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Pin Valley National Park fit for Unesco tag

 The 675 sq km Pin Valley National Park in Spiti, a unique biosphere and land of rare snow leopards and ibex, in the desolate desert of Himalayas, is being tipped as yet another fit candidate for the Unesco world heritage status.

The park attracts high-end nature lovers from across the world in summers.

Himachal won the world heritage title for the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) at Doha meeting of the World Heritage site on June 23, while the Kalka-Shimla toy train track is already a world heritage site.

The Pin Valley park was declared a national park in 1987. It represents unique biosphere of trans-Himalayan flora and fauna, including man-shay snow leopards, ibex, blue sheep, with rare Buddhist tribes living in and around the buffer zone of the park, botanists and conservationists said.

The recent and first-ever Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessment (CEIA) study of 38 hydro power projects in the Sutlej basin has come as a shot in the arm for conservationists. The study submitted to the state government has mentioned that the Pin Valley National Park in the Spiti valley lies like a crown on the Satluj river basin and should be made a no-go zone for the power projects.

In fact, the CEIA has pitched for making 10 protection areas in the Sutlej basin and its tributaries as project free-area. These include the Pin Valley National Park, Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, Rupi-Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary, Lippa- Asrang Wildlife Sanctuary, Rakchham- Chhitkul Wildlife Sanctuary, Daranghati-I and II Wildlife Sanctuary, Daranghati- II Majthal Wildlife Sanctuary, Darlaghat Wildlife Sanctuary and Bandli Wildlife Sanctuary, all located in the Satluj basin.

The study was conducted by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun, on the instance of state government after Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) directed DoE to conduct the study.

The park constitutes contiguous boundary on its south and is fit to be protected for the in-setu conservation zone of universal value and nature splendor in the trans Himalayas, said Dr Vinnet Jishtu, a botanist at Himalayan Forest Research Institute, who has trekked the park for trans-Himalayan flora collection for arboretum at Shimla. “Pin valley is the only trans-Himalayan high land park which has ibex, snow leopards and brown bears, dry alpine scrub forest, rare juniper and birch trees, which are on the brink of extinction and Salix spp, Myricaria spp and Myricaria shrubs, food for snow leopard during crucial winter season,” he informed.

The park has more than 20 wildlife species- bharal, red box, marten, weasel, pika, snow cock, bearded vulture, chukor, golden eagle, griffon, Himalayan chough, raven, lynx, marmat and Tibetan wolf, conservationists said.

The park has over 400 plant species and is rich in medicinal herbs and spices. These herbs and spices are collected by locals for preparation of medicines and now big pharmaceuticals are eyeing its wealth. 


Pin Valley National Park

Though there is no village in the park, its 1,150 km buffer zone has about 17 villages, having a population of 2,000 Buddhist tribals. But 17 dogris (summer migratory settlements) exist inside the park and the Kungri gompa in the village is in the buffer zone. The 1,400.5 sq km-Kibber sanctuary, country’s only sanctuary in the cold desert, lies on the northwest of Pin valley, cut by the Spiti river, and has about 13 villages outside it.

July 8, 2014, The Tribune