Welcome to the Land of dawnlit mountains
|The Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve is one of the few nature preserves around the world which are untouched from the modern civilization. Non of the parts of the BR is approachable by road and has to be approached on foot only. The huge gorges and the innumerable streams make it impossible to use animal transport. The health care and educational system are rudimentary. Other than the traditional agriculture, there is no any significant source of income generation. In short, it is a very difficult place to live in which is one of the deciding factor of having a very sparse population.
Introduction to the Area:
The Biosphere Reserve constitutes an area of 5112 sq.km. in the districts of West Siang, Upper Siang and Upper Dibang valley of Arunachal Pradesh. An area of 4095 sq.km. constitutes the core zone of the B.R. and 1017 sq.km. makes the buffer zone.
Due to the steep terrain combined with difficult weather as well as the lack of communication, the area has a very sparse human population. The approximately 10,000 people who live here are primarily of the Adi, Buddhist and Mishmi tribes with ten sub tribes Including the Pasis, Padams, Karkos, Pangis, Simongs, Ashings, Tangams, Komkars, Millangs, Dalbings, Membas, Khambas, and Idu Mishmis.
Overall, the B.R. is almost totally forested with villages and cultivations located on lower slopes and terraces edging the major rivers systems. In some parts, the forest appears as a continuous swath from the sub-tropics to the cold of the tree line. In addition, considerable territory in the BR lies at elevations above the tree line and this area features a very special array of plants and animals.
Two of the most exciting facets relating to the forest here is that in most of the Himalayas outside of Arunachal Pradesh one does not find natural vegetation stretching in an unbroken sequence from the tropics to the mountain tundra. Arunachal Pradesh is the finest stronghold for this type of continuity in the Himalayas. Secondly, in contrast to other areas of the Himalayas outside of Arunachal Pradesh, the B.R. exhibits a wonderful extent of sub-tropical forest. Forests at sub-tropical levels are the most severely altered in the Himalayas and Arunachal Pradesh is the last stronghold for many Himalayan species dependent on this forest type.
I. Flora: The vegetation varies according to habitat. As the B.R. varies from approximately 500 to 6000 meters, altitude (with associated temperatures and rainfall variability] is a major factor in determining plant growth. Other factors are varying soils and differing exposures [the latter affects moisture retention). Other microhabitats include snow peaks [with algae in the snow and lichens on exposed rocks], glacial lakes, forest ponds and stream edge habitat. Thus over 8 forest or vegetation's types occur here: Sub-tropical broad leafed, Sub-tropical Pine, Temperate broad leafed, Temperate conifer, Sub-alpine woody shrub,alpine meadow [Mountain tundra], bamboo brakes, and grass lands.
The BR forms a part of one of the world's "Biodiversity Hot Spots". Tremendous speciation occurs here with over 1500 species of flowering plants expected. This area is possibly the center of origin for some crop plants such as the banana. Many NTFP and economic plant groups occur here. Medicinal, aromatic, timber, fodder and fuel plants could be mentioned. Among ornamental plants there is a rich representation of Orchids, Rhododendrons and Primulas. The rare orchid, Vanda stangeana, lives here as do over 50 species of rhododendrons. For some plant genera and families, this area may be part of where they initially diversified [i.e. the cradle of speciation]. The Rhododendron genus may be thought of in this context.
It provides shelter for saprophytes like Monotropa uniflora, Epipogium spp., and Gastrodia sp.
Parasitic plants such as Balanophora sp., Boescheckia sp., Galeola sp. flourish here.
Some plants listed in "primitive" families are seen here including Mangletia gaveana, Magnolia campbellii, Schizandra neglecta, Holbelia latifolia, and various species. of Ranunculus.
Only a few of the many rare and endangered species here include Cyathea sp., Angiopteris sp., Livingstonia sp., Coptees teeta and Amenototaxus sp. As would be expected, local medical healers have a remarkable storehouse of knowledge relating to their environment and thus the BR has an important socio-economic significance due to its ethno-biological richness.
II. Fauna: This Biosphere Reserve is a treasure house for a rich and diverse fauna. Some of the species here are endemic to the eastern Himalayas; many of these as well as others are listed at endangered. At this date no major survey expedition has been undertaken except for some study tours by the State Forest Research Institute. Some scientific studies are being undertaken by different Researchers funded by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India and reports of which are awaited. The tour reports of the Director DDBR, wildlife officials and notes available from various scientists and other sources the following is known:
Insects: 45 species of insects including moths and butterflies.
invertebrates including arachnids: no reports to date.
Fish: Hill trouts observed.
Amphibians: the B.R. houses an impressive array of forest frogs. For example,at the 2000 meter level in some of the B.R. forests a wonderful chorus of frogs breaks out just after dark, often with four or more species calling at the same time. These have not been thoroughly studied and may well include species new to science.
However, the documentation of the flora, fauna and socio-cultural aspect of the people living in the periphery of the BR needs the immediated attention along with enhancement of the skills of the managers.
Pekyom Ringu, Director Dihang Biosphere Reserve