Natural Vegetation and Wild Life of India

  • Post last modified:21 January 2023
  • Reading time:16 mins read

Natural Vegetation of India

India ranks tenth in the list of twelve mega bio-diversity counties of the world because of its rich plant species which counts to be approximately 47,000. It ranks fourth in Asia in plant diversity. India contributes 6% of the world’s total flowering plants which comes to be 15000 in number. India has many non flowering plants too like algae, ferns, and fungi.

The country has 89000 species of animals and a variety of fresh water and marine water fish. The cultivated crops and fruits and the orchard form a part of vegetation but not natural vegetation as the natural vegetation is the plant community which grows naturally without the interference of human activity and is left untouched by the humans for a long duration.

Flora is the plant life occurring in the particular region and fauna is all the animal life of any particular region. The variety in the flora and fauna is due to the factors like, type of soil, land, climate, temperature and rainfall etc.

Forests

India experiences rainfall due to the advance south west monsoon and the retreating monsoon (June to September). Areas having more rainfall have dense vegetation than the areas getting less rainfall. Forests play a major role to boost up the quality of environment. The contribution of this renewable resource is as follows:

  • Modification of local climate

  • Controlling of soil erosion

  • Regulating the stream flow

  • Supporting a variety of industries

  • Providing livelihood for many communities

  • Offering panoramic or scenic view for recreation

  • Controlling wing force and temperature resulting in rainfall

  • Providing humus to soil and shelter to wildlife

The factors like the growing demand for cultivated land, development of the industries and mining, urbanisation and over grazing are responsible for diminishing natural vegetation of India. Due to the human activity the vegetation of the country is no longer the same except in some hilly regions like central India and Marusthali and the Himalayas. Nearly 22.8 percent of India’s total area is covered by the evergreen forests, constituting 2 percent of the world’s forest area.

The forests in India are divided into eight distinct floristic regions, such as:

  • Western Himalayas (Extending from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh cutting through Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Meghalaya, Nagaland and the Deccan Peninsula).

  • Eastern Himalayas (Extending from Sikkim eastwards and Covering Darjeeling, Kurseong).

  • Assam (Brahmaputra and the Surma Valleys).

  • Indus Plain (Plains of Punjab, western Rajasthan and northern Gujarat).

  • Ganga plain (a small area consisting of differing types of flora).

  • Deccan plateau area.

  • Malabar (Humid belt of the mountain country to the west coast of the peninsula).

  • Middle India (Vindhya, Chhotanagpur and Satpura mountain range area).

Types of Vegetation

Our country has the following major types of vegetation

Tropical rain Forests

These forests are present in the areas which receive heavy rainfall i.e. 200 cm with a short dry season. The trees acquire the height of up to 60 cm or even high. This warm and wet region has the evergreen forests with a variety of vegetation such as trees, shrubs and creepers.

Some trees of commercial importance of this forest are ebony, mahagony, rosewood, rubber and cinchona. The animals found in this region are elephants, lemurs, monkeys and deer. One horned rhinoceros are found on the jungles of Assam and West Bengal. Also a lot of bats, birds, sloths scorpions and snails are found in this jungle.

Tropical Deciduous Forests

They are also known as the Monsoon Forests and cover the maximum area in the country. They are usually present in the area receiving the rainfall between 200 cm and 70 cm. The trees in these forests shed their leaves for six to eight weeks in dry summer. They are further divided into moist and dry deciduous forests on the basis of availability of water.

The moist deciduous forests are found in the eastern region of the country, more precisely in the north-eastern states, along the foothills of Himalayas and Jharkhand, west Odisha and Chattisgarh and on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. They exist in the areas with rainfall between 200 to 100 cm. Here Teak is the most dominant species and others are Bamboo, Sal, Teak, Sandalwood and Mulberry.

The dry deciduous forests are found in the rainier areas of the peninsular plateau and the plains of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh with the dominating trees species of Teak, Sal, Peepal and Neem. They are found in the areas having rainfall between 100 cm to 70 cm. The animals found in these forests are lion, tiger, deer, and elephant. Lot of birds and variety of reptiles like lizards, snakes and tortoise is also found.

Tropical Thorn Forests and Scrubs

This type of forest is present in the north-western part of the country including semi-arid areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. They exist in the region with rainfall less than 70 cm and consist of trees like Acacia, Palms, Euphorbias and Cacti. The trees have long penetrating roots to get moisture. Animals in these areas are rats, mice, rabbits, fox, wolf, tiger, lion, wild ass, horses and camels.

Mountain Forests

This includes the wet temperate type of forest with evergreen broad leaf trees such as oak and chestnuts. They are found in region of 1000 to 2000 m. The temperate forests containing coniferous trees like pine, deodar, silver fur and cedar are found in the area between 1500 m and 3000 m. These forests are found in the southern slopes of Himalayas and places with high altitude in southern and northeast India.

The Alpine vegetation is present in the areas having an elevation of 3600 m above the sea level containing trees like silver fir, junipers, pines and birches. These are used for grazing by nomadic tribes like Gujjars and Bakarwals. The animals found in this region are Kashmir stag, spotted deer, wild sheep, jack rabbit, snow leopard, red panda, sheep and goats with thick hair.

Mangrove Forests

The Mangrove forests are found in the coastal areas with their roots submerged underwater. They can be found in the deltas of Ganga, Notes 31 Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari and Kaveri. Ganga- Bramhaputra delta has the Sundari trees known for its hard timber. Other than this, palm, coconut, keora and agar also grow. Royal Bengal tigers, snakes, Ghadiyals and crocodiles are found in these forests.

Wild Life of India

India constitutes of 13% of the world’s total fauna with 89000 species of animals, 1200 of birds and 2500 species of fish. It also contributes to 5 to 8 % of the world’s amphibians, reptiles and mammals. The animals range from elephants to one-horned rhinoceroses. The arid areas are habitat for the wild ass and the camels.

Other animals are Indian bison, nilgai, chousingha, gazel and monkeys. India is the only country having both tigers and lions in the Sundarbans and the Gir forests respectively. Ladakh is the home for the yak, shaggy horned wild horse, Tibetan antelope ibex, bear, snow leopard and red panda. India has also a good variety of crocodiles and turtles in its water. Birds like peacocks, pigeons, parakeets, cranes and ducks are also found.

To protect the flora and fauna of the country the government has taken the following steps:

  • They have set up 14 biosphere reserves in the country

  • They provide financial and technical assistance to botanical gardens since 1992.

  • They have introduced project tiger, project rhino, project great Indian Bustard and many other

  • 89 national parks, 49 wildlife sanctuaries and zoological garden are set up.

Mineral Resources of India

Fairly rich in minerals India has large reserves of iron ore, coal, manganese, copper and mica. The valleys of the river Domodar in West Bangal and Jharkhand, the valley of the river Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha and the Godavori basin in Maharastra and Andhra Pradesh, contain practically the entire mineral wealth of the country.

The significant mineral deposits outside this area are petroleum, copper and gold. Gold, silver and diamonds make up a small part of other natural resources available in India. Major portion of the energy in India is generated from coal, and the eastern and central region of the country has the highest reserve of coal. Huge reserves of petroleum have been found off the coast of Maharastra and Gujrat.

Electrical energy is generated by hydroelectric power, coal and nuclear energy. In villages around India, people use wood or dired cow- dung cakes as fuel for cooking and heating water. The demand for firewood and the increasing population is affecting the existing forests.

Flora and Fauna of India

Another natural resource is forest resource. Forestry is a primary activity and depends for the development to a great extent on the physical environmental conditions. Timber and firewood are called major forest products while the rest are minor forest products.

Timber producing forests grow mainly in areas of ample precipitation and the major species of such trees in India are teak, sal, shisham, deodar and pine. The sandal wood tree, a valuable species, grows in Karnataka. Bamboo, gum and the leaves of some trees are important forest products. Which are used in many purposes. Kattha and Lac (sealing wax) are also obtained from the forests of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Natural resources hold a lot of significance for tourism development. For example, ecotourism is nature based and emphasizes on conservation of resource. The north east India is recognized as a region uniquely rich in biodiversity. This region has environmental diversities for its tropical locations, varied physical features and climatic types. These include sanctuaries, lakes and rivers, adventure spots etc and these offer enormous opportunities for development of eco tourism.

Vegetation of India

The main vegetation regions of India are the following:

  • Broadleaf deciduous: Extensive area in northwestern India and Pakistan. Shrubs can grow to a maximum of one meter (three feet) singly or in groups.

  • Broadleaf deciduous: Same as above except trees grow to a minimum of one meter singly or in groups. It surrounds the area above.

  • Broadleaf deciduous ( terai): An extensive area from the Gangetic Plains to southern India. Terai Lowlands in Nepal.

  • Broadleaf evergreen: Malabar Coast, Coromandel Coast and Sri Lanka.

  • Semi-deciduous: broadleaf evergreen and broadleaf deciduous: They are found in an area inward from the Malabar Coast and the lower valley of the Ganges.

  • Broadleaf deciduous trees. Bihar and Orissa. Broadleaf evergreen, shrub form, minimum height one meter (3 feet).

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