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Indo-Malay Deserts

The Indo-Malay region harbours only two hot lowland deserts - the Indus Valley and the Thar - covering in total 0.26 million square kilometres, of which some 20 per cent receives some level of legal environmental protection (Figure 4.3). In terms of population, these are the densest and most heavily-used deserts in the world, with a mean density of 151 persons per square kilometre, and a human footprint of 33. These deserts receive 200 and 100 mm of annual rainfall respectively, enough to support trees, shrubs and grasses, in particular Halostachys caspica on salty soils and Aristida pennata on sandy soils. The rural population depends mostly on raising sheep and goats. About 63 per cent of the Indus Valley and 17 per cent of the Thar Desert are protected (the latter in 11 different locations).


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