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Stainton classification

Adam Stainton (1972) used the following eight climatic and phytogeographic regions in his classification of forest types of Nepal:
  • Terai and outer foothills, including the Siwalik Hills and valleys
  • Midlands and southern slopes of the main Himalayan ranges
  • Western Midlands
  • Central Midlands
  • Eastern Midlands
  • South of Annapurna and Himalchuli
  • Dry river Valleys
  • Arid Zone

Stainton recognised 35 forest types classified into ten major groups which have been widely adopted in later works. A detailed account of this classification is in preparation, the major groups are:

Subtropical pine forest (1000-2200 m): South facing slopes of the Siwalik and Mid-Hills in western and central regions, dominated by Chir Pine (Pinus roxburghii).
Lower temperate mixed broad-leaved forest (1700-2200 m): generally confined to the moister north and west-facing slopes, with several tree species of Lauraceae prominent.
Upper temperate broad-leaved forest (2200-3000 m): drier south-facing slopes of central and western parts have Quercus semecarpefolia forest, but this is absent in higher rainfall areas such as the Upper Arun and Tamur valleys and hills to the north of Pokhara.
Plantation: a number of districts in the Terai have substantial plantations of Dalbergia sissoo, Eucalyptus spp. and Tectona grandis (Teak), particularly in Sagarnath and Nepalgunj. Plantations in the Mid-Hills comprise Pinus roxburgii, Pinus wallichiana, Pinus patula and Alnus nepalensis.
Tropical moist lowland Indo-Malayan forest (below 1000 m [to 1200 m in Churia hills]): predominantly Sal (Shorea robusta). Acacia catechu and Dalbergia sissoo replace Sal in riverine forests. Other riverine forest types include evergreen species such as Michelia champaca, or deciduous species such as Bombax ceiba. In the foothills of western Nepal Sal forest is replaced by Terminalia/Anogeissus forest.
Subtropical broad-leaved evergreen forest (1000-2000 m): central and eastern parts have Schima wallichii/Castanopsis indica forest. Riverine forest of Toona(Cedrela) and Albizia occur low down along the valley sides of large rivers (e.g. Arun Khola). Alnus nepalensis is widespread along streams and moist places.
Upper temperate mixed broad-leaved forest (2500-3500 m): mostly found in central and eastern regions, mainly on the moister north- and west-facing slopes. Acer and Rhododendron species predominate. In the west can be found forests of Aesculus/Juglans/Acer.
Temperate coniferous forest (2000-3000 m): Pinus wallichiana is an aggressive coloniser and can be found throughout Nepal at these elevations, extending up to 3700 m. In the west, Cedrus deodara, Picea smithiana, Juniperus indica and Abies pindrow forests occur. The upper Bheri River valley marks the easternmost extent to Cedrus deodara. In Nepal, Larix himalaica forest only occurs in the Langtang and Buri Gandaki valleys, and favours glacial moraine habitats. Larix griffithiana, the eastern Himalayan larch, extends up to 3940 m. Cupressus torulosa forest and Tsuga dumosa forest are widespread throughout Nepal between 2130-3340 m.
Subalpine forest (3000-4100 m): Abies spectabilis, Betula utilis, Rhododendron spp.
Above the tree line Stainton's forest/vegetation types can readily be extended to include:
Alpine scrub (above 4100 m): varied associations with Juniperus spp. and Rhododendron spp. Juniperus recurva, Juniperus indica, Juniperus communis, Rhododendron anthopogon, Rhododendron lepidotum, Ephedra gerardiana and Hippophae tibetana in the inner valleys. North of the Dhaulagiri-Annapurna massif Caragana versicolor, Lonicera spinosa, Rosa sericea and Sophora moorcroftiana occurs. Alpine meadows (kharkas) are grazed during the summer and rainy seasons.
Perpetual snow (above 5200 m): Stellaria decumbens and Parrya lanuginosa have been recorded at 6100 m, but beyond this point in the Arctic desert/Nival zone, even mosses do not survive.