants can be found in Nagote, Tarkyghyang, Dhupgyang, Melamchi Gaun and Sermathang. Panch Pokhari area is also under developing stage for tourist’s facilities. These areas are now accessible to tourists by public transportations.


1.9. Significance of this Study

Nepal Government's plan to promote tourism in this place though can be helpful to uplift the financial status of many of the rural people, may still leave equal impact upon the forest resources of this place. So this study of documenting the existing biodiversity of northern Sindhupalchok and peripheral areas has been felt essential before any damages can be made for tourism promotion.
Once baseline data is documented, the future follow up can be made easy by monitoring the degree of habitat alteration. If any impact is found in future, the village communities, local leaders and government organizations will be reported to add effectiveness in their conservation policies.
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