Natural Vegetation and Wildlife
- Natural vegetation : A plant community that has grown naturally without human aid is called natural vegetation.
- Virgin vegetation : Natural vegetation that has been left undisturbed by humans for a long time is called virgin vegetation.
- Biodiversity : Biodiversity in a region typically refers to its flora and fauna.
- Endemic species : Virgin vegetation that is purely Indian is known as endemic or indigenous species.
- Exotic plants : Plants that have come from outside India are termed exotic plants, like some species of orchids.
- Flora : Flora refers to the plants of a particular region or period.
- Fauna : Fauna is the collective term for the species of animals in a particular region or period.
- Van Mahotsav : The Van Mahotsav is a forest festival started in 1950 by K. M. Munshi.
- Biome : A very large ecosystem on land with distinct types of vegetation and animal life is called a biome.
- Monsoon forests : These forests depend on the monsoon, and are also known as tropical deciduous forests. Rainfall in these areas ranges from 70 to 200 cm.
- Deciduous forests : Deciduous forests are forests that are dominated by trees that lose their leaves each year. These types of forest are found in areas with warm, moist summers and fairly mild winters.
- Coniferous forests : They are evergreen cone-bearing trees with needle shaped leaves found between 1,600 and 3,000 metre above the sea level, e.g., Pine, Spruce, Cedar, etc.
- Thorny and Scrub forests : Because of dominance of thorny trees, bushes and scrubs, they are called thorn and scrub forests. . They grow in dry areas of less than 75 cm of annual rainfall.
- Montane forests : These are very different in their make-up from other types of forests, as the temperature and soil conditions vary on different altitudes.
- Mangrove forests : Mangrove forests are usually found in coastal areas. Dense mangrove forests are found in the deltas of the Ganga, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishana and Kaveri. Wild animals such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, crocodile, gharial, turtle and snake are found here.
- Biosphere Reserves : It is a forest area where all types of flora and fauna are preserved in their natural environment, e.g., Nanda Devi.
- National Parks : They are relatively large areas where one or several ecosystems exist and where plants and animals species, geomorphological sites and habitats are of special educative and recreative interests, e.g., Jim Corbett Park.
- Wildlife Sanctuary : It is similar to national park but is dedicated to protect wildlife and conserve species, e.g., Gir Lion Sanctuary.
Biodiversity–Natural Vegetation and Wildlife
- A plant community that has grown naturally without human aid is called natural vegetation. Natural vegetation that has been left undisturbed by humans for a long time is called virgin vegetation. Sacred groves are forests that have been protected for ages by traditional societies.
- Virgin vegetation that is purely Indian is known as ‘endemic or indigenous species’. Plants that have come from outside India are termed ‘exotic plants’, like some species of orchids.
- Biodiversity in a region typically refers to its flora and fauna. Flora refers to the plants of a particular region or period. Fauna is a collective term used for the species of animals in a particular region or period.
- Biodiversity is influenced by relief, climate and ecosystem in a region.
- Relief in a region includes the land and the soil-type found there. Different types of soils provide the basis for different types of vegetation.
- Climate refers to three aspects of a region-the temperature, the photoperiod or duration of sunlight and precipitation. These aspects, along with the soil and land type, determine the type and extent of vegetation.
- As the temperature rises, the type of vegetation slowly changes. The factors that determine the duration of sunlight are : The latitude of a region, the altitude of a region and the duration of the day.
- Areas of heavy rainfall typically have more dense vegetation as compared to areas of less rainfall.
Forests and Ecosystem
- Forests are important as they are renewable resources that affect our environment in a variety of ways. They control climate, soil erosion and pollution. Forests support a variety of industries, helping provide livelihood for many communities.
- There are very few areas left in India where the vegetation can be called natural in the true sense of the word, like the Himalayas, the hilly region of Central India and the Marusthali, parts of the desert. According to Indian State of Forest Report 2011, the forest cover in India is 21.05%.
- A number of factors have caused extensive modification of vegetation and depletion of forest cover:
- growing demand for cultivated land,
- the development of industries and mining,
- urbanisation, and
- over-grazing of pastures.
- The ‘Van Mahotsav’ is a forest festival started in 1950 by K. M. Munshi with the purpose to create enthusiasm among the masses for forest conservation and planting trees. Vegetation varies across areas because plants grow in distinct groups of communities, where each community belongs to an area with similar climatic conditions.
- The flora, the fauna and the physical environment of an area form an ecosystem. Human beings have a huge impact on the ecosystem. They utilize the vegetation and wildlife for food, medicine, and for a variety of other purposes. When the utilisation of these resources is not regulated, it results in ecological imbalance.
- A very large ecosystem on land with distinct types of vegetation and animal life is called a biome. An ecosystem can be as large as a desert and as small as a puddle. A biome is much bigger than an ecosystem.
- Biomes are identified on the basis of plants. Mountains, deserts, grasslands, oceans and wetlands are all examples of biomes.
Types Of Vegetation
- The major types of vegetation in India are tropical evergreen forests, tropical deciduous forests, tropical thorny and scrubs forests, montane forests and mangrove forests.
- Tropical evergreen forests are characterized by heavy rainfall and a warm climate. The commercially important trees grown in this area are ebony, mahogany, rosewood, rubber and cinchona. These forests also have a variety of animals like elephants, monkey, lemur and deer and various birds, bats, sloth, scorpions and snails.
- Tropical deciduous forests make up most of the forest area in India. These forests depend on the monsoon, and are also known as monsoon forests. Rainfall in these areas ranges from 70 to 200 cm. The areas that receive between 100 and 200 cm rains are known as moist deciduous, like along the foothills of the Himalayas, Jharkhand, Western Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
- Commercially important trees here include teak, bamboo, sal, shisham, sandalwood, khair, kusum, arjun and mulberry. They have a long dry season followed by a season of heavy rainfall. The trees in a monsoon forest usually shed their leaves during the dry season and come into leaf at the start of the rainy season.
- The areas that receive between 70 and 100 cm rainfall are classified as dry deciduous forests, like the plains of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. These are sparsely populated with the teak, sal, peepal and neem trees. The animals found here are elephants, lions, tigers and deer with a variety of birds, lizards, snakes and tortoises.
- Unlike evergreen and deciduous forests, the vegetation in thorny forests and scrubs is restricted to thorn plants and scrubs due to scanty rainfall. The rainfall is below 70 cm like the semi-arid areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
- The stems of these plants are fleshy to conserve water for a longer period. The leaves are like thorns to minimise evaporation. Trees like the acacias, palms, euphorbias and cacti are common here, along with animals like rabbits, foxes, wolves, tigers, lions, horses and camels.
- Montane forests are found in mountainous regions primarily in Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.
- These are very different in their make-up from other types of forests, as the temperature and soil conditions vary on different altitudes.
- The animals found here are the Kashmir stag, spotted deer, wild sheep, jack rabbit, Tibetan antelope, yak and snow leopard.
- A snow-line is the edge of the habitat, beyond which there is no vegetation due to severe weather conditions.
- The mangrove forests are usually found in coastal areas. Mangroves are a variety of plants and trees with their roots submerged in water. Dense mangrove forests are found in the deltas of the Ganga, the Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishana and the Kaveri. Wild animals such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, crocodile, gharial, turtle and snake are found here.
Wildlife And Conservation Of Flora And Fauna
- India has a rich biodiversity and is home to around 1.6 million or nearly 8% of all the species of flora and fauna found in the world. India is also home to over 90,000 species of fauna, including birds, insects and land and water animals.
- Besides being the only country to have both lions and tigers in its forests, India is one of the few countries that have a habitat to support large land animals like the elephant.
- The Himalayas harbour some large land animals like the yak and the shaggy-horned wild ox found in the freezing high altitudes of Laddakh. Some rare species of wild animals include the snow leopard, the red panda, the ibex and the Himalayan brown bear.
- The wildlife in the Indian rivers, lakes and coastal areas is equally rich with various species of reptiles like crocodiles and gharials, water snakes and turtles. There are over 940 different species of fishes in India.
- In order to preserve world’s biodiversity and our natural heritage, fourteen biosphere reserves have been set up in the country.
- Four have been included in the world network of biosphere reserves. They are the Sunderbans in West Bengal, the Nanda Devi in Uttarakhand, the Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu and the Nilgiris spanning across Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- The government also provides financial and technical support to many of the Botanical Gardens, since 1992. To protect wildlife, the Government of India has introduced Project Tiger, Project Rhino and Project Great Indian Bustard.
- In addition, there are 89 national parks, and 490 wildlife sanctuaries and zoological gardens in India to take care of our flora and fauna. As per IUCN specifications, the species of flora and fauna can be classified as normal, extinct, endangered, vulnerable, rare or endemic.
- BIOSPHERE RESERVES
|01.||Nilgiris (1986)||It lies at the trijunction of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala|
|02.||Nanda Devi (1988)||Uttarakhand|
|04.||The Great Nicobar (1989)||Lies in the Bay of Bengal|
|05.||Gulf of Mannar (1989)||Tamil Nadu|
|07.||Sunderbans (1989)||West Bengal|
|12.||Agasthyamalai (2001)||Across (Kerala and Tamil Nadu)|
|14.||Achanakmar– Amarkantak (2012)||Across (M. P. and Chhattisgarh)|
- WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES
|State||Wildlife sanctuary||Bird Sanctuary||National Park|
|Bharatpur (Siberian birds)|
|Jammu and Kashmir||(Kashmir stag)||Dachigam (Bear)|
|Uttar Pradesh||Chandra Prabha (elephant)|
|Madhya Pradesh||Kanha Kisli (deer, elephant)|
|Maharashtra||Taroba (Indian Bison)|
(Page No. 43)
Question.1. Find out why are the southern slopes in Himalayan region covered with thick vegetation cover as compared to northern slopes of the same hills.
Answer. The northern slopes of the hills in Himalayan region are at high altitude and have low temperature or are snow covered. This does not allow much vegetation. In the southern part of the hills there are plains and valleys watered by rivers and with fertile soil and pleasant temperature levels all required for dense growth of vegetation.
(Page No. 43)
Question.1. Find out why have the western slopes of the Western Ghats covered with thick forests and not the eastern slopes.
Answer. The westward facing slopes receive much more rain than the eastward facing slopes and the Western Ghats are considerably wetter than the dry Deccan to the east.
(Page No. 43)
Question. Study the bar graph (Figure 5.1) and answer the following questions.
(i) Name the state having maximum area under forest cover.
(ii) Name the union territory having minimum area under forest cover and why?
Answer. Daman & Diu has the minimum area under forest cover because its area is small that is only 102 sq km. So, it is not possible to expand forest area there.
Study the Map
(Page No. 45)
Question. Study the given map for the forest cover and try to find the reasons as to why certain states have more forest area as compared to others?Answer.
- Land affects the natural vegetation directly and indirectly. The nature of land influences the type of vegetation.
- The soils also vary over space. Different types of soils provide basis for different types of vegetation.
- The character and extent of vegetation are mainly determined by temperature along with humidity in the air, precipitation and soil.
- The variation in duration of sunlight at different places is due to differences in latitude, altitude, season and duration of the day. Due to longer duration of sunlight, trees grow faster in summer.
- Areas of heavy rainfall have more dense vegetation as compared to areas of less rainfall.
Let Us Discuss
(Page No. 47)
Question. What will happen if plants and animals disappear from the earth’s surface? Can the human beings survive under such a situation? Why is biodiversity necessary and why should it be conserved?
Answer. If the plants and animals disappear from the Earth’s surface, then the ecological balance will be disturbed. These animal and plant species, including humans, are all interdependent. Each species has its own place and role to play in the environment and help in the maintaining the ecological balance. Biodiversity provides our food, cleans our water , provides medicines for curing illness, and even creates the oxygen that we breathe . So, biodiversity is crucial for enabling us to survive and stay healthy. If we reduce the amount of biodiversity there is, by driving many species to extinction, then we cannot expect that nature will be able to keep providing these things for us.
(Page No. 48)
Answer. These forests are Montane forests and found in the higher hilly areas of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, also in the region of Eastern Himalayas to the east of 88°E longitude including the hills of Assam, West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
(Page No. 50)
(i) Find out from the above newspaper cuttings, the main concern highlighted in the given news items.
Answer. The main concern highlighted in the given news items is killing of animals and actions to protect them.
(ii) Collect more information about various endangered species from newspapers and magazines.
Answer. various endangered species are:
- Asiatic Lion
- Bengal Tiger
- Snow Leopard
- Nilgiri Tahr
- Kashmiri Red Stag
- One- horned rhinoceros
(iii) Find out various steps taken by the Indian government to protect them.
- In the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, GOI created Protected Areas like National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves for the wildlife and imposed punishments on those indulged in illegal act of hunting.
- One of the most successful wildlife conservation ventures ‘Project Tiger’ which was initiated way back in 1972, has not only contributed to the conservation of tigers but also of the entire ecosystem.
- Initiated in 1992 by the Government of India Project Elephant aims at conserving elephants and their habitat and of migratory routes by developing scientific and planned management measures.
- Another successful venture by Government of India to conserve the Indian Crocodiles, whose species were on the verge of extinction once. The project also contributes towards the conservation in a plethora of related fields. The main objectives of the crocodile project are to protect the remaining population of crocodiles and their natural habitat by establishing sanctuaries; to promote captive breeding; to improve management; and to involve the local people in the project intimately.
- With an objective to conserve the Olive Ridley Turtles, the UNDP Sea Turtle Project was initiated by Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun as the Implementing Agency in November 1999. The project is for 10 coastal states in India especially Odisha where it has contributed towards the preparation of a map of breeding sites of Sea Turtles; identification of breeding places and habitats along the coast line, and migratory routes taken by Sea Turtles.
(iv) Describe how you can contribute to the protection of endangered animals and birds.
- Learn about endangered species in your area. Teach your friends and family about the wonderful wildlife, birds, fish and plants that live near you.
- Visit a national wildlife refuge, park or other open space. These protected lands provide habitat to many native wildlife, birds, fish and plants.
- Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species.
- The best way to protect endangered species is to protect the special places where they live. Wildlife must have places to find food, shelter and raise their young. Logging, oil and gas drilling, over-grazing and development all result habitat destruction.
Question.1. Choose the right answer from the four alternatives given below :
(i) To which one of the following types of vegetation does rubber belong to?
(d) Tropical Evergreen
Ans. (d) Tropical Evergreen
(ii) Cinchona trees are found in the areas of rainfall more than :
(a) 100 cm
(b) 70 cm
(c) 50 cm
(d) Less than 50 cm
Ans. (a) more than 100 cm
(iii) In which of the following states is the Simplipal bioreserve located?
(d) West Bengal
Ans. (c) Orissa
(iv) Which one of the following bio-reserves of India is not included in the world network of bioreserve?
(b) Gulf of Mannar
(d) Nanda Devi
Ans. (a) Manas
Question.2. Answer the following questions briefly.
(i) Define an ecosystem.
Ans. An ecosystem comprises plants and animals existing interdependently and inter-related to each other in their physical environment.
(ii) What factors are responsible for the distribution of plants and animals in India?
Ans. The distribution of plant and animal life in India is determined by the following :
(a) Temperature along with humidity in the air, precipitation and the nature of the soil.
(b) Variation in sunlight due to variations in latitude, height above sea level, season and duration of the day in any specific region.
(c) Amount of rainfall.
(d) Soil conditions
(e) Relief — mountains, plateaus or plains.
(iii) What is a bio-reserve? Give two examples. OR
What is a biosphere reserve? What is their importance?
- Bio-reserves are intended to protect and conserve the diverse flora and fauna found within the country. In these reserves every plant and animal species is protected in its natural form.
- The first bio-reserve came up at the trijunction of the state of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in 1986.
- Two years later another bioreserve was set up at Nanda Devi.
(iv) Name two animals having habitat in different types of vegetation.
|Type of vegetation||Plants||Animals|
|Tropical Rainforests||Rosewood, Ebony||Elephants, Monkeys|
|Tropical Deciduous Forests||Teak, Sal||Lion, Tiger|
|Thorn Forests||Palms, Acacia||Rats, Rabbits|
|Temperate Forests||Oak, Chestnut||Yak, Wild sheep|
|Alpine and Tundra Vegetation||Pines, Silver fir||Snow Leopard, Yak|
Question.3. Distinguish between:
(i) Flora and Fauna
(ii) Tropical Evergreen and Deciduous Forests
Ans. (i) Fauna refers to species of animals found in an region. Flora denotes plants of a particular region.
(ii) Tropical evergreen forests abound in areas with rainfall exceeding 200 cm in a year. Trees reach heights up to 60 m in these forests. The vegetation is luxuriant. There is no definite time for the trees to shed leaves. A large number of species exist together in such forests.
Important trees are ebony, mahogany, rosewood, rubber and cinchona. Deciduous forests are spread over the region where the rainfall ranges between 70-200 cm annually. In dry summer, the trees shed their leaves for six to eight weeks. Commercially important wood is found in these forests. Important trees are teak, sal, shisham. etc.
Question.4. Name different types of vegetation found in India and describe the vegetation of high altitudes.
Ans. The different types of vegetation found in India are:
- Tropical rainforests, Tropical Deciduous forests, Thorn forests, Temperate forests, Alpine and Tundra vegetation.
- Alpine vegetation is found at places over 3,600 m in height. The trees common to these are silver fir, junipers, pines and birches.
- The trees get stunted as they reach the snow line. There are shrubs and scrubs that ultimately merge into Alpine grasslands. Tundra vegetation is limited to lichens and mosses.
Question.5. Quite a few species of plants and animals are endangered. Why?
Ans. The main reason for extinction of certain species of plants is excessive commercialization.
Plant species are endangered as more lands are being cleared for factories, housing colonies and roads. Pollution of air, water and soil adds to the danger to natural vegetation. Animal species are getting extinct due to hunting and poaching. Commercial exploitation of forestlands has also reduced space for animal habitats.
Question.6. Why has India a rich heritage of flora and fauna?
Ans. India has a rich heritage of fauna and flora as geographically the country has a very wide range of physical, climatic and soil conditions. Our tradition of respecting all forms of life has also contributed to the preservation of plant and animal species over the centuries.
Question.1. On 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 parts of the country