Natural Vegetation of India I Natural vegetation of INDIA UPSC/IAS

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Natural vegetation of India

Natural vegetation refers to a plant community that has been left undisturbed over a long time. So as to allow its individual species to adjust themselves to climate and soil conditions as fully as possible.

India is a land of great variety of natural vegetation. Himalayan heights are marked with temperate vegetation; the Western Ghats and the Andaman Nicobar Islands have tropical rain forests, the deltaic regions have tropical forests and mangroves; the desert and semi desert areas of Rajasthan are known for cacti, a wide variety of bushes and thorny vegetation. Depending upon the variations in the climate and the soil, the vegetation of India changes from one region to another.

On the basis of certain common features such as predominant vegetation type and climatic regions, Indian forests can be divided into the following groups:

Types of Forests

  • Tropical Evergreen
  • Tropical Deciduous forests
  • Tropical dry Forests
  • Arid or Desert Forests
  • Tidal Forests
  • Mountain forests

Tropical Evergreen Forests

  • Tropical evergreen forests have an Avg. Rainfall of 200 cm and Avg. temp. Of 24°C.
  • It is found at Hot & Humid areas of India like Western Ghats, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Eastern India.
  • Tropical deciduous forests are Tall & Dense with their height ranging from 45 – 60 mts. The Trees compete & rise high to get sunlight
  • Rubber, Coconut, Ebony, Mahogany, Palms

Tropical Deciduous Forests      

  • Deciduous forests have an Avg. Rainfall of100 – 200 cm and their avg height is 25 – 45 mts.
  • They Shed their leaves in summers due to shortage of water
  • It is Found at Shiwaliks, Ganga valley, Western Ghats, North Eastern India
  • They are Economically very important forests because we get majority of raw wood from these forests for Ex. Sal, Teak, Shisham, Sandalwood, Deodar, Mahua

Tropical dry Forests

  • Tropical dry forests have an Avg. Rainfall of 50 to 100 cm and they are Less dense & their size ranges from 6 – 9 mts,
  • Their Roots are thick & long to use underground water and the Thick Bark prevents undue evaporation
  • They are Found in Punjab, Haryana, MP, Eastern Rajasthan, Central Deccan Plateau
  • Most of the areas are used for agriculture
  • Dwarf Deciduous trees and long- grasses grow in these regions
  • Neem, Shisham, Babul, Pipal, Mango

Arid or Desert Forests

  • Desert forest has an Avg. Rainfall of less than 50 cm.
  • Prominent features of desert forests are Small leaves, Thick Bark, Long Roots
  • Indian wild date is common in these deserts
  • It is Found at Western Rajasthan, South West Haryana, Punjab, and In some parts of Gujrat
  • Small sized kikar, Babul, Acacia, Bushes & Shrubs

Tidal Forests

  • These forests grow along the coast and on the edges of the deltas
  • Famous for Mangrove & Sundari Trees
  • Consists of thick Bushes & Ferns
  • They are Known as Halophytes e.Tolerant of Salinity
  • Found at Sundarbans, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Deltas of Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna & Kavery

Mountain forests

  • Mountain forests vary considerably along the slopes of mountain
  • On the foothills of Himalayas, upto a height of 1500 meters, evergreen trees, (Sal, teak, bamboo and cane) grow abundantly.
  • On higher slope between 1,500 meters to 3,500 meters, temperate conifer trees (pine, fir, oak, maple, deodar, laurel spruce, cedar) grow.
  • At the higher altitude of the Himalayas, rhododendrons and junipers are found.
  • Beyond these vegetation belts, alpine grasslands appear up to snowfield.

Forest cover in India

  • According to the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2015, the forest area covers 21.34 per cent of the total land area of the country.
  • The forest area is the area notified and recorded as the forest land irrespective of the existence of trees, while the actual forest cover is the area occupied by forests with canopy.
  • The former is based on the records of the State Revenue Department, while the latter is based on aerial photographs and satellite imageries.
  • Both forest area and forest covers vary from state to state. Lakshadweep has zero per cent forest area; Andaman and Nicobar Islands have 86.93 per cent. Most of the states with less than 10 per cent of the forest area lie in the north and northwestern part of the country. These are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.

Forest Conservation

Forests have an intricate interrelationship with life and environment. These provide numerous direct and indirect advantages to our economy and society.

Hence, conservation of forest is of vital importance to the survival and prosperity of humankind.

Accordingly, the Government of India proposed to have a nation-wide forest conservation policy, and adopted a forest policy in 1952, which was further modified in 1988.

According to the new forest policy, the Government will emphasis sustainable forest management in order to conserve and expand forest reserve on the one hand, and to meet the needs of local people on the other.

The forest policy aimed at:
  • bringing 33 per cent of the geographical areas under forest cover;
  • maintaining environmental stability and to restore forests where ecological balance was disturbed;
  • conserving the natural heritage of the country, its biological diversity and genetic pool;
  • checks soil erosion, extension of the desert lands and reduction of floods and droughts;
  • increasing the forest cover through social forestry and afforestation on degraded land;
  • increasing the productivity of forests to make timber, fuel, fodder and food available to rural population dependent on forests and encourage the substitution of wood;
  • creating of a massive peoples movement involving women to encourage planting of trees, stop felling of trees, and thus, reduce pressure on the existing forest
Social Forestry

Social forestry means the management and protection of forests and afforestation on barren lands with the purpose of helping in the environmental, social and rural development

The National Commission on Agriculture (1976) has classified social forestry into three categories. These are urban forestry, rural forestry and Farm forestry.

Urban forestry pertains to the raising and management of trees on public and privately owned lands in and around urban centers such as green belts, parks, roadside avenues, industrial and commercial green belts, etc.

Rural forestry lays emphasis on promotion of agro forestry and community-forestry. Agro-forestry is the raising of trees and agriculture crops on the same land inclusive of the waste patches

Farm Forestry

Farm forestry is a term applied to the process under which farmers grow trees for commercial and noncommercial purposes on their farm lands.

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