Nepal, a treasure trove of natural heritage,is a relatively small nation of (25.8) million people where climatic zones vary dramatically within a short distance from the low lying Kanchan Kalan (67m) to Mount Everest (8848m),the highest point on earth.
Little known until the mid 20th century ,when the country was opened to the outside world, Nepal is home to 101 diverse ethnic group who even today practice centuries old traditions and religious beliefs which have changed little over time.
Nepal’s ecological zones run east to west and are vertically intersected by the river system. The southern lowland Tarai (67m-300m) continues to the Bhabar belt covered with the Char Kose forests known for rich wildlife. Further north, the Silwalik zone (700-1500m) and Mahabharat range (1500-2700m) give way to the Duns (valley),such as Trijuga ,Sindhuli,Chitwan.Dang and Surkhet.The Midlands (600-3500m),north of the Mahabharat range is where the two beautiful valleys of Kathmandu and pokhara lie covered in terraced ricefields, and surrounded by forests watersheds.
The high Himalaya (above 3000m) comprises mountain crests, alpine pastures and temperate limited by the tree-line (4000m) and snow line (5500m).Eight of the 14 eight-thousadenrs of the world lie in Nepal: Sagarmatha (Mount Everest 8848m),Kanchenjuga (8586m).Lhotse (8516m),Makalu (8463m),Cho Oyu (8201m),Dhaulagiri (8163m),Manaslu (8163m) and Annapurna (8091m).
The inner Himalayan are cold deserts sharing topographical characteristics with the five seasons: spring,summer,monsoon,autumn and winter. The high Himalaya acts as a barrier to the cold winds blowing from central Asia in winter,and forms the northern boundry of the monsoon (June-September).Winter rains are more pronounced in the western hills.The average annual rainfall is 1600mm,but varies by eco-climatic zones ,such as 3345mm in pokhara and below 300mm in Mustang.
Nepal holds the so called Water Towers of South Asia ‘with its 6000 rivers which are sow-fed or dependant on rain. The perennial rivers include the Mahakali,Karnali,Narayani,and Koshi Rivers
originating in the Himalaya. The medium-sized rivers like Babai,West Rapti,Bagmati,Kamla,Kankai,and Mechi Rivers generally originate in the Midlands and the Mahabharat range .A large number of seasonal strems,mostly originating in the Siwaliks,flow across the Tarai.
Of the 163 wetlands dacumented,nice are globally recognized as Ramsar sites.They are: Koshitappu Wildlife Reserve,Beesshzarital,Jagishpur reservoir and Ghodaghodital in the tarai ,and Gokyo,Phoksundo,Rara and Gosainkunda in the mountainous region and Mai pokhari (Illam) in the mid-mountain region.
The immense diversity in Nepal’s Flora and Fauna is remarkable.It’s Wildlife resources belongs to the palaerctic and Indo-Malayan realmas.The 136 ecosystems is confined to 11 bio-climatic zones and 9 eco-regions that are defined by ecological features ,climate,and plant and animal communities.
Comprising only 0.1% of land area on a global scale ,Nepal possesses a disproportionately rich biodiversity.Of the total number of species found globally,Nepal possesses 2.80% plants ,3.96% mammals,3.72% butterflies ,and 8.90% birds .Of 6391 species of flowering plants recorded in Nepal,399 are endemic.The endemic fauna are Himalayan fields mouse ,spiny babbler,Nepal Kalij,14 herpetofauna ,and six types of fishes.
Nepal’s 16 protected areas cover 19.67% of its land compared to the global average of 11% .Each of the nine national parks ,three wildlife reserves, three conservation areas and one hunting reserve cover varies geographical locations from the sub-tropical jungles of the tarai ti the arctic conditions of the Everest region.The world heritage sites of Nepal are: Chitwan National Park,Sagarmatha National park,Lumbini,Changu Narayan,Kathmandu Durbar Square,Patan Durbar Square,Bhaktapur Darbar Square,Swoyambhunath,Boudhanath and Pashupatinath.
There are more than 30 natural caves in the country out of which only a few accessible by road.The Maratika Cave (also known as Haleshi) is a pilgrimage site associated with Buddhism and Hinduism. The Siddha Cave is near Bimalnagar along the kathmandu-Pokhara highway.hara is caves namely Bat’s shed ,Batulecaur,Gupteswar ,patale Chhango etc.The numerous caves around Lo-Manthang in Mustang include Luri and Chhortens dating back to the 13th century.