Wild foliage threatens Himalayan bloom

Rajendra Prasad Nailwal – Wild foliage threatens- R P Nailwal

With the onset of Monsoon, the world-famous Valley of Flowers lying in the upper reaches of district Chamoli of Uttarakhand in the lower Himalayas blooms every year with a dense variety of yellow, pink, purple, red and white and other colours of flowers.

However, a crucial question making its round time and again is whether the process of fast disappearance of some of the local indigenous species of flowers continues or has been checked.

It is felt this may be due to excessive human intrusion into the grand natural landscape.

Unique Wildlife

Environmentalists in the state have been debating about the excessive human interference being responsible for the extinction of some of the key varieties of flowers in the UNESCO declared alpine heritage valley known all over the world for its exotic flowers and natural grandeur.

This valley is also known for its unique wild life which includes snow leopard, blue sheep, brown bear, flying squirrel, and musk deer.

Interestingly, even some of these wildlife species are reported to be on their way to extinction. That is a different story.

Peak of Bloom

During the peak period of bloom, the entire mountain slope is dotted with patches of flowers that include giant cosmos, dahlia, daisy, king-size roses, and cosmos in that order.

In fact the trees in and around are also laden with season fruits.

However, as per the locals and environmentalists, this valley, which was first discovered by a young British mountaineer Frank Smythe way back in 1931, has lost much of its maiden charm, serenity and wealth of indigenous species.

“Over the years, excessive visits of the tourists as well as some tamed animals, many flower varieties have gone into extinction; they enter the valley and unknowingly plunder it. This way, many species have been crushed under their feet,” Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Magsaysay Award, winner environmentalist based at Gopeshwar in the headquarters of the Chamoli district said.

Excessive intrusion

Agreeing with Bhatt, yet another known social activist in the area, JP Maithani points out that road build through the valley area from Ghangaria to the Sikh pilgrim centre Govind Ghat up  near the snow line has also been seen as a factor responsible for  excessive intrusion of human beings into the valley area.

Some others  observing the gradual environmental degradation of the slopes  of the valley feel that even some herbal plants bearing medicinal qualities have also suffered due to  excessive arrival of the visitors. These include Begonia, Trillium, Marsh and Wood Lilly.

Among other factors affecting the species of the unique valley, according to observers, is the growth of wild foliage in and around the valley.

Rajendra Prasad Nailwal is a retired Special Principal Correspondent of the Times of India. He now lives in Dehra Dun.

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