Revision Notes for Class 10 Geography – Chapter 2 Forest and Wildlife Resources

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Humans along with all living organisms form a complex web of ecological system. Forests play a key role in the ecological system as these are also the primary producers on which all other living beings depend. India is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of its biological diversity.

Flora and Fauna in India:

  • It is estimated that at least 10 per cent of India’s recorded wild flora and 20 per cent of its mammals are on the threatened list.
  • Many of these have been categorised as ‘critical’ and are on the verge of extinction, such as:
    • Animals: Cheetah, pink-headed duck, mountain quail, forest spotted owlet, and
    • Plants: madhuca insignis (a wild variety of mahua) and hubbardia heptaneuron,(a species of grass).

Different categories of plants and animal species:

The following classification is done based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN):

  • Normal Species: Species whose population levels are considered to be normal for their survival, such as cattle, sal, pine, rodents, etc.
  • Endangered Species: These are species which are in danger of extinction. For example – Asian lion, Bengal tiger etc.
  • Vulnerable Species: These are species whose population has declined to levels from where it is likely to move into the endangered category in the near future.
  • Rare Species: Species with small population may move into the endangered or vulnerable category if the negative factors affecting them continue to operate. For example – Himalayan brown bear, wild Asiatic buffalo, desert fox and hornbill, etc.
  • Endemic Species: These are species which are only found in some particular areas usually isolated by natural or geographical barriers. For examples – the Andaman teal, Nicobar pigeon, Andaman wild pig, mithun in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Extinct Species: These species are not found after searches of known or likely areas where they may occur. A species may be extinct from a local area, region, country, continent or the entire earth.
    Examples of such species are the Asiatic cheetah, pink head duck.

Reasons for Depletion of Flora and Fauna:

  • Habitat destruction, hunting, poaching, over-exploitation, environmental pollution, poisoning and forest fires are factors.
  • Other causes of environmental destruction are unequal access, inequitable consumption of resources and differential sharing of responsibility for environmental well-being.

Socio-Cultural Impact of Loss of Forest:

The biological loss is strongly correlated with the loss of cultural diversity.

  • Such losses have increasingly marginalised and impoverished many indigenous and other forestdependent communities.
  • Forest communities directly depend on various components of the forest and wildlife for food, drink, medicine, culture, spirituality, etc.

Conservation of Forest and Wildlife in India

Conservation preserves the ecological diversity and our life support systems – water, air and soil. It also preserves the genetic diversity of plants and animals for better growth of species and breeding.

Steps Taken to Protect and Conserve Wildlife

  • Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972: It has various provisions for protecting habitats. An all India list of protected species was also published. The thrust of the programme was towards protecting the remaining population of certain endangered species by banning hunting, giving legal protection to their habitats, and restricting trade in wildlife.
  • The central government also announced several projects for protecting specific animals, which were gravely threatened, including the tiger, the one-horned rhinoceros, etc.
  • The plants were also added to the list for the first time in 1991.

Types and Distribution of Forest and Wildlife Resources

In India, much of its forest and wildlife resources are either owned or managed by the government through the Forest Department or other government departments. These are classified under the following categories:

  • Reserved Forest: These are regarded as the most valuable as far as the conservation of forest and wildlife resources are concerned. It covers more than half of the total forest land.
  • Protected Forests: It covers almost one-third of the total forest area and as declared by the Forest Department. This forest land are protected from any further depletion.
  • Unclassed Forests: These are other forests and wastelands belonging to both government and private individuals and communities.

Reserved and Protected Forests are also referred to as permanent forest estates maintained for the purpose of producing timber and other forest produce, and for protective reasons.The largest area under permanent forests is in Madhya Pradesh.

Community and Conservation

Conservation strategies are not new in India and forests are also home to some of the traditional communities. In some areas of India, local communities are struggling to conserve these habitats along with government officials, recognising that only this will secure their own long-term livelihood.

  • The famous Chipko movement in the Himalayas has not only successfully resisted deforestation in several areas but has also shown that community afforestation with indigenous species can be enormously successful.
  • Farmers and citizen’s groups like the Beej Bachao Andolan in Tehri and Navdanya have shown that adequate levels of diversified crop production without the use of synthetic chemicals are possible and economically viable.
  • Joint Forest Management (JFM) programme: It furnishes a good example for involving local communities in the management and restoration of degraded forests. (Odisha passed the first resolution for joint forest management). It depends on local institutions which took forestation drive on degraded land, mostly controlled by forest department.
  • Sacred Grooves: Nature worship is an age old tribal belief based on the premise that all creations of nature have to be protected. Such beliefs have preserved several virgin forests in pristine form called Sacred Groves (the forests of God and Goddesses).

Interesting points

  • Biodiversity or Biological Diversity: It is immensely rich in wildlife and cultivated species, diverse in form and function but closely integrated in a system through multiple network of interdependencies.
  • Asian cheetah: It is world’s fastest land mammal and is nearly extinct due to a decline of available habitat and prey. The species was declared extinct in India long back in 1952.
  • The Buxa Tiger Reserve is in West Bengal.
  • Enrichment Plantation: In this single commercially valuable species is extensively planted and other species are eliminated. For instance, teak monoculture has damaged the natural forest in South India and Chir Pine plantations in the Himalayas have replaced the Himalayan oak and Rhododendron forests.
  • The Himalayan Yew (Taxus wallachiana): This is a medicinal plant found in various parts of Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. A chemical compound called ‘taxol’ is extracted from the bark, needles, twigs and roots of this tree, and it has been successfully used to treat some cancers – the drug is now the biggest selling anti-cancer drug in the world.
  • “Project Tiger”: It is one of the well-publicised wildlife campaigns for saving tigers and was launched in 1973.

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