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Vegetation of Nepal

Nepal is a mountainous country with a wide range of ecosystems due to a sudden change of topography and then reflecting climate. Once it was supposed to be a land of magnificent scenery and unique art and architectural wealth. It has become a fairyland with enchanting natural vegetation beauty. Forests are the largest natural resources of Nepal in term of land area coverage. Latest data available reveals that the country has 29.0 percent forest spread over 4.26 million hectares and 10.6 percent shrubland or so-called degraded forest occupying 1.559 million hectare area. Distribution of forest in Nepal is not uniform. Forest are in Nepal has declined considerably; the annual deforestation rate is estimated to be 1.7 percent.

Nepal has been divided into six bioclimatic zones

1: Tropical up to 1000masl

This zone includes Terai and dun valleys. The vegetation in a tropical zone is characterized by the dominance of Shorea robusta on flat terraces and alluvium deposits whereas riverine vegetation is characterized by grassland and deciduous forest of Acacia Catechu and Dalbergia sissoo along the stream of Bhabar and Dun valleys.

2: Subtropical Zone :( 1000masl-2000masl)

This zone is characterized by Schima-castanopsis forest in the east and central Nepal while Pinus roxburghii is dominant in the west (900m-2000m) on both north and south face to the dry situations in central Nepal. Alder forest occurs mostly in most situations. The association tree species of this zone are Engelhardia spicata, Acer oblongum, Micheliasp, etc and undergrowth, surface is dominated by Maesa chisia, Euraya Acuminate, Eupatorium adenophorum, etc.

3: Temperate Zone :( 2000masl-3000masl)

This region shows a great deal of diversity in vegetation types. In eastern and central Nepal, it consists of Laurel mixed broad-leaved deciduous evergreen Oak and Rhododendron forest. While in western Nepal distinct evergreen coniferous forest is dominant.

4: Subalpine Zone (3000masl-4000masl)

This zone is characterized by silver fir and Birch Rhododendron forest. Abies spectabilis is predominant between 2900m and the tree line 3850m. A continuous belt of this forest is found in central Nepal between 2900m and 3800m on the south facing slope. The common associations are Rhododendron sp., Viburnum cotonifolium, and Lonicer sp. Betula utilis usually occurs in between 33oom-3800m and sometimes penetrates into the fir forest in the landslide areas in deep gullies.

5: Alpine Zone :(> 41oomasl)

This zone is above 41oom and comprises the association of Rhododendron Sp, Caragana Hippophane Sp., Primula sp., Potentilla sp. And Androsace spare commonly found. According to the forest Act (1993), there are five subcategories of the National forest they are: Government forest, protected forest, commonly forest, Leasehold forest, and Religious forest. National forest in Nepal includes all forests, excluding private forests, whether marked or unmarked with forest boundary markers.

Forest plays an important role in the maintenance of ecological balance and economic balance. Fuelwood, fodder, timber and herbal medicine are supplied from the forest. Rural communities to a large extent depend on the nontimber forest products for their subsistence. It can conserve soil and prevent landslide and flooding.