Home Dehradun Smile returns on Bugyals’ faces after consistent snowfall

Smile returns on Bugyals’ faces after consistent snowfall

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By DS Kunwar

Dehradun, 11 May: A broad smile seems to have returned on the faces of the beautiful Himalayan meadows known as Bugyals in Garhwal and Kumaon following consistent snow and rain fall this Summer for weeks together in Uttarakhand’s high reaches.
This extraordinary change in weather conditions appears to be due to overall global warming effects. Bugyals that are considered integral parts of Himalyan beauty and are major centres of attraction for tourists of different hues, were under threat owing to overgrazing by wild and domesticated animals like buffaloes and cows in the past.
The Bugyals where cases of overgrazing were reported include Bedini Bugyal, Benital near Randoli Village, in Uttarakhand’s ecologically sensitive Chamoli district.
Bugyals in the high reaches of Uttarkashi, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh are also facing a threat to their existence due to rise in smuggling of several medicinal herbs by outsiders.
“Since these most enchanting Bugyals are seen as treasure troves and a part of Himalayan beauty, why is overgrazing by animals allowed?” asked an expert in Biodiversity.
The Himalayan alpine meadows, considered hotspots of Himalayan biodiversity, harbour several endemic species of plants and animals.
Keeping in view the sensitivity of the region and that Bugyals are becoming a consistent target of those overusing them for overgrazing purposes, the Uttarakhand Government has taken measures to restore these in places like Uttarkashi.
What seems have caused concern among serious thinkers and those in favour of conserving these meadows and biodiversity is that multiple medicinal herbs that grow in abundance along with lush green plants in Bugyals are drastically destroyed.
These meadows that are valuable part of the ecosystem appear at the height of 3000 metres above sea level, where the treeline ends. They continue till about 4500 metres where the snowline begins and vegetation becomes scarce.
The aesthetically appealing bugyals attract thousands of tourists every year. There are three types of bugyals. First, the dry alpine meadows in cold deserts like Ladakh; widespread but containing only sparse vegetation. The second type of alpine meadows are situated in the western Greater Himalayas – the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh as well as Jammu and Kashmir. Such alpine meadows receive enough rain and snowfall. They are full of lush and diverse vegetation. The third kind of alpine meadows are found in the eastern Himalayan region, like in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, where mostly shrubs dominate.

(DS Kunwar is a Dehradun based Senior Journalist, formerly with Times of India. Currently he has been freelancing for several leading English Publications.)