Indian Himalayan Region represents tropical, subtropical, alpine, sub-alpine and xerophytic vegetation. The IHR harbours about 18440 species of plants, out of which 25.5% plant species are endemic to Himalaya (Singh & Hajra, 1996; Samant et al., 1998b). This region supports about 8,000 species of angiosperms (3200 species endemic), 44 species of gymnosperms (7 species endemic), 600 species of pteridophytes (150 species endemic), 1735 species of bryophytes (565 species endemic) (Singh & Hajra, 1996). Out of 7000 Indian endemic species, 3000 species found in Himalayan region (Chatterjee, 1939). A total of 1748 species of medicinal plants, 675 species of wild edibles, 279 species of fodder, 118 species of essential oil yielding and 155 species of sacred plants also occurs in this region (Samant et al., 1998, Samant & Palni, 2000; Samant & Pant, 2003). People living in Himalayan villages, utilize plants for medicine, food, fodder, fuel, timber, agricultural implements and many more other purposes (Samant & Dhar, 1997; Samant et al., 2007). Various human influence, non-sustainable utilization, habitat degradation, commercial exploitation, agricultural requirement, forest fire, and grazing pressures are the important sources of disturbances (Singh & Singh, 1992). Over exploitation of important plants in drugs and pharmaceutical industries led these floras toward extinction. 121 species have been recorded in the Red Data Book of Indian Plant (Nayar & Sastry, 1987, 1988 & 1990) and more than 70 species are under various threat categories. Therefore this has been necessitated assessing the status of vegetation, understanding the distribution patterns and diversity of vegetation of this region.
Along with floral diversity, IHR is also a house of unique fauna such as Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Himalayan Brown Bear, Himalayan Thar, Himalayan Musk Deer, Himalayan Ibex, Himalayan Lynx, Kashmir Stag, Yak, and the Himalayan Bearded Vulture, Pheasants, Monals, etc. Keeping in view the significance and values of biodiversity for the sustenance of inhabitants and its rapid loss from the natural habitats, Protected Area Network (PAN) has been established and most of the biodiversity rich areas have been notified as Biosphere Reserves, National Parks, and Wildlife Sanctuaries to conserve the ecosystems, habitats and species, respectively. At Present the IHR represents 5 designated Biosphere Reserves (BRs), 28 National Parks (NPs), and 98 Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLs) (Mathur et al., 2004; Rana & Samant, 2009) and a recently noted Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve (Samant et al., 2012).