Nanda Devi National Park


Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR), the second biosphere reserve of the country, is spread across three districts of Uttarakhand viz. Chamoli, Pithoragarh and Bageshwar. With an area of over 6407.03 km2, NDBR is divided into two distinct zones, namely, the core zone and the outer buffer zone. There are two core zones, namely Nanda Devi National Park (NDNP) and Valley of Flower National Park (VoFNP). Both the National Parks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These Parks includes the catchment of Alaknanda River and its tributaries including Rishi Ganga, Dhauli Ganga, Pushwapati and Khiro Ganga. A number of peaks line the northern boundary of the core zone including Nanda Devi East (7434 m), Trishul (7120 m), Dunagiri (7066 m), Kalanka (6934 m), Changbang (6864 m) and Nanda Ghungti (6368 m), while Nanda Devi West (7817 m) is located within NDNP.

The varied topography of the area results in distinctive micro-climates with the forest composition showing a change along the altitudinal gradient, starting from dry deciduous forests in the lower elevations to alpine meadows above the timber line. According to various accounts, 800-1000 plants have been recorded from the reserve area (Samant et al, 2001). About 520 species of fauna including 29 species of mammals, 228 birds, three reptiles, eight amphibians, 229 species of arthropods, 14 molluscs and six annelids have been recorded from the area (Kandpal, 2010). Nearly 200 avifaunal species have been reported for the reserve (Sankaran, 1994). The important mammals are Snow leopard (Panthera uncia), Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos), Himalayan musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster), Bharal (Pseudois nayaur) and Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus). The area of the reserve lies within the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area.

The buffer and transition zone are inhabited by 47 and 52 villages, respectively. In recent times, the region has seen unplanned and unregulated development due to the increased demands of the growing population. Presence of prominent pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Sikhs viz. Badrinath and Hem Kund Sahib, has negatively affected the ecosystem of the reserve. Both the sites attract large number of tourists and uncontrolled infrastructure development has occurred in the transition and buffer zones of NDBR to support this mass tourism.

 Valley of Flower National Park  Cold-arid landscape of Niti valley in NDBR  Blue sheep in Niti valley

a) Valley of Flower National Park b) Cold-arid landscape of Niti valley in NDBR c) Blue sheep in Niti valley

©Pariva Dobriyal (a), Upma Manral (b), Amit Kumar (c)


  • Dinerstein, E. (1997). A framework for identifying high priority areas and actions for the conservation of tigers in the wild. World Wildlife Fund-US.
  • Kandpal, V., & Sathyakumar, S. (2010). Distribution and Relative Abundance of Mountain Ungulates in Pindari Valley, Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, Uttarakhand, India. Galemys: Boletín informativo de la Sociedad Española para la conservación y estudio de los mamíferos, 22(1), 277-294.
  • Samant, S.S., Joshi, H.C., Pant, S., & Arya, S.C. (2001). Diversity, nativity and endemism of vascular plants of Valley of Flowers National Park. Himalayan Biosphere Reserves;3 (1&2) :1-17
  • Sankaran, R. (1994). Ornithological survey of Nanda Devi National Park, India.