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Himalayan Dry Temperate Forests

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Dry Temperate Forests

General Description
Himalayan Dry Temperate Forests
These are open evergreen forest with open scrub undergrowth. Both coniferous and broad-leaved species are present. This type occurs on the inner ranges throughout their length and is mainly represented in the north-west. Dry zone deodar, Pinus gerardiana (Chalghoza) and/or Quercus ilex are the main species. Higher up, blue pine communities occur and in the driest inner tracts, forests of blue pine, Juniperus macropoda (Abhal, Shupa, Shur) and some Picea smithiana E.g. in Gilgit are found locally.

Based on ecological zonation five main types of forests exist in Northern Areas, namely, Montane Sub-Tropical Scrub, Montane Dry Temperate Coniferous, Montane Dry Temperate Broadleaved, Sub-Alpine and Northern Dry Scrub (Rao and Marwat, 2003).

Montane Sub-Tropical Scrub forests
These forests are found between 750 to 3,900 meters elevation and are divided into Dodonaea scrub, Monotheca scrub, Reptona scrub, Pistacia scrub and sub-tropical stream bed scrub. Montane sub-tropical scrub comprises of Capparis, Spinosa, Pisticia, Artemisia, Saccharum, Dodonaea, Berberis, Rosa moschata and Daphne oloides. This area is found along the Indus River up to Raikot and Bunji.

Montane Dry Temperate Coniferous forests
This zone contains dry deodar (Cedrus deodara), blue pine (Pinus wallichiana), fir (Abies spectabilis), spruce (Picea smithina), chilgoza (Pinus gerardiana) and juniper (Juniperus spp), both in pure or mixed stands. All the important coniferous forests are found in this zone. These are mostly found in district Diamer, some parts of districts Gilgit, Skardu and two villages (Sherquilla and Singul) in Ghizer district.
Juniper tree (shaped ALLAH word ) at Ziarat Balochistan
Montane Dry Temperate Broad-leaved forests
Broadleaved species are found in pockets within the temperate coniferous zone. The main species in this zone include oak (Quercus ilex), ash (Fraxinus spp.), poplar (Populus), willow (Salix) and Artemisia.

This is scattered scrub vegetation. Rivers and nullahs support sea buckthorn and willow species. Scattered and stunted juniper trees also grow on hillsides.

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Himalayan dry temperate forests:
These are open evergreen forest with open scrub undergrowth. Both coniferous and broad-leaved species are present. This type occurs on the inner ranges throughout their length and are mainly represented in the north-west. Dry zone deodar, Pinus gerardiana (Chalghoza) and/or Quercus ilex are the main species. Higher up, blue pine communities occur and in the driest inner tracts, forests of blue pine, Juniperus macropoda (Abhal, Shupa, Shur) and some Picea smithiana (e.g. in Gilgit) are found locally.
Temperate forests are mainly found in the middle altitudes of the Himalayas. They are found both along the main Himalayas and on the transition zone between itself and the barren cold desert areas. Dry temperate forests are also found in the drier parts of the Himalayas and the barren Transhimalayan region. The forests are usually found in areas experiencing temperate climate. Their altitude varies from 1800m to 3000m depending on local conditions.
Mixed Temperate Coniferous forests, also known as the western mixed coniferous forests, are an attractive forest typical of the moister regions of the western Himalaya, having a  mixture of temperate zone conifers like the deodar, blue pine, fir, and spruce. There may occur broad-leaved species mixed with the conifers in small proportions particularly in moist shady depressions.
Individual trees attain a height of more than 40 m through the height attained by the trees of this forest type is relatively lesser than those found in the very moist zone of the western Himalaya. This is probably due to the harsh climatic conditions prevailing in the drier parts.
This forest type is found in the main Himalayas and the transition zone between itself and the cold desert regions, generally between an elevation of 1800 and   3000 m. It is well developed in the upper Ganga valley and Kali valley of Uttarakhand, India,  and in the  Satluj valley of Kinnaur.
As the name suggests, it grows in areas of typical temperate climate. Summers are mild and warm with the average maximum temperature rarely exceeding 32 C. There is a short autumn season after which winter sets in. The first snowfall of the season may occur as early as in mid- November. Snow accounts for a considerable part of the total annual precipitation. In winter the temperature remains below the freezing point for a fairly long period.
Beyond Monsoon Range in areas included Naran, Chitral, Gilgit, Ziarat, Neelam Valley and Kaghan valley, also on the higher parts of the Suleiman range to the north-west incl. Takht e Suleiman and Shingarh.
Locality Factors
The altitude range is from 8000-10000 ft extending 12000 from sea level on the southern aspect.
          Winters are long and cold and temperature variations also occur. Mean annual temperature is 5-16 Celsius while min temperature is below 0 Celsius.
Any form of moisture is called precipitation. Rainfall distribution is of great importance in this zone in which summer monsoon is weak but western disturbances bring considerable snow and rainfall in the winter and spring. November is the driest month. Mostly snowfall, rarely rainfall occurs. Mean annual rainfall is less than 30 inches. Snowfall varies from 5-20 ft.
Soil and Topography
§  Soil is shallow Rocky and not much developed.
§  Soil is basically acidic in nature.
§  pH of soil ranges from 5-6.5
§  Land features are mainly hilly and undulating. Steep rocky slopes are present.
§  Land sliding is also very common in the form of rock, avalanches and snow slides.
Biotic Factors
Grazing mainly by large ruminants i.e. goats and sheep is very prevalent.
Fire is less common (accidentally) and less destructive than the moist forest.
Domestic requirement is fulfilled by timber and firewood.
       The important types are
§  Dry oak forest
§  Dry Temperate Coniferous forest
Dry Oak forest;
The type spread around the mountainous or passing beyond the Himalayan moist zone through Hazara, Dir, Chitral, Swat, Neelam Valley, Balichistan and not found in Chilas.

§  Quercus ilex.
§  Juniperus excelsa.
§  Artemisia maritima.
§  Daphne oloides
Dry Deodar forest;
In the inner dry valleys of Himalayas including Hazara, Chitral, Chilas, Neelam Valley, northern areas and Azad Kashmir but no sharp can be drawn between the moist and dry deodar type forest.

§  Cedrus deodara
§  Juglans regia.
§  Prunus padus.
§  Indigofera spp.
Chalghoza Forest
ELEVATION: 7000-11000ft
§  Nothern portion of Zhob District, adjoining to D.I.Khan.
Major habitat of chalghoza Forest;
1.  Shinghar Hill (2500 acre).
2.    Takht-e-Suleman (50000 acre).
It is a slow growing tree spp. and it grows its diameter 1 inch/yr. There is no much demand of timber. Edible seed is important rather than its timber.
Seed ripened in September and collects in Oct-Nov. Annual production is 10 kg/tree yield.
Associated spp are.
§  Pinus gerardiana.
§  Ephedra nabrodensis.
§  Berberis spp.
Dry Juniperous Forest;
It is found in Chitral, chilas, Astore, para chinar, and some parts of Gilgit Baltistan. It is also present in 6 districts of Balochistan.
§  Quetta
§  Kalat.
§  Pishin.
§  Zhob
§  Lora lai
§  Ziarat
Associate spp. are Fraxinus, Xenthoxyloides. It is very slow growing spp. Growth rate 1 inch/year.
Dry Zone Blue Pine Forest
These are found in Gilgit, Sulaiman ranges, Chilas, Astore and Basho valley of Balochistan.
§  Cedrus deodara
§  Pinus gerardiana
§  Pinus wallichiana
§  Juniperous excelsa
§  Picea smithiana

§  Berberis lyceum
§  Daphne oloides
§  Astragalus spp
§  Artimisia maritima
§  Indigofera spp

§  Andropogan spp
§  Cymbopogan spp
§  Stipa pennata
1.    Medicinal Plants:
2.    Drier Fruits:
     Walnut, Chilghoza
3.    Possibilities of genetic improvement for deciduous fruit crops by native (i.e, Prunus spp)
4.    Aesthetic value:
Attracts people for outdoor recreation by panoramic views of artistic characteristics of Juniperous forest in dried areas.
1.    Communication problem for extension, development, and supervision.
2.    Insect/ pest problem on Chilghoza, viz Chilghoza cone borer.
3.    Seed production of Chilghoza is considerably decreasing due to borer problem.
4.     Lack of proper technology to enhance the area.
5.    Ruthless harvest and logging for domestic use and wood energy by the local people.
§  Cedrus deodara
§  Pinus wallichiana
§  Abies pindrow
§  Picea smithiana
§  Juglans regia
§  Juniperus species

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Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani is working as Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu ( Forestrypedia (, All Pak Notifications (, Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

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