It includes Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Kumaun-Garhwal areas of Uttaranchal. It shows great variation in relief. Summer season is mild (July average temperature 5°C-30°C) but the winter season experiences severe cold conditions (January temperature 0°C to -4°C).
The amount of average annual rainfall is 150 cm. Zonal arrangement in vegetation is found with varying height along the hill slopes. Valleys and dons have thick layers of alluvium while hill slopes have thin brown hilly soils.
The region is gifted with a number of perennial streams due to high rainfall and snow- covered mountainpeaks of which Ganga, Yamuna, Jhelum, Chenab, Satluj and Beas etc. are worthy of mention. These provide irrigation water to canals and cheap hydel power for agriculture and industries.
In recent years the increasing human interference has led to the deterioration of the ecological system. Rapid construction activities in the form of buildings and transport routes and unscrupulous mining have led to the depletion of vegetal cover making the area prone to landslides, pollution. Receding glaciers and water scarcity.
Rice is the main crop of this region which is cultivated in terraced fields along the hill slopes. Maize, wheat, potato, barley are other important crops. Temperate fruits like apple and pear etc. are produced in some parts of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Similarly tea plantations have started in some areas of Garhwal-Kumaun hills.
The horticulture of the region is obsessed with the problems of financial crisis, long gestation period, lack of improved varieties of plants and high post-harvest losses (about 20% in packing, storage, marketing and processing).
This needs improvement in old unproductive orchards using the recent technique of grafting, introduction of new fast growing varieties of plants and development of infrastructural facilities. Environmental conditions of this region are well suited for the development of garden and plantation crops.
A more rational land use planning is required for the region. Land suitable for agriculture, horticulture, pasture, forestry respectively should be demarcated on the following basis: (a) agriculture on land of up to 30 per cent slopes; (b) land having 30-50 per cent slopes for horticulture/fodder development; and (c) all lands above 50 per cent slopes under tree cover. Better quality planting material should be made available to fruit growers. The region has favourable climatic conditions for growing temperate vegetables, flowers, and crops like ginger and saffron.
In order to meet the requirement of fuel and fodder, a total area of 30,240 sq. km will need to be afforested in the next 10-15 years. Populous and Selis species are recommended for dry temperate regalia (Basu and Guha, 1996, pp. 90-92).