Nepal, situated in the central Himalayas, occupies a total area of 147,181 sq. Km. About 86% of the total land area is covered with hills and high mountains, and the remaining 14 % are the flat lands of the Tarai, with altitudes varying from some 67 m from the main sea level in the south-eastern Tarai to 8,848 m at the peak of the world’s highest mountain, Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) in the north. Nepal’s bio-diversity at ecosystem, habitat, species and gene levels is a reflection of its unique geographic position and wide altitudinal and diverse climatic conditions. The latest physiographic data show that Nepal has 29% of the total land area as forests, 10.6% shrub land and degraded forest, 12% grassland, 21% farmland, 2.6% water body, 7% uncultivated inclusions, and 17.8% others.
Nepal has 185 mammal species, 874 bird species, 78 reptile species, 118 amphibian, 187 fish and 651 butterfly species. The Government of Nepal has imposed restrictions on the export of 12 plant species and one forest product under Forest Act (1993). Similarly, 27 mammal species, 9 bird species and 3 reptile species have been given legal protection under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1973). Altogether, 342 plant species and 160 animal species have been reported as being endemic to Nepal.