a field guide to the planet - by Damon Ramsey
The beautiful and cool broadleaf and conifer forests of the mountains of Asia, expressed best in the Himalayas...
This section covers a number of different forest types. While there are various mountains and ranges across tropical Asia, these various types of temperate forests are best displayed and easiest to see in the Himalayas, particularly in tourist accessible countries such as India, Nepal and Bhutan.
It is difficult to put in artificial boundaries on natural biomes and vegetation communities, but I'll do it anyway. The tropical lowland 'jungle' reaches about 1000 metres in altitude, where it gradually transitions into cooler but almost as diverse subtropical rainforest. This forest peters out at about 2000 metres. The tropical and subtropical forest is covered in another section on this website.
This section now covers all the forest types above this.
In slightly drier adjacent areas are patches of 'Chir Pine' Pinus roxburghii. These forests are often on the slopes of valleys opposite the wetter closed forests, and are depressingly sparse in both plant and animal diversity.
The subtropical forest transitions into temperate broadleaf forest. The dominant trees here are relatives of more familiar and widespread northern hemisphere species, including Quercus Oak, Acer Maple, Betula Birch, Magnolia, and various conifers. But there are also patches of more East Asian elements, such as Bamboo and Rhododendron
Around and above the temperate mixed forests, are Conifer-dominated communities that eventually become subalpine. These include the species poor Pinus wallichiana 'Blue/Himalayan Pine' forests. Higher up we get mixed Picea 'Spruce', Tsuga dumosa 'Himalayan Hemlock' and the beautiful Abies densa 'Bhutan Fir' .
Finally, above this, we start to get past the tree line, and these exposed areas host alpine meadows and then relatively barren rocky slopes. This is another biome that may be best considered in the PALEARCTIC region, but I haven't written that yet.
Thinking of travelling again after everything settles down? The first expedition I am booked to work on after the virus is Micronesia, New Guinea & Indonesia in 2021 with Silversea. Meanwhile I am giving a lecture on the Sunshine Coast (Australia) on the "Sounds of suburban south-east Queensland"