The Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve area is situated in one of the remotest corners of India, bordering the Tibetan Plateau. Limited commerce and trade were florishing in the area till 1962 when Sino-Indo war broke out. All trans-Himalayan trade routes were closed and the people were facing economic problems. After sometimes, the Nanda Devi peak (7817 m) become one of the most popular destination for moutaineers. The local people get some benefits by being porter to these climbers. But that too was short-lived with the declaration of the area as national Park in 1982. Due to remoteness and no alternative source of income the people face acute economic problems and are still facing the same. In the year 1988, Nanda Devi National Park and its surrounding area was declared as Biosphere Reserve under MAB programme of UNESCO. But the fund coming ubder this programme was not enough to compensate the loss suffered by the people.
The boundary description of the NDBR is as under -
From Niti Pass (5,300m) along the international boundary via Belcha Dhura and Kiogad Pass to Unta Dhura and Gonkha Gad upto Finga and then to Bampa Dhura (6,355m) through unnamed peaks of altitude 5,749m and 5,096m. From Bampa Dhura to Burphu Dhura (6, 21 Om) and then to unnamed peak 4,600m high through Ralam Peak (4,964m).
From an unnamed peak 5,553m. high at the head ofPanpati Bank (Glacier) which feeds Khir Ganga to Chaukhamba III (6,974m) via another unnamed peak 5,773m high along the ridge, from Chaukhamba III (6,974m) to Chaukhamba I (7,138m) along the ridge (which also touches the Chamoli-Uttarkashi district boundary) to Kalandani Khal (5,969m) via unknown peaks of altitude 6,721m and 6,557m.
From Kalandani Khal (5,968m) down to Arwa Tal and then along Arwa Nala to Ghastoli. From Ghastoli along Saraswati (upstreams) to Khiam and then along Pashchimi Kamet Glacier to Mukut Parwat (7,242m) on the international boundary. From Mukut Parwat along the international boundary to Niti pass (5,300m) via Ganesh Parwat (6,535m) and Tapcha Pass (6,027m).
From Ratanpani peak (4,072m) through Wan Gad a tributary of Kaligaog river along Pindari river. Through Dhakuri Dhar to Tarsali than Sodhara Madir (2,198m) to Madari peak (4,427m) to Unnamed peak (5,962m). From Namik Glacier to Potting Glacier through the Khansa Dhura, Nahar Devi across to Gori Ganga than Hansaling (5,430m) to Dhasi peak (5,460m), Rajamba peak (6,895m), to Brij Gang Pass (4,768m) along Ralam Gad a tributary of Gori Ganga than Shantapa Glacier. The reserve has several peaks such. as: Dunagiri (7,066m) Changbang (6,864m), Kalanka (6,931m), Rishipahar (6,992m), Trishul (7,120m), Rataban (6,126m), NarParbat (5,246m), Saptsring (5,038m), Bethartoli (6,352m), Mrigthuni (6,655m), Nandakhat (6,631m), Devstan (6,678m), Maiktoli (6,803m), Nanda Devi (7,817m).
The Area Profile: Initially in 1988 the notified area under NDBR was 2236.74 km2. with 624.62 km2. as core zone with no human interference except research and patrolling and rest as buffer zone. On 07-02-2000 Govt. of India extended the total area of NDBR from existing 2236.74 km2. to 5860.69 km2. and core area has been extended to 712.12 km2. by adding the Valley of Flower National park as the second core zone . The core zone, i.e. the area of NANDA DEVI NATIONAL PARK (leaving the area of Peng village) and the area of valley of Flowers National Park does not require demarcation as their boundaries are already very well defined
The Core zone: The total core area of the biosphere consisits of 712.12 km2. and it comprises two National Parks of international repute. The First and the foremost is the Nanda Devi National Park which has a total area of 624.6 km2 and the other is the Valley of flower National Park which has a total area of 87.5 km2. It contains suitable habitat for numerous plant and animal species, including higher order predators and contain centres of endemism. The core areas of NDBR conserve the wild relatives of many economic species specially medicinal herbs and also represent important genetic reservoirs. The core zone also contains places of exceptional scientific interest. The core zones being national parks have legal protection and scientific management procedure. The core zones of NDBR harbour high diversity of species, alpine communities, and rare-endangered, native and endemic species of both flora and fauna. The core area has 17 species of mammals such as Snow leopard (Panthera undo). Leopard (P.pardus), Himalayan black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos), Himalayan musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster). Blue sheep (Pseudois nayauf), Himalayan thar (Hemitragus jemlahicus), etc., many species of birds such as Monal pheasant (Lophophorous impejanus), Himalayan snow cock(Tetraogalhis himalayensis), Koklas pheasant (Pucrasia macrolopha), Snow pigeon (Columba leuconota), Himalayan golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Himalayan griffon (Gyps himalayensis), Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), etc. (Tak 1997) and 19 species of butterflies such as Common yellow swallowtail (Papilio machaon). Common blue apollo (Parnasshis hardwickei), Bath white (Pontia daplidice), Painted lady (Cynthia cardui), etc. In Nanda Devi National Park about 493 species of plants and from Valley of Flowers 521 species of plants have been recorded. The Buffer Zone: The buffer zone adjoins or surrounds the core zones, uses and activities are managed in ways that protect the core zone. These uses and activities include restoration, demonstration sites for enhancing value addition to the resources, limited recreation, tourism, grazing, etc. which are permitted to reduce its effect on core zone. Research and educational activities are to be encouraged. Human activities, which are natural within NDBR, which do not adversely affect the ecological diversity of the whole area is not stopped but people are guided to use the resources justifiably and sustainably. In buffer zone, manipulative macro-management practices are used. Experimental research areas are used for understanding the patterns and process in ecosystem. Modified or degraded landscapes are included as rehabilitation areas to restore the ecology in a way that it returns to sustainable productivity. In the NDBR the whole buffer zone has mainly three types of lands. Vegetation in the buffer zone comprises temperate, subalpine and alpine types. It supports over 1,000 species of plants including fungi, lichens and bryophytes and 520 species of fauna. Over 23 forest communities and over 62 alpine communities have been recorded from the buffer zone of the reserve. Two hundred twenty four species of plants in Pindari area and 193 species in Lata-Tolma-Malari area are used by the native communities for various purposes. The buffer zone supports 29 species of mammals. Almost all endangered animals like Musk deer, Snow leopard and Black Beers are also found in the Buffer zone. In addition to this, species like Goral (Naemorhaedus goral), Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica), Yellow bellied weasel (Mustela kathiah), etc., 229 species of birds such as Indian whitebacked vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Peregrine falcon (Faico peregrinus), Chukor partridge (Alectoris chukor). White crested kaleej pheasant (Lophura leuvumvlunu), Himalayan rcdbcllicd blue magpie (Cissa erythrorhyncha), Yellowbellied blue magpie (C. flavirostris), etc. and about 200 species of insects, 13 species of molluscs and 6 species of annelids are found in the Buffer zone. The Transition zone: The transition zone surrounding the buffer zone covers 546.34 km2areas and represents high diversity of habitats, species, communities and ecosystems. 52 revenue villages inhabit this zone. The inhabitants belong to schedule tribes, schedule castes, Brahmins and Rajputs. The vegetation mainly comprises temperate, sub-alpine and alpine types. The species composition is almost similar to buffer zone. The transition zone covering approximately 546.34 km2 area has been identified recently (May 2002). It forms the cushion for the buffer zone towards the southern boundary. The Joshmath area of the transition zone has been demarcated based on their dependence in the reserve particularly for fodder, fuel and medicinal plants, whereas the Ghat and Bedani-Auli areas in Chamoli district and parts of Bageshwar and Pithoragarh districts have been demarcated in view of the protection to wildlife and dependence of inhabitants for various purposes.The villagers are totally dependent of plant resources for fodder, fuel, livestock grazing, house building, agricultural tools, religious and various other purposes. Most area of the transition zone is poorly explored in terms of biodiversity, human dependence, rare-endangered, native, endemic and other economically important species. Development activities such as sheep farming, ecorestoration, eco-tourism, cultivation of medicinal plants, bee keeping, training programmes, etc. need to be encouraged in this zone. The land use pattern mainly comprises forests, agricultural land, waste land, settlements, cultivable waste land, orchards, etc. The inhabitants are mainly dependent on horticultural and agricultural crops such as Apple (Mains mains). Walnut (Juglans regia), Apricot (Prunus armeniaca). Potato (Solamnn tuberosnm), Amaranth (Amaranlhus paniculatus), etc. Bee keeping, medicinal plants cultivation and sheep farming are practiced for income generation. The main thrust of landscape planing of NDBR is on this zone .The transition area is the outermost part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. This is usually not delimited one and is a zone of cooperation where conservation knowledge and management skills are applied and uses are managed in harmony with the purpose of the Biosphere Reserve.This area is further associated with the forest areas, settlements, crop lands, managed forests and area for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region. The adjacernt Kedarnath sanctuary (only some part) and the adjacent reserve forest compartments of Badrinath Division. Pithoragarh Division and Champawat Division are part of the transition zone of NDBR without any change in their legal status.