Short notes on Montane Temperate Forests

These forests lie above 1500 m on the slopes of the Nilgiris, Anaimalais, Palnis, eastern Himalaya and Assam hills (1860-2850 m.). The climatic con­ditions are: annual rainfall more than 150 cm, average annual temperature 18°C with freezing point during winter months (December-February), and dense fog.

In south India these forests are locally called sholas which are dense (tree height 15-18 m) with much under-growth and many epiphytes, mosses and ferns. Magnolia (Magnolia glandifora), laurel (Calophyllum inophyllum), rhododendron, plane (Platanus orientalis), elm (Ulmus), prunus and plum are common plant species. Cinchona, wattle and eucalyptus have been introduced from outside. In north India oak, chestnut and laurel are common tree varieties.

1. Himalayan Moist Temperate Forests

These forests cover the entire Himalayan zone from Kashmir to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh between altitude of 1500 m-3300 m. Here average annual temperature is 12°-13°C, rainfall 100-300 cm and annual humidity 56-65 per cent. These forests contain mixed species of broad-leafed evergreens and the conifers (height 30-45 m). Oak, fir, spruce (Picea), deodar (Cedius deodara), celtis, chestnut, cedar (Chamaecyparis) and maple (in Uttaranchal), spruce, deodar, silver fir (Abies alba), kail, oak, yew, maple and birch (in Satluj valley) are important tree varieties. Deodar provides a fine durable wood for commercial uses. These forests also contain scrubs, creepers and ferns.

2. Himalayan Dry Temperate Forests

Dry temperate forests occur in Ladakh, Baltistan, Chamba, Lahaul, inner Garhwal and Sikkim in low rainfall (less than 100 cm) zone above 1500 m of height. Here xerophytes scrub with deodar, juni­per (juniperus), Farxinus xanthoxyloides, chilgozah (Pinus geradiana), maple, ash celtis and oak as predominant trees.