Physiography, Bio-geographical and Ecological zones

Physiography, Bio-geographical and Ecological zones of Pakistan


Northern Mountains

Comprise parts of the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges with a small part of the Hindu Kush

Western Highlands

Separated by the Kabul River, the Highlands consist of a series of dry, lower hills

Indus Plains

Consist of the flood plain of the river Indus and its major tributaries

Source: Biodiversity Guide to Pakistan, World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Pamir Karakoram Highlands

Himalayan Highlands

Anatolia-Iranian Desert

Indus Basin

Thar Desert

Source: Environmental Profile of Pakistan, August 1998


Permanent snow-fields and cold desert

Mainly above 4,000 m, these are the highest parts of the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindukush ranges. Found in northern Hunza, Chitral, and Baltistan.

Alpine zone

a.    Alpine Meadows
b.    Sub-alpine scrub and birch trees
Areas above the treeline in the northern mountains in Hazara, Gilgit, Chitral and Swat Kohistan. Alpine Meadows which occur below glaciers and areas where snowmelt provides more mesic conditions and Sub-alpine scrub & Birch forest which consists of narrow belts along stream beds and in ravines.

Himalayan temperate forests

Mainly on slopes having high monsoon rainfall such as the Galis, lower Kaghan valley and Neelum valley in Azad Kashmir.

Sub-tropical Pine forests

A fairly narrow zone between 900 m and 2,000m along the Himalayas.

Tropical deciduous forests

A very narrow band in the Jhelum valley, Rawalpindi foothills and Margala Hills in Islamabad. Late summer rain averages 1000 mm per year.

Alpine dry steppe

Steppe forest in northern latitudes is in valleys of lower Chitral, parts of Gilgit, Kohistan and Dir. Steppe forest in intermediate latitudes is found in Kakkar range, Takht-e-Sulaiman, Fort Sandeman, western borders of Waziristan and parts of Safed Koh, Malakand and Swat. Steppe forest in southern latitudes in the higher mountain ranges of northern Kalat, Chiltan and the high Sulaiman Hills.

Arid Sub-tropical habitat

a.    Monsoon-influenced
b.    Less-pronounced monsoon influenced
c.     Balochistan desert scrub
Rocky and hilly areas at around 900m from the sea level. Monsoon – influenced has humid summers and mild, dry winters such as in Karachi, Lakhi hills, Sind Kohistan, Kirthar and Lasbela. Less pronounced monsoon – influenced has regular winter frost and dry, hot summers as in the Salt Range, Kaala Chitta hills and eastern hills of Waziristan. Balochistan desert scrub has very cold winters and no monsoon influence such as in northern Kalat, lower Sulaiman hills and most of Balochistan valleys, Kurram valleys, and most of Waziristan.

Tropical thorn forests

Consisits of the Indus plains and Sand dunes, which occur in Thar, Cholistan, Sibi and Chagai, deserts.

Riverine plain or Indus Basin

Consist of swamps, jheels which are subject to summer flooding, the Riverine tract in the immediate vicinity of the rivers and the Mangrove forests mainly found in the Indus Delta.

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