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Proposed Bungus Valley Biosphere

One of the relatively unknown areas of Kashmir with vast tourism potential is the valley of Bungus. The valley, which lies at an altitude of around 10,000 ft. above sea level, lies in the northern border district of Kupwara within the Handawara sub district. Occupying an estimated area of 300 sq.kms(20x15km) the principal valley locally known as Bodh Bangus (Big Bungus) consists of an linear elliptical bowl aligned along the east west axis. Eco tourism is an increasingly popular form of tourism in which tourist’s seek out wild and scenic areas such as mountains for an active and educational trip. Most of the tourist engaged in eco-tourism in Kashmir are from the North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand often venturing the unexplored areas of the developing world.

The prerequisite for development of eco-tourism is the identification of a natural biome, a condition that is easily met in Bangus Valley. Lying within the Trans-Himalayan area, Bungus is a part of a unique ecological area, comprising Mountain Biome, which includes Grassland Biome with flora at lower altitudes, and Taiga or Coniferous forest. The area also contains wetlands in the form of a Fresh Water Marsh located within the Bungus valley.

The Bungus Valley that lies at an altitude of 10,000 ft ASL and located in the northern border district of Kupwara, Kashmir presents ideal conditions for creating a biosphere. Bungus comprises a Mountain Biome, which includes Grassland Biome with flora at lower altitudes and Taiga or Coniferous forests at a higher altitude. The area also contains wetlands in the form of a fresh water marsh located within the Valley.

For the sustainable development of Bungus, it is proposed to allocate the area comprising approximately 300 sq. km as a part of a protected biome, under the name of Bungus Valley Biosphere. The biosphere will be divided into three following zone;

Core Zone: Around 76 sq. km of area comprising Bodh and Lokut Bungus.

Buffer Zone: Comprising around 300 sq. km of area including surrounding mountain ranges of Shamsbari etc.

Transition Zone: Includes the settlement of Pothwari, Reshwari, and Nowgam where most of the supporting infrastructural facilities will be set.

Some activities proposed for the biosphere are as following;

  • Guided Natural Hikes
  • Night-time Hikes
  • Biodiversity Games

Project Description

It is expected that the setting up of the Bungus Valley Biosphere will result in a gradual increase in the number of tourists in the area. In order to cater to this expected visitor influx a number of supporting infrastructural facilities will have to be set up in the area. The proposed facilities are

Phase I

  • Guest Lodges within local residences
  • Aaram Gahs
  • Tourist Information Centre
  • Improving Tracks / Trails and Construction of wooden foot bridges.
  • Interpretation Centre at Bungus.

Phase II

  • Landscaping and setting up of leisure spots at Reshwari-Pothwari stretch along the river Mawar
  • Capacity building and reserch
  • Chair lift from Mohuldhar to Bungus Gali (0.3 mile stetch)

The various projects will; be implemented in phases. It is presumed that the successful implementation of these projects would generate the much needed revenue for the local inhabitants of the area in particular and the state in general. The individual profile of the various projects, their financial costing and phasing is as following

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