Flora (forests) and fauna(animals) are one of the renewable resources of our country. In ancient times the country was famous for its dense and continuous forests like Dandakaranya, panchavati, Naimishyaranya etc. But with the advance of civilization through ages, most part these forests are gone now. Only 22 % of the total land of the country is covered with forests now. The flora of India is diverse. It is estimated that our country possesses 45,000 different species of plants. This is the widest range of diverse plants found in any country in the world. Nearly 5000 species are found exclusively in India. We can subdivide the forests of India into five classes. They are: 1.Tropical Rain Forests (Ever green forests) 2.Tropical Deciduous Forests 3.Thorn and Scrub Forests 4.Tidal Forests (Mangrove Forests) and 5. Mountain Forests 1.Tropical Rainforests (Ever Green Forests): These forests grow in areas having a rainfall of more than 200 cms. These are found in the mountain ranges of Northeastern India, in the western slopes of the Western Ghats, along the foot-hills of the Himalayas and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The trees of these forests don’t shed their leaves in any season of the year. They always looks green. So they are called ‘Evergreen Forests’. Trees like Ablus, Mahogany, ebony, rosewood, sisham (Dalbergia Sissoo), Sandalwood (Santalum album) grow in these forests. The trees are tall and form a dense canopy overhead. Trees of these forests reaches up to a height of 60 meters or even more. 2. Tropical Deciduous Forests: Deciduous forests are called Monsoon Forests. This is because they form the natural cover almost all over India particularly between regions of 200 and 75 cms of rainfall. This forestcover accounts for more than half of the total forest area of India. They are very Important from economic point of view. They are subdivided into two parts: Moist Deciduous Forest Dry Deciduous Forests. They are called ‘deciduous forests’ because the trees of these forests shed their leaves in the dry season of the year. Trees like Teak (Tectona gradis), Sal(Shorea rabusta), Sandalwood (Santalum album), Shisham (Dalbergia sissoo), Hurra (Terminalia chebula), Khair(Acacia catechu), Bamboo and Cane grow in these forests. These forests are confined to north-eastern India, eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, the Eastern Ghats, Chhotnagpur Plateau, Orissa, Chhatisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Dry deciduous forests cover vast areas of the country where the rainfall is between 70 to 100cms.They have a parkland landscape in northern India with open formation specially of teak and several other tree species with stretches of open grass. They cover mostly the hills of east Rajasthan, Western Madhya Pradesh and parts of central Deccan Plateau. 3. THE THORN AND SCRUB FORESTS: These are confined to areas with a rainfall of less than 75cms. It spreads over north-western part of the country from Saurashtra in the south to Punjab plains in the north.It is found in parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and also in parts of south India. Kikar, babul, khair, acacia, munj and sawai grass are found in these forests. These forest areas are being converted into residential areas due to population pressure. Thorn and cactus are found in western Punjab and western Rajasthan where the rainfall is less than 50 cms. 4. TIDAL FORESTS: The tidal areas along the coast of India particularly the lowlands and river-mouths of the eastern coast is covered with mangrove forests. Mangrove trees can survive both in fresh and saline water- the major characteristic of the tidal areas. Sundari is a well-known mangrove tree. It is after the name of this tree that the name sundarban has been given to the vast tidal mangrove forests of the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta in West Bengal. Due to the abundance of Hental trees, the mangrove forests of the Mahanadi-Brahmani mouth are called ‘Hentalban’. It is also called ‘The Little Sundarbans’. 5. MOUNTAIN FORESTS (ALTITUDINAL ZONES OF VEGETATION IN MOUNTAINOUS REGIONS OF INDIA): Altitude is an important factor in the distribution of vegetation in the mountainous regions because of the decrease of temperature with the increase of altitude. The Himalayas are covered with all types of vegetation starting with tropical rain forests in the foothills to tundra vegetation on the peaks. Due to the hot and humid climate, siwaliks, the foothills of the Himalayas are covered with tropical rain forests and moist deciduous flora. Sal is the most important and dominant species. It is then succeeded by wet hill forest between 1000 and 2000 meters. Evergreen broad leave oaks, chestnuts and apple trees are common trees in these altitudes. Further up between 1600 and 3300 meters above sea level, pine, cedar, spruce and silver fir are found which are some of the most important species in these altitudes. These forests are the coniferous forests of the temperate regions of the world found in these altitudes of the Himalayas. Temperate coniferous forests is succeeded by Alpine Forests which is found generally at altitudes between 2750 to 3600 meters above sea level. These forests are covered with species like silver firs, pines, birches and junipers. Above 3600 meters above sea level, Alpine Forests give way to Alpine Grasslands. The peaks of the Himalayas are covered with perpetual snow. The forest cover of India is receding at an alarming rate due to developmental activities and large scale felling of trees by the timber mafia. This has created a number of environmental problems leading to frequent flood and draught over the decades of the last century. Hence appropriate measures should be taken for the protection of this valuable wealth of India.
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