Posted in Environment, Geography

Natural Vegetation in India

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As in any other part of the world, the natural vegetation of India is also determined by climate, physiographic and soil factors. We find that based on factors of temperature, rainfall and topographic conditions, India has diverse vegetation patterns as summarized below. Dense natural vegetation found in North-Eastern region, Western Ghats and Andaman Nicobar. The Northern plain and North-Western Region supports very scanty vegetation and is under cultivation. The Deccan region is full of scrubs and mixed deciduous forests. Natural vegetation of India can broadly be divided into the following groups:


(i) Tropical Evergreen Forests
(ii) Tropical Deciduous Forests
(iii) Thorn Forests
(iv) Tidal Forests
(v) Himalayan Forests

(i) Tropical Evergreen Forests

Trees in these forests remain green all the year round as the climate of the region is warm and wet throughout the year. The leaves of these trees do not fall in any particular season. Hence, they are evergreen. These forests are found in the areas having more than 200 cm of rainfall with a short dry season. The trees reach a height up to 60 meters or even more. It has dense and mixed vegetation of all kinds including trees, shrubs, climbers, creepers, epiphytes, and ferns giving it a multilayered structure. Hence, their economic exploitation is not viable. The number of species of trees is very large in a small area. Rosewood, ebony, mahogany, rubber, jack wood and bamboo are the important species of trees found in Tropical Evergreen Forests. In India, this type of vegetation is found in the areas of heavy rainfall in the Western Ghats, upper parts of Assam and islands of Lakshadweep, Andaman, and Nicobar. Hardwood from these forests is used for furniture, handicraft etc. They prevent landslides and soil erosion.[Wordads]

(ii) Tropical Deciduous Forests

Trees in these forests shed their leaves once in a year. That is why they are called tropical deciduous forests. These are the most widespread forests of India. These forests are found in the areas receiving annual rainfall between 75 to 200 cms. As far as the physical distribution of this type of forests is concerned they are found in the entire country excluding some parts of Deccan Plateau, North-Eastern Region, Western Ghats, and Eastern coast. These forests have been subject to extensive clearance by man for the purpose of cultivation. Still, some patches of natural vegetation are found along the foothills of the Himalayas, hilly regions of the peninsula and central part of the country. On the basis of the availability of rainfall, these forests are further divided into moist deciduous and dry deciduous.

(a) The moist deciduous forests are found in the areas of rainfall between 100
to 200 cm. These are distributed mainly in the eastern parts of the country, Northeastern states along the foothills of the Himalayas, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, and eastern slopes of Western Ghats. Teak, Bamboo, Sal, Shisham, Sandalwood, Khair, Kusum, Arjun, Mahua, Jamun and Mulberry are the important species of trees found in these forests.

(b) The dry deciduous forests are spread in the areas receiving annual rainfall
between 75 to 100 cms annually. These forests are found in the interior parts of the Peninsular plateau and the plains of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Tree species of these forest are Teak, Sal, Peepal, and Neem.

(iii) Thorn Forests

The areas with less than 75 cm of annual rainfall are characterized by the natural vegetation of thorny trees and bushes. Climate of this part is mainly dry with occasional wet period, so it does not support dense vegetation. They are mainly found in North-Western India, interior parts of the Peninsular India including semi arid areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh,

arid areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Vegetation of these forests is widely distributed in the form of small trees and bushes with deep roots. The stems are succulent to conserve water. Leaves are mostly thick and small to minimize evaporation. Acacia, euphorbias, babul, cacti, khair, date and palms are common variety of trees in this type of vegetation.

(iv) Tidal Forests

As suggested by the name, these forests are found in tidal creeks and swamps influenced by the tides and wetland topography. These areas are characterized by mud, silt and water accumulated on the surface. Roots and branches of the trees are submerged under water for specific period of time. They are also called mangrove forests. Mangroves are practically evergreen with thick leathery leaves. Such types of forests are found in the deltas of Sundarbans, Mahanadi, the Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri rivers and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Mangrove or Sundari is the common tree in sunderbans while palm, coconut, keora, and agar are other important species of tidal forest. It is interesting to know that this type of forests have remained away from the large scale commercial exploitation. These forests are located along the coasts. They provide protection against cyclones.

(v) Himalayan Forest

As is evident by the name that these forests are mainly found in the mountainous region of the Himalayas. The decreasing in temperature and increase in altitude lead to varied types of vegetation depending upon the factors like the slope of the mountain and sunrays receiving side. The ecosystem is highly fragile. Himalayan forests have been exploited in many ways in recent decades. Areas with relatively low altitude up to 1000 meters, warm climate and the good amount of rainfall are characterized by dense vegetation cover. These areas look like a tropical forest. Sal and Bamboo are the main species in these areas. Between the elevation of 1000 to 2000 meters evergreen broad leave, Oak and Chestnut are the common species found in these forests. In the eastern Himalayas, the same elevation is occupied by subtropical Pine forests. Chir is a common species found in this part. Moist temperate forest in the Himalayas are found between the elevation 1500 to 3500 meters which receives annual rainfall in the range of 100 to 250 cm. Oak, Laurel, chestnut, cedar, Silver, Fir, spruce rhododendron and deodar are the main species found in this part of Himalayas. They have been widely exploited for their timber. Alpine forest found in the Himalayas at the height of between 3000 to 3800 mts with large and extensive highland grassland and sparsely distributed pine, birch, silver, fir and rhododendron trees.

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