NATURAL RESOURCES

The state is gifted with abundant natural resources. The resources can be grouped into biotic or abiotic, both of which can be renewable. Biotic resources include agriculture crops. fodder and forests. The entire Himalayan region is endowed with natural flora and fauna, and is a natural paradise for nature lovers, convervationists, botanists, zoologists and environmentalists. There are 4000 species of flowering plants, 300 species of ferns and its allies, 11species of Oaks, 8 species of tree ferns, 30-40 species of Primulas 20 species of bamboos. In Fauna, the state is also very rich 144 species of mammals. 500-600 species of birds, over 400 species of butterflies and moths. Many species of reptiles etc. are availble. Many medicinal plants/herbs/and important shrubs are found in low and high altitude areas. Other resources are water resources, human resources, livestock resources, hydro-electric potential, tourism, agricultural, horticulture etc. In forest, non-wood forest produce has a vast potential like sand, boulders and other materials. Under economic geology the minerals like copper, iron, lime, dolomite/limestone, coal, quartzite and tale, silicate & graphite are available in the state. Garnet is abundant in the gneiss and mica schists at places. Large cardamoms production is very high in the state. The basic information on various natural resources is either not available or if available it is not adequate and upto date. There is a vast potential for hydro-electric power generation. Tourism development deserves consideration to add to the economy of the region.

MINERAL RESOURCES

Several minerals are found in the state, among them, coal, copper, limestone and graphite are the most important. Dolomite, garnet, talc and magnetic are less important.

  • Copper:
    The ores of copper are widespread in Sikkim and are in the Daling beds. Some are situated in the transition rocks between the Daling and the gneiss, but none in the geuine itself, Copper depositors are found in East and West Sikkim. Two deposits, one at Rangpo and the other near Dikchu (north of Gangtok) arebeing explored. both are small, multimetal deposits. Sikkim Mining Corporation is working on the copper deposits which envisages mining and milling only.

  • Coal:
    A coal field bounded on the south by the Ramman and Rangit Rivers near Naya Bazar occur in South Western Sikkim. The coal is reportedly non-cooking variety, low in moisture and volatile matter and high in fixed carbon.

  • Limestone:
    Crystalline limestone has been reported from Chhangu in Eastern Sikkim and Chungthang in North Sikkim. Sedimentary deposits of limestones are reported in West Sikkim in Naya Bazar-Reshi-Namchi area and in the North Sikkim.

  • Graphite:
    Graphite occurrence in North Sikkim and West Sikkim of amorphouse to lumpy varieties have been reported.

  • Iron:
    This occurs chiefly as pyrites in association with chalcopryite. It is most plentiful at Bhotang, where magnetite also occurs. The iron ores have nowhere been put to any economic use.

  • Garnet:
    It is abundant in the gneiss and mica schists at places. But it does not appear to be fit for the market.

WATER RESOURCES

These include two major rivers of the state-Tista and Rangit- and many smaller streams flowering in East and North Districts of the State. These streams include (1) Rani Khola, (2) Rangpo Khola, (3) Sethi Khola, (4) Jolly Khola in the East District while Lachen chu and Lachung chu in North District. Beside, there are many lentic water bodies. Among them are lake Aritar, Lake Chhanggu, lake Mamen chu and lake Khechupheri.

SOIL

Eight sub-groups of soils reported in 1981 by High Level Team for Land use Plan of Sikkim Survey.

S.No. Soil Sub-groups Soil Series
1. Typic Haplumbrepts Markong Hilley
2. Lithic Haplumbrepts Gompa
3. Typic Lingtse, Losep, Namthang
4. Lithic Dystrochrepts Machong
5. Umbric Dystrochrepts Thekabong, Cahatrikola, Padamchen
6. Lithic Udorthents Putuli, Simkara, Nandugaon
7. Aquic Udifluents Majitar
8. Ultic Hapludalfs Taraku

The total area of Sikkim is 7096 sq.km. Out of this, 2646 sq.km. i.e., 36 per cent is under forest and 2850 sq.km. i.e., 39 per cent under snow and alpine pastures. 880 sq.km. area under cultivation and 999 sq.km. area under towns and others. The State is endowed with luxuriant vegetation of different types. Forest resources include not only timber, but bamboo,fuel wood,fodder, minor forest produce, medicinal plants and wild life. Forest vegetation consists of mixed evergreen trees, grasses and bushes.

ECOLOGICAL ZONES AND ECOLOGICAL ADAPTION IN SIKKIM

Sikkim contains within its borders a variety of non-tropical and geographic environments from the low snow-free outer hills to the high peaks with permanent snow and glaciers. Within its habitable portions, different social, religious, linguistic and ethnicgroups co-exist practising different types of agriculture and pastoral activities. As one moves northwards, valley floors and mountain peaks increase in altitude, the terrain becomes more rugged and the climate drier and more temperate, the vegetation changes from sal forest to rhododendrons and conifers and finally to grass above timber line. Such a transistion can sometimes be seen even on a single mountain side in any of the ecological zones.

Area Climate Altitude (meters) Ecological Adaption
crops
Agricultural
Horticulture
Lower Hills
Tropical 300-500 Wet and Dry Agriculture, Sedentary Farming,Live-Stock,Horticulture Rice,Maize,Millet,Weat and Mustard,Pulses,
Soyabean,
Vegetables,Potato
Guava,Lime,
Lemon,Ginger,
Oranges
Sub-Tropical 500-1500
Mid Hills
Temperate 1500-2000 Wet and Dry Agriculture,Slash and Burn Agriculture or Rotational Dry Cultivatin,Hunting and collection of Minor Forest Produce,Horticulture Paddy,Maize,Millet,
Weat Soyabean,
Potato,Vegitables,
Ginger
Mandarin,(Oranges) Large Cardamum Plum,Peach,Peas
High Hills
Temperate 2000-2700 Dry Agriculture,Bhutias Transhumance Maize,Barley,Vegetable Seed,Potato Apple,Plum,Peach,Peas
Sub-Alpine 2700-4000 Yak Herding,
Horticulture,Pastoral
Economy,Wool,Cheese,
Butter,Hides,Apple and
Potato are Commercial Commodities
----------------------
Alpine 4000-5000
Very High Hills
Alpine Above 5000 Lechenpa and Lachungpa
Transhumant Groups
visit the Area,
Lechenpa grows vegitable and
potato at higher elevation
mainly used for seed Potato,Vegetables Pasturage

FORESTS

 

Sikkim supports 2646 sq. Km. of forest cover, equivalent to 36% of the total land area. Forest types follow a complex altitudinal zonation sequence typical of the Kanchenjunga region. Tree species composition of forest associations depends on both altitude and local precipitation patterns, and may be summarized as follows (species names in parentheses refer to those tree taxa which typical dominate a particular association).

  • Subtropical deciduous monsoon forest (Shorea robusta, Terminalia sp.)occurs in river basins below 1000 m.

  • Subtropical evergreen hill forest (Schima wallichii, Castanopsis tribuloides) is abundant at 1000-2000 m

  • Lower temperate broad-leaved forest (Quercus spp. Lithocarpus spp., Laursceae) and upper temperate conifer ( Tsuga dumosa) or deciduous ( Acer spp., Magnolia sp.) forest occurs at 2000-3000 m

  • Rohododendron forest ( R. arboreum, Quercus semecarpifolia, Lyonia ovalifolia ) occurs at 2000-3000 m on drier slopes, and subalpine forest (Abies sp., Betula utilis) grows from 3000 m to altitudinal treeline at 4000 m

  • Extensive moist alpine scrub( Juniperus spp., Rhodendron spp., Potentilla spp.) occurs between treeline and the altitude of permanent rock and ice

  • Lower Hill Forest: This consists of three main types,viz., sal forest, dry mixed forest and wet mixed forest.
    • Sal Forest: These are confined to Tista and Rangit river valleys. Principal associates of sal forest are Dabdabe (Garuga pinnata),Pakasaj (Terminalia crenulata),Chilouni (Schima wallichii)and Burra (Terminalia chebula). In Rangit valley Chirpine (Pinus longifolia) also occur along with Shorea robusta.

    • Dry Mixed Forests: This type is mainly deciduous and occurs on ridges and drier slopes. Sal occurs as isolated species. Common species are Chilouni, Dabdabe and Comari (Gmelina arborea).

    • Wet Mixed Forest: These are evergreen valley forests on damper soils and prevail on the north and north estern parts of the State. The common species in this zone is Jaman (Eugenia operculata).Undergrowth consists of evergreen herbs and shurbs among which Dabdabe