Forest Ecosystem

 

  • The natural vegetation is the endowments of nature. They grow naturally by following the climatic variables. The types of natural vegetation differ according to precipitation, soil, climate, and topography.
  • India is bestowed with a wide range of flora and fauna. Due to a diverse geographical and climatic condition, an extensive range of natural vegetation grows in India.
    • Climate, soil, and topography are the major factors that influence the Natural Vegetation of a place.
    • The main climatic factors are rainfall and temperature. The amount of annual rainfall has a great bearing on the type of vegetation.
    • Temperature is the major factor in the Himalayas and other hilly regions with an elevation of more than 900 meters.
    • As the temperature falls with altitude in the Himalayan region the vegetal cover changes with altitude from tropical to subtropical, temperate, and finally alpine.
    • Soil is an equally determining factor in a few regions. Mangrove forests, swamp forests are some of the examples where the soil is the major factor.
    • The topography is responsible for certain minor types e.g. alpine flora, tidal forests, etc.
Annual RainfallType of Vegetation
200 cm or moreEvergreen Rain Forests
100 to 200 cmMonsoon Deciduous Forests
50 to 100 cmDrier Deciduous or Tropical Savanna
25 to 50 cmDry Thorny Scrub (Semi-arid)
Below 25 cmDesert (Arid)

 

  • Classification of Natural Vegetation of India is primarily based on spatial and annual variations in rainfall. Temperature, soil and topography are also considered.
  • India’s vegetation can be divided into 5 main types and 16 sub-types as given below.
  1. Moist Tropical Forests
    • Tropical Wet Evergreen
    • Tropical Semi-Evergreen
    • Tropical Moist Deciduous
    • Littoral and Swamp
  1. Dry Tropical Forests
    • Tropical Dry Evergreen
    • Tropical Dry Deciduous
    • Tropical Thorn
  1. Montane Subtropical Forests
    • Sub-tropical broad leaved hill
    • Subtropical moist hill (pine)
    • Subtropical dry evergreen
  1. Montane Temperate Forests
    • Montane Wet Temperate
    • Himalayan Moist Temperate
    • Himalayan Dry Temperate
  1. Alpine Forests
    • Sub-Alpine
    • Moist Alpine scrub
    • Dry Alpine scrub
Forest Type in India% of Total Area
Tropical Moist Deciduous37
Tropical Dry Deciduous28
Tropical Wet Evergreen8
Subtropical Moist Hill6
Tropical Semi-Evergreen4
Rest below 4 %

  • Forests are the index of prosperity of a nation.
  • The ever increasing need for land for various purposes like industrial, domestic and agricultural has led to shrinking of forest areas. Moreover, the accelerated rate of development has increased the rate of forest destruction.
  • Our increased demand for forest products has led to destruction and degradation of forests which has resulted in heavy soil erosion, variable rainfall and devastating floods. Depletion of forest has led to chain reaction in the ecosystem.
  • The latest report of National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) indicates that the country is losing about 1.3 million forest cover each year.
  • Forests are renewable resources but it takes time for its regeneration. We are destroying the forest cover at such a fast rate that large tracts which were forests before are devoid of any forests now.
  • Hence, there is an urgent need for conservation of forests.
  • Forest conservation means proper use without causing any adverse effect on our economy or environment.
  • Conservation of forest is a national problem and it should be curbed as such.

Steps which can Help us in Forest Conservation

  • Afforestation – emphasis on massive afforestation program with main objective being on production of fuel wood, timber, grasses and small trees to cover up degraded and denuded lands.
  • Plantation of trees along the roads, railway lines, rivers, ponds etc.
  • Development of green belts in urban areas and plantation of trees on community lands.
  • Encroachment of forest areas for agriculture should be made punishable.
  • Rural areas should be provided with alternatives to Fuel wood and wood based products.Plantation of community forests in Gram-Sabha lands.
  • Customary rights and concessions like grazing, collection of fuel-wood and fodder from forests by the local people should not be allowed to exceed the carrying capacity of the forests.
  • Mining and development projects should be properly planned to avoid damages to the forests.Mining should have an obligatory clause of reforestation when the process of mining is complete.
  • Industries should adopt anti-pollution devices and must develop and compensate for the forest loss by new plantations.
  • Shifting cultivation should be gradually replaced by terraced farming and orchards development and silviculture.
  • Scientific methods should be adopted to check and contain forest fires.More research on forestry in agricultural universities, for which funds should be provided by the government.Scientific methods and processes should be applied to fight against the plant diseases in forests.
  • People should be encouraged to participate in the Van-Mahotsav and should be made aware about the Chipko movement.
  • There should be special audio-visual programmes, demonstrations, seminars and workshops to develop awareness among the people about the importance of the forest.

The Role of Communities in Forest Conservation

Communities have played a vital role in the conservation and protection of forests in India.

Forest Policy, 1894

  • First declared by British government of India on 19 Oct, 1894 on recommendation of Dr. Voelcker.

 

Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)

  • The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) was created in 1987 under the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • Afterward it was constituted into an autonomous body with its headquarters at Dehradun.
    Following research institutions are working under this organisation –
    Forest research Institute, DehradunInstitute of Arid Zone Forestry Research, JodhpurInstitute of Rain and Moist Deciduous Forests, JorhatInstitute of Wood Science and Technology, JabalpurInstitute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding, CoimbatoreTemperate Forest Research Centre, ShimlaCentre for Forest Productivity, Ranchi andCentre for Social Forestry and Environment, Prayagraj

 

Other Initiatives for Forest Conservation

At present there are two major afforestation schemes namely:

1. National Afforestation Programme – NAP

  • Aimed at afforestation and eco-restoration of degraded forests and adjoining areas with emphasis on community participation.
  • The village is reckoned as a unit of planning and implementation and all activities under the programme are conceptualized at the village level.
  • The overall objective of the scheme is to develop the forest resources with people’s participation, with focus on improvement in livelihoods of the forest-fringe communities, especially the poor.
  • Financial support under NAP Scheme is available for:
    Mobilisation of village’s JFMC, and Micro-planning in project villages

 

Afforestation following components:

  • Aided Natural Regeneration
  • Artificial Regeneration
  • Bamboo plantation
  • Cane Plantation
  • Mixed Plantation of trees having MFP & medicinal value
  • Regeneration of perennial herbs & shrubs of medicine value
  • Pasture Development/ Silvipasture
  • Soil & Moisture Conservation
  • Fencing, Monitoring & Evaluation, Training, Awareness raising, Overheads

 

2. National Mission for Green India

  • Aimed at increasing the forest cover of the country along with improving its quality.Commonly called the Green India Mission (GIM) was launched in February 2014.
  • It is one of the eight Missions outlined under India’s action plan for addressing the challenge of climate change -the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
  • There is a component under Green India Mission to support forestry on farm lands for taking up Agroforestry and Social forestry.
  • It aims at protecting; restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures.
  • It envisages a holistic view of greening and focuses on multiple ecosystem services, especially, biodiversity, water, biomass, preserving mangroves, wetlands, critical habitats etc. along with carbon sequestration as a co-benefit.

Mission Goals

  • To increase forest/tree cover to the extent of 5 million hectares (mha) and improve quality of forest/tree cover on another 5 mha of forest/non-forest lands;
  • To improve/enhance ecosystem services like carbon sequestration and storage (in forests and other ecosystems), hydrological services and biodiversity; along with provisioning services like fuel, fodder, and timber and non-timber forest produces (NTFPs); and
  • To increase forest based livelihood income of about 3 million households.

 

Other Government Initiatives for Forest Conservation

1. National Green Highways Mission

  • Launched in July 2016The mission aims to provide a green canopy along 100,000 km of highways and create jobs for 1 million youth.Under the mission, the government has made it mandatory to set aside 1% of the total project cost of any national highway contract to a Green Fund for plantation.
  • Objectives : “To develop eco-friendly National Highways with participation of the community, farmers, NGOs, private sector, institutions, government agencies and the Forest Department for economic growth and development in a sustainable manner.”

2. Nagar Van-Udyan Yojana

  • A programme for climate smart green cities.It is a Pilot scheme recently launched for implementation for a period of five Years.
  • The scheme aims at developing 200 Nagar Van (City Forests) across the country in cities having Municipal Corporation or Municipalities.
  • A Nagar Van-Udyan is a forested area in the vicinity of a city accessible to the city dwellers suitably managed for providing a wholesome natural environment for recreation, conservation education, biodiversity conservation etc.

3. School Nursery Yojana

  • The main objective is to create awareness about the environment and help students identify and learn about the various benefits of trees and plants.
  • It seeks to bring students closer to nature and inculcate in them a sense of urgency to protect the environment.Under the scheme, students will sow seeds and grow saplings in the school nursery as part of their practical exercise for Biology classes or as their extra-curricular activities.
  • The students will also carry out a tree census in their school and the locality.Under this scheme, 1,000 schools of the country will be selected every year and each will raise at least 1,000 saplings by involving students.
  • The saplings, raised by the students, will be planted in areas, earmarked for this purpose in consultation with local civic bodies or panchayats.