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Kanchenjunga Conservation Area lies at the extreme northeastern corner of Nepal. It was designated in 1997 and is the newest of Nepal's protected areas. The Conservation Area supports many species of flora and fauna that are characteristic of the eastern Himalaya. The Qomolongma National Nature Reserve of China lies to the north and the Kanchenjunga National Park in Sikkim in India to the east. The Conservation Area comprises rocks and ice (64 per cent), forests (16.1 per cent), shrubland (10.1 per cent), grassland (9.2 per cent), agricultural land (0.5 per cent) and lake and landslide (0.1 per cent) (KCAP 2003 based on topo map 1978). Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world (8586m), lies within the Area. There are four main river valleys: the Simbua Khola and the Ghunsa, Kabeli and Tamur. The vegetation ranges from subtropical to alpine. Subtropical vegetation comprises moist broadleaved forests of mixed Schima wallichii, Engelhardtia spicata etc, Schima wallichii/Castanopsis tribuloides and C. tribuloides/C. hystrix. In the temperate zone there are moist broadleaved forests of oak/laurel dominated by Quercus glauca, Q. lamellosa and C. tribuloides etc, Q. lamellosa forests, Q. semecarpifolia forests and mixed broadleaved/coniferous forests of Q. semecarpifolia/Tsuga dumosa/Abies spectabilis/Betula utilis/Rhododendron arboreum etc. The subalpine zone has a wide range of forest types: Tsuga dumosa/Abies spectabilis forest, Abies spectabilis forest, Larix griffithiana forest, Juniperus indica forest, Rhododendron forests and Betula forest. Vegetation in the alpine zone consists of scrub and meadows (Rastogi et al. 1997).
As many as 279 bird species have been recorded in the Conservation Area, but many more are likely to occur (White and White 1992, 1994, 1997), Halberg (1994), Brown 1995, KCAMC 2003, BCN in preparation). The status of bird species in the Area is uncertain. Considering the Area's location and the high quality of extensive remaining forests (see Conservation Issues section below) it is likely to be important for many east Himalayan species, including several species from the East Himalayan Endemic Bird Area. There are large temperate forest and alpine zone areas that are likely to support significant populations of characteristic species of the Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest and Eurasian High Montane biomes. A recent study has pointed out that a total of 844 species of flora has been found in the area (KCAMC 2003).
Non-bird biodiversity: Globally threatened mammals include the Assam Macaque Macaca assamensis, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Snow Leopard Uncia uncia, Himalayan Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster, Serow Capricornis sumatraensis and Red Panda Ailurus fulgens.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kanchenjungha Conservation Area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/03/2021.