WHAT ARE FORESTS?
Forests are defined as the land masses which are highly covered with the trees. These are the natural ecosystem of the earth which helps in sustaining the wildlife and biosphere. Forests are also acting as the habitats for various life forms of earth. These cover approximately 9% of earth area which is 50% of land area. These are found in both the high and low altitudes of earth. These are distributed throughout the earth from the highland mountainous regions to the lowland marshy areas and from the arid desert regions to the humid coastal areas. In simple words, forests can be understood as the large masses of wood on the earth. These provide home to the different rare species which can sustain all their living activities in forests. About 30 % of world’s population depends fully or partially on forests & forests provide them with all the basic needs of food, fuel & shelter. Forests are also known as the very complex systems & constantly changing environments which consist of different ecosystems & wildlife forms. Forests are the places which are home to many different ecosystems such as lakes, rivers, ponds, wildlife, vegetation etc.
IMPORTANCE OF FORESTS
Forests are of much importance as they serve many purposes of all the different life forms on earth such as:
- They are helpful in controlling the air pollution as they oxidise the air & absorbs the carbon dioxide.
- Forests are also a means of bringing rainfall to the earth by forcing the clouds to give rain by developing high-pressure zones above the clouds.
- Forests also provide the different things for fulfilling the human needs i.e. food, shelter, fuel & clothes.
- Forests also helpful in controlling the problem of global; warming by decreasing the ratio of the concentration of greenhouse gases by absorbing them & thus, helps in reducing the greenhouse effect.
- Forests also help in controlling the problems of soil erosion due to runoff & other erosion agents of water for example rainfall etc. by covering the open soil with vegetation & trees whose roots bind the soil & do not let it erode with water.
- Forests also help in natural soil formation by adding organic matter contents & by allowing the other soil forming processes to occur in a natural manner.
- Forests also provide a home to many ecosystems & wildlife so that they can live there & develop in a positive manner.
- Most of the unknown species of animals & plants are still found in the forests which do not exist in cities.
- Forests provide timber wood for performing the home building operations to the human beings & provide an opportunity for good development by giving protection from aberrant weather conditions.
- Forests are also a means of recharging the earth ground water table by allowing the infiltration or seepage of water by the entry of water in the lower layers of the earth through root zone of plants.
TYPES OF FORESTS IN WORLD
Mainly forests are classified on the basis of the climate prevailing in the region & the distance of the place from equator i.e. latitude or altitude of the place. This main classification is given by the WWF i.e. World Wildlife Fund & is discussed in detail below:
- Tropical forests: These are the forests which are classified due to their nearness to the equator & due to this they have high temperature throughout the year, receive high rainfall & characterised with a dense canopy of vegetation. These are located on the equator & between the Tropic of Cancer & Capricorn. These are found in the Amazon Basin in North America, Congo Basin in Africa & Indonesia, Malaysia, tropical forests of Queensland in Australia, Eastern Deccan Plateau forests of India, Western Ghats Forests of India etc. These forests are great hotspots of biodiversity. These receive rainfall of more than 200 cm which is very heavy.
- Subtropical rainforests: These are the forests which receive the year-round rainfall & also hotspots of biodiversity. These are found in the North & South areas of tropical forests. These contain many layers of vegetation. Mostly deciduous vegetation is found in these forests. These are found in the areas of Madagascar, Indonesia, central India, Indo-China, central Brazil, Caribbean & along the coasts of Ecuador & Peru.
- Mediterranean Forests: These forests are the evergreen forests containing hardwood trees. These are distributed in the Mediterranean belt along the California, Chile & western coast of Australia. The growing season of vegetation is short in these areas.
- Temperate Forests: these are forests of cold areas & contain the vegetation of deciduous & evergreen nature. These forests receive a well-defined winter season with the good amount of rainfall. These are distributed in Russia, European countries, northern parts of America, North-East Asia, central China etc.
- Coniferous forests: These are the forests which are found near the poles where the temperature is cold & the wind blows at a fast rate. These contain vegetation of both the deciduous & hardwood nature. These are confined mainly to the areas of countries like Japan, New-Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, & near black sea areas.
- Montane forests: These are the forests which are found in tropical & subtropical montanes & grasslands containing trees of conifers. These receive their rainfall in the form of fog or mist or dew which fulfils the need of moisture. These are also known as cloud forests.
TYPES OF FORESTS IN INDIA
Forests cover 19.26% of total area of India which should be minimum 33% of the total geographic area as stated by the WWF for Nature. The forests of India are of variety due to a great rate of climate & temperature which occurs over the Indian –Subcontinent. Indian forests can be divided into the following categories according to seasons & climatic conditions of the area:
- Moist tropical forests: These are forest areas which prevail in the Western coast, upper hills of Assam & north-eastern states & coast of Orissa. These forests develop into a temperature of near 25 degrees Celcius & receive a good amount of rainfall ranging from 250 to 300 cm. these also have high humidity conditions i.e. more than 80 %. Mainly these contain bamboo, rosewood, email & different epiphytotic plant vegetations.
- Dry tropical forests: These forests predominantly found in the areas of North hilly regions & Southern hill ranges. These forests contain mostly deciduous vegetation which becomes green in rainy season. These forests receive an annual average rainfall of 100 cm.
- Montane temperate forests: these forests are found in the regions of Nilgiri hills of South India & Northern Himalayan ranges. These receive a good amount of rainfall i.e. 200 cm & contain the forests of juniper, oak, ferns, deodar etc.
- Montane subtropical forests: These forests are developed in subtropical conditions of eastern India & contain trees of olive, sal etc. These receive high amounts of rainfall.
- Alpine forests: These forests are found mainly in Tarai Himalayan ranges where the snow covers the vegetation for most of the year & long range grasslands are found in these forests which are grazed by cattle in summer.
- Subalpine forests: Forests of the cold Himalayan areas of J&K, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh etc. come under subalpine forests.
WHY IS CONSERVATION OF FORESTS IMPORTANT FOR US?
Forest conservation is important for us as because the whole world is facing the many problems which are generated due to the depletion of forests such as global warming, deforestation, climate change, change in monsoon patterns, increase in concentration of carbon dioxide, soil erosion, cloudbursts, landslides, air pollution, floods in rivers, droughts or formation of new deserts etc. All these problems arise due to the large scale depletion of forest masses by humans for fulfilling their needs of fuel & land. But they underestimate the various conservational roles of forests which do not have any replacement. So the conservation of forests should be done;
- To solve the increasing problem of pollution in the atmosphere as forests consume carbon dioxide by absorbing it & leaves oxygen.
- To solve the problem of increasing temperature of earth or global warming by absorbing the greenhouse gases & do not allow them to trap long wave infrared radiations which cause warming of the earth.
- To solve the problem of soil erosion by water forces which dominate in the absence of vegetation on the hill slopes & mountain ranges.
- To reduce the problem of cloud bursts & landslides over the mountainous regions as forests do not allow building up of large or small pressure ranges which permit the clouds to burst & cause a huge amount of rainfall in small time over a small area.
- Replantation or development of forests also cures the problem of floods in rivers & formation of new deserts due to shortage of water & moisture.
- Forests are also a home of a number of wildlife species & vegetation which will become depleted & get extinct without the forests.