NATURAL VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE - Byju's

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NATURAL VEGETATIONHave you observed the type of trees,bushes, grasses and birds in the fieldsand parks in and around your school?Are they similar or there are variations? Indiabeing a vast country you can imagine thetypes of bio-forms available throughout thecountry.Our country India is one of the 12 megabio-diversity countries of the world. Withabout 47,000 plant species India occupiestenth place in the world and fourth in Asia inplant diversity. There are about 15,000flowering plants in India, which account for6 per cent in the world’s total number offlowering plants. The country has many nonflowering plants, such as ferns, algae andfungi. India also has approximately 90,000species of animals, as well as, a rich variety offish in its fresh and marine waters.Natural vegetation refers to a plantcommunity, which has grown naturallywithout human aid and has been leftundisturbed by humans for a long time. Thisis termed as a virgin vegetation. Thus,cultivated crops and fruits, orchards form partof vegetation but not natural vegetation.ANDWILDLIFE5RELIEFLandLand affects the natural vegetation directlyand indirectly. Do you expect the same typeof vegetation in mountainous, plateau andplain areas or in dry and wet regions? Thenature of land influences the type ofvegetation. The fertile level is generally devotedto agriculture. The undulating and roughterrains are areas where grassland andwoodlands develop and give shelter to avariety of wildlife.SoilThe soils also vary over space. Different typesof soils provide basis for different types ofvegetation. The sandy soils of the desertsupport cactus and thorny bushes, while wet,marshy, deltaic soils support mangroves anddeltaic vegetation. The hill slopes with somedepth of soil have conical trees.CLIMATETemperatureThe virgin vegetation, whichare purely Indian are known as endemic orindigenous species but those which have comefrom outside India are termed as exotic plants.The term flora is used to denote plants ofa particular region or period. Similarly, thespecies of animals are referred to as fauna. Thishuge diversity in flora and fauna kingdom isdue to the following factors.The character and extent of vegetation aremainly determined by temperature along withhumidity in the air, precipitation and soil. Onthe slopes of the Himalayas and the hills of thePeninsula above the height of 915 metres, thefall in the temperature affects the types ofvegetation and its growth, and changes it fromtropical to subtropical temperate and alpinevegetation.2019-20

Table 5.1 : Temperature Characteristics of the Vegetation ZonesVegetation ZonesMean annualAverage Temp.(in degree C)Mean Temp.in January(in degree C)RemarksTropicalAbove 24 CAbove 18 No FrostSubtropical17 C to 24 C10 C to 18 CFrost is rareTemperate7 C to 17 C-1 C to (-10 ) CFrost some snowAlpineBelow 7 CBelow–1 CSnowSource : Environment Atlas of India, June 2001, Central Pollution Control Board, DelhiPhotoperiod (Sunlight )The variation in duration of sunlight at differentplaces is due to differences in latitude, altitude,season and duration of the day. Due to longerduration of sunlight, trees grow faster insummer.humus to the soil and shelter to the wildlife.India’s natural vegetation has undergonemany changes due to several factors, such asthe growing demand for cultivated land,development of industries and mining,urbanisation and over-grazing of pastures.ActivityCelebrate Van Mahotsav in your school/localityand plant a few spalings and notice their growthWhy are the southern slopes in Himalayanregion covered with thick vegetation cover as comparedto northern slopes of the same hills?PrecipitationIn India, almost the entire rainfall is brought inby the advancing southwest monsoon (June toSeptember) and retreating northeast monsoons.Areas of heavy rainfall have more dense vegetationas compared to areas of less rainfall.The vegetation cover of India in large partsis no more natural in the real sense. Except insome inaccessible regions, like the Himalayas,the hilly region of central India and themarusthali, the vegetation in most of the areashas been modified at some places, or replacedor degraded by human occupancy.Why are the western stopes of theWestern Ghats covered with thick forests and notthe eastern slopes?ActivityHave you ever thought as to why forestsare important for human beings? Forests arerenewable resources and play a major role inenhancing the quality of environment. Theymodify local climate, control soil erosion,regulate stream flow, support a variety ofindustries, provide livelihood for manycommunities and offer panoramic or scenicview for recreation. They control wind force andtemperature and cause rains. They provideNATURAL VEGETATION AND WILDLIFEStudy the bar graph (Figure 5.1) andanswer the following questions.(i) Name the state having maximum area underforest cover.(ii) Name the union territory having minimumarea under forest cover and why?According to India State ofForest Report 2011, the forest cover in India is21.05 per cent.432019-20

AREA IN PER CENTSTATE/UTFigure 5.1 Area under Forest CoverSource : India State of Forest Report 2013–14TYPES OF VEGETATIONThe following major types of vegetation maybe identified in our country (Figure 5.3).(i) Tropical Evergreen Forests(ii) Tropical Deciduous Forests(iii) Tropical Thorn Forests and Scrubs(iv) Montane Forests(v) Mangrove ForestsTropical Evergreen ForestsThese forests are restricted to heavy rainfallareas of the Western Ghats and the islandgroups of Lakshadweep, Andaman andNicobar, upper parts of Assam and Tamil Naducoast. They are at their best in areas havingmore than 200 cm of rainfall with a short dryseason. The trees reach great heights up to 60metres or even above. Since the region is warmand wet throughout the year, it has a luxuriantvegetation of all kinds — trees, shrubs andcreepers giving it a multilayered structure. Thereis no definite time for trees to shed their leaves.As such, these forests appear green all theyear round.44Figure 5.2 : Tropical Evergreen ForestCONTEMPORARY INDIA-I2019-20

Figure 5.3 : Natural VegetationStudy the given map for the forest cover and try to find the reasons as to why certain states have more forest areaas compared to others?NATURAL VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE452019-20

Some of the commercially important treesof this forest are ebony, mahogany, rosewood,rubber and cinchona.The common animals found in these forestsare elephant, monkey, lemur and deer. Onehorned rhinoceroses are found in the junglesof Assam and West Bengal. Besides theseanimals, plenty of birds, bats, sloth, scorpionsand snails are also found in these jungles.Tropical Deciduous ForestsThese are the most widespread forests of India.They are also called the monsoon forests andspread over the region receiving rainfallbetween 200 cm and 70 cm. Trees of this foresttype shed their leaves for about six to eightweeks in dry summer.On the basis of the availability of water,these forests are further divided into moist anddry deciduous. The former is found in areasreceiving rainfall between 200 and 100 cm.These forests exist, therefore, mostly in theeastern part of the country — northeasternstates, along the foothills of the Himalayas,Jharkhand, West Odisha and Chhattisgarh,and on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.Teak is the most dominant species of this forest.Bamboos, sal, shisham, sandalwood, khair,kusum, arjun and mulberry are othercommercially important species.The dry deciduous forests are found in areashaving rainfall between 100 cm and 70 cm.These forests are found in the rainier parts ofthe Peninsular plateau and the plains of Biharand Uttar Pradesh. There are open stretches,in which teak, sal, peepal and neem grow. Alarge part of this region has been cleared forcultivation and some parts are used for grazing.In these forests, the common animals foundare lion, tiger, pig, deer and elephant. A hugevariety of birds, lizards, snakes and tortoisesare also found here.The Thorn Forests and ScrubsIn regions with less than 70 cm of rainfall, thenatural vegetation consists of thorny trees andbushes. This type of vegetation is found in thenorth-western part of the country, includingsemi-arid areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, MadhyaPradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh andHaryana. Acacias, palms, euphorbias and cactiare the main plant species. Trees are scatteredand have long roots penetrating deep into thesoil in order to get moisture. The stems aresucculent to conserve water. Leaves are mostlythick and small to minimise evaporation. Theseforests give way to thorn forests and scrubs inarid areas.In these forests, the common animals arerats, mice, rabbits, fox, wolf, tiger, lion, wildass, horses and camels.Figure 5.4 : Tropical Deciduous ForestFigure 5.5 : Thorn Forests and Scrubs46CONTEMPORARY INDIA-I2019-20

Montane ForestsIn mountainous areas, the decrease intemperature with increasing altitude leads tothe corresponding change in naturalvegetation. As such, there is a succession ofnatural vegetation belts in the same order aswe see from the tropical to the tundra region.The wet temperate type of forests are foundbetween a height of 1000 and 2000 metres.Evergreen broad-leaf trees, such as oaks andchestnuts predominate. Between 1500 and3000 metres, temperate forests containingconiferous trees, like pine, deodar, silver fir,spruce and cedar, are found. These forestscover mostly the southern slopes of theHimalayas, places having high altitude insouthern and north-east India. At higherelevations, temperate grasslands are common.At high altitudes, generally, more than 3,600metres above the sea level, temperate forestsand grasslands give way to the Alpinevegetation. Silver fir, junipers, pines andbirches are the common trees of these forests.However, they get progressively stunted asthey approach the snow-line. Ultimately,through shrubs and scrubs, they merge intothe Alpine grasslands. These are usedextensively for grazing by nomadic tribes, likethe Gujjars and the Bakarwals. At higheraltitudes, mosses and lichens form part oftundra vegetation.The common animals found in these forestsare Kashmir stag, spotted dear, wild sheep, jackrabbit, Tibetan antelope, yak, snow leopard,squirrels, Shaggy horn wild ibex, bear and rarered panda, sheep and goats with thick hair.Mangrove ForestsThe mangrove tidal forests are found in theareas of coasts influenced by tides. Mud andsilt get accumutated on such coasts. Densemangroves are the common varieties with rootsof the plants submerged under water. Thedeltas of the Ganga, the Mahanadi, theKrishna, the Godavari and the Kaveri arecovered by such vegetation. In the GangaBrahmaputra delta, sundari trees are found,which provide durable hard timber. Palm,coconut, keora, agar, etc., also grow in someparts of the delta.Royal Bengal Tiger is the famous animalin these forests. Turtles, crocodiles, gharialsand snakes are also found in these forests.Figure 5.7 : Mangrove ForestsLet us discuss : What will happen if plants andanimals disappear from the earth’s surface? Canthe human beings survive under such a situation?Why is biodiversity necessary and why should it beconserved?Figure 5.6 : Montane ForestsNATURAL VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE472019-20

MEDICINAL PLANTSIndia is known for its herbs and spices from ancient times. Some 2,000 plants have been described in Ayurvedaand at least 500 are in regular use. The World Conservation Union’s Red List has named 352 medicinal plantsof which 52 are critically threatened and 49 endangered. The commonly used plants in India are:SarpagandhaJamunArjunBaboolNeemTulsiKachnar: Used to treat blood pressure; it is found only in India.: The juice from ripe fruit is used to prepare vinegar, which is carminative and diuretic, andhas digestive properties. The powder of the seed is used for controlling diabetes.: The fresh juice of leaves is a cure for earache. It is also used to regulate blood pressure.: Leaves are used as a cure for eye sores. Its gum is used as a tonic.: Has high antibiotic and antibacterial properties.: Is used to cure cough and cold.: Is used to cure asthma and ulcers. The buds and roots are good for digestive problems.Identify more medicinal plants in your area. Which plants are used as medicines by localpeople to cure some diseases?Source : Medicinal Plants by Dr. S.K. Jain, 5th edition 1994, National Book Trust of Indiadifferent species of deer are someother animals found in India. It alsohas several species of monkeys.Wildlife Protection Actwas implemented in 1972 in India.ActivityCan you identify the type of forest shown in this picture?Identify some trees in it. What type of similarity/dissimilarity you notice in this type of vegetation fromthe one found in your region?WILDLIFELike its flora, India is also rich in its fauna. Ithas approximately 90,000 animal species.The country has about 2,000 species of birds.They constitute 13% of the world’s total. Thereare 2,546 species of fish, which account fornearly 12% of the world’s stock. It also sharesbetween 5 and 8 per cent of the world’samphibians, reptiles and mammals.The elephants are the most majesticanimals among the mammals. They are foundin the hot wet forests of Assam, Karnataka andKerala. One-horned rhinoceroses are the otheranimals, which live in swampy and marshylands of Assam and West Bengal. Arid areasof the Rann of Kachchh and the Thar Desertare the habitat for wild ass and camelsrespectively. Indian bison, nilgai (blue bull),chousingha (four-horned antelope), gazel andIndia is the only country in theworld that has both tigers and lions.The natural habitat of the Indian lionis the Gir forest in Gujarat. Tigers arefound in the forests of Madhya Pradesh,the Sundarbans of West Bengal and theHimalayan region. Leopards, too, aremembers of the cat family. They areimportant among animals of prey.Do you knowThe Gir Forest is thelast remaining habitatof the Asiatic lion.The Himalayas harbour a hardy range ofanimals, which survive in extreme cold.Ladakh’s freezing high altitudes are a home toyak, the shaggy horned wild ox weighingaround one tonne, the Tibetan antelope, thebharal (blue sheep), wild sheep, and the kiang(Tibetan wild ass). Furhtermore, the ibex, bear,snow-leopard and rare red panda are foundin certain pockets.In the rivers, lakes and coastal areas,turtles, crocodiles and gharials are found. The48CONTEMPORARY INDIA-I2019-20

DamparaFigure 5.8 : Wildlife ReservesNATURAL VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE492019-20

latter is the only representative of a variety ofcrocodile, found in the world today.Bird life in India is colourful. Peacocks,pheasants, ducks, parakeets, cranes andpigeons are some of the birds inhabiting theforests and wetlands of the country.We have selected our crops from abio-diverse environment, i.e., from the reserveof edible plants. We also experimented andselected many medicinal plants. The animalswere selected from large stock provided bynature as milch animal. They also providedus draught power, transportation, meat andeggs. The fish provide nutritive food. Manyinsects help in pollination of crops and fruittrees and exerting biological control on suchinsects is harmful. Every species has a role toplay in the ecosystem. Hence, conservation isessential. As has been mentioned earlier dueto excessive exploitation of plant and animalresources by human beings, the ecosystemhas been disturbed. About 1,300 plant(i)(ii)(iii)(iv)species are endangered and 20 species areextinct. Quite a few animal species are alsoendangered and some have become extinct.The main causes for this major threat tonature are hunting by greedy hunters forcommercial purposes. Pollution due tochemical and industrial waste, acid deposits,introduction of alien species and recklesscutting of the forests to bring land undercultivation and habitation, are alsoresponsible for the imbalance.To protect the flora and fauna of thecountry, the government has taken manysteps.(i) Eighteen biosphere reserves have beenset up in the country to protect flora andfauna. Ten out of these, the SundarbansNanda Devi, the Gulf of Mannar, the Nilgiri,Nokrek, Great Nicobar, Manas, Simlipal,Pachmarhi and Achanakmar-Amarkantakhave been included in the world networkof biosphere reserves.ActivityFind out from the above newspaper cuttings, the main concern highlighted in the given news items.Collect more information about various endangered species from newspapers and magazines.Find out various steps taken by the Indian government to protect them.Describe how you can contribute to the protection of endangered animals and birds.50CONTEMPORARY INDIA-I2019-20

Migratory BirdsSome of the wetlands of India are popularwith migratory birds. During winter,birds, such as Siberian Crane, comein large numbers. One such placefavourable with birds is the Rann ofKachchh. At a place where the desertmerges with the sea, flamingo with theirbrilliant pink plumage come in thousandsto build nest mounds from the salty mudand raise their young ones. It is oneamong many extraordinary sights in thecountry. Is it not a rich natural heritageof ours? SundarbansGulf of MannarNilgiriNanda DeviNokrekGreat NicobarManas SeshachalamPanna(iii) Project Tiger, Project Rhino, ProjectGreat Indian Bustard and many othereco-developmental projects have beenintroduced.(iv) 103 National Parks, 535 Wildlifesanctuaries and Zoological gardens are setup to take care of natural heritage. Eighteen Bio-reservesSimlipalDihang-DibangDibru kmar-Amarkantak(ii) Financial and technical assistance isprovided to many botanical gardens by thegovernment since 1992. Kachchh Cold DesertAll of us must realise the importance of thenatural ecosystem for our own survival. It ispossible if indiscriminate destruction of naturalenvironment is put to an immediate end.EXERCISE1. Choose the right answer from the four alternatives given below:(i) To which one of the following types of vegetation does rubber belong to?(a) Tundra(c) Himalayan(b) Tidal(d) Tropical Evergreen(ii) Cinchona trees are found in the areas of rainfall more than(a) 100 cm(c) 70 cm(b) 50 cm(d) less than 50 cm(iii) In which of the following state is the Simlipal bio-reserve located?(a) Punjab(b) Delhi(c)(d) West BengalOdisha(iv) Which one of the following bio-reserves of India is not included in the worldnetwork of bioreserve?(a) Manas(c) Gulf of Mannar(b) Nilgiri(d) Nanda DeviNATURAL VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE512019-20

2. Answer the following questions briefly.(i) What factors are responsible for the distribution of plants and animals inIndia?(ii) What is a bio-reserve? Give two examples.(iii) Name two animals having habitat in tropical and montane type of vegetation.3. Distinguish between(i) Flora and Fauna(ii) Tropical Evergreen and Deciduous forests4. Name different types of Vegetation found in India and describe the vegetation ofhigh altitudes.5. Quite a few species of plants and animals are endangered in India. Why?6. Why has India a rich heritage of flora and fauna?Map SkillsOn an outline map of India, label the following.(i) Areas of Evergreen Forests(ii) Areas of Dry Deciduous Forests(iii) Two national parks each in Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western partsof the CountryProject/Activity(i) Find some trees in your neighbourhood having medicinal values.(ii) Find ten occupations getting raw material from forests and wildlife.(iii) Write a poem or paragraph showing the importance of wildlife.(iv) Write the script of a street play giving the importance of tree plantation andtry to enact it in your locality.(v) Plant a tree either on your birthday or one of your family member’s birthday.Note the growth of the tree and notice in which season it grows faster.52CONTEMPORARY INDIA-I2019-20

NATURAL VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE 43 Photoperiod (Sunlight ) The variation in duration of sunlight at diff