Floral biodiversity and conservation status of the Himalayan foothill region, Punjab.
The floral diversity of the Himalayan foothill region including the forests of Bhurban (Bhurban, Patrieta, Santh Anwali), Kamra (Kamra, Jawa, Kotli Satiyan), Bansra Galli (Wildlife Park, upper fenced area), Kathar (Cpt 109, Cpt 112, Cpt 111, Cpt 110), and Tret (Cpt 94-III, Cpt 96, Cpt 93, Cpt 92, Cpt 95, Cpt 97, Cpt 90, Cpt 91, Cpt 94-I) in the Murree region (Punjab) was explored to assess the vegetation structure and conservation status of economically important species. The vegetation was studied by the quadrat method during 2006-9. A total of 248 species belonging to 56 families were recorded from the area, where Poaceae was the largest family with 48 grass species. This was followed by Papilionaceae with 15, Asteraceae with 10, and Euphorbiaceae with 7 species. Species diversity was quite high, which seemed to be highly influenced by topographic characteristics like altitude, slope and aspect. Many areas were invaded by exotic species like Dodonaea viscosa, which was the most dominant shrub at lower altitudes. Carissa opaca also dominated lower altitudes along with D. viscosa. Themeda anathera dominated higher altitudes and steeper slopes among grasses, whereas tussock grasses like Chrysopogon serrulatus and Dichanthium foveolatum were dominant at lower altitudes along with Cymbopogon jwarancusa. Among conifers, Pinus roxburghii was recorded from moderate heights, while P. wallichiana and Cedrus deodara from the highest peaks. Conservation status of many economically important species was overall very poor, which was ascribed to anthropogenic activities and habitat destruction.