Urgent conservation needs in the Sikkim Himalaya biodiversity hotspot
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Sikkim is the second smallest state in India. It has a human population of approximately 619,000 and covers a mountain-locked area of 7,096 km2. Recognised as a biodiversity ‘Hot Spot’ of global significance, it is situated within the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot and is rich in affluent flora and fauna diversity. Eighty-three per cent of Sikkim’s land area is covered with forest distributed in five ecoregions: 1) Tropical, 2) Sub-Tropical, 3) Temperate, 4) Alpine Forest and Scrub, 5) and Trans-Himalayan ecoregions. Sikkim encompasses 8 protected areas covering 47% of the State’s total geographical area and 11 Important Bird Areas (IBA), declared by Birdlife International. It also has undocumented mountain peaks, glaciers, rivers/streams, high-altitude lakes and geothermal springs which are yet to be explored. Sikkim, with its high biodiversity, is situated in a fragile ecosystem of tropical mountains in the Eastern Himalaya. It is currently under threat of irreparable damage as a result of several factors, including the melting of glaciers due to global warming, floods, landslides, invasive hydrothermal projects, road construction, deforestation and the destruction of trees for fuel and domestic purposes, growth in tourism – and much more. All these issues must be properly addressed in order to protect and conserve the unique biodiversity of the Sikkim Himalaya.
FuenteBiodiversity, 20(2-3), 88-97
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