Forest and Wildlife

Introduction

We are surrounded by millions of microorganisms, bacteria, plants, and animals. Each habitat has different species, so we live in immense biodiversity. We made a complex ecology with the environment. We are very much dependent on the forest.


Why Forest is important? 

The plant’s animals and microorganisms re-create the quality of the air, water, and soil. So, the forest and microorganisms are most important to us. Forest is the primary or only source of food for animals.


What is Biodiversity or Biological Diversity?

Biodiversity is immensely rich in wildlife and cultivated species, diverse in form and function but closely integrated into a system through multiple networks of interdependencies.


Flora and Fauna in India

Flora – Plants; Fauna – Animals

  • India is the world’s richest country in terms of its biological diversity.
  • 10% of Flora and 20% of Fauna are on the threatened list.
  • Some are categories in the critical list
    • Cheetah (animal)
    • Pink-headed duck (animal)
    • Mountain quails (animal)
    • Forest spotted owlet (animal)
    • Mahua (Plant)
    • Hubbardia Heptaneuron (a type of grass)
  • We can’t say how many species already we lost. People only think about larger plants and animals but do not think about smaller animals and plants.  

Account of Vanishing Forest in India

The forest and trees cover an estimated 79.42 million hectares, on24.16 percent of the total geographical area.

  • Dense forest 12.2 percent; (all the land covered with Tree)
  • Open forest 9.14 percent; (moderately tall trees and a reasonably open canopy)
  • Mangrove 0.14 percent). (Wetlands forest where freshwater and saltwater intermix.)

List of different categories of plants and animal species.

According to IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Normal SpeciesSpecies whose population levels are considered to be normal for their survival. CattleSalpine rodents
Endangered SpeciesThese are species that are in danger of extinction. The survival of such species is difficult if the negative factors that have led to a decline in their population continue to operate. black buck crocodileIndian wild ass, Indian rhino lion-tailed macaquesangai (brow anter deer in Manipur)
Vulnerable SpeciesThese are species whose population has declined to levels from where it is likely to move into the endangered category in the near future if the negative factors continue to operate. blue sheepAsiatic elephantGangetic dolphin
Rare SpeciesSpecies with a small population may move into the endangered or vulnerable category if the negative factors affecting them continue to operate. Himalayan brown bearwild Asiatic buffalodesert fox hornbill
Endemic SpeciesThese are species that are only found in some particular areas usually isolated by natural or geographical barriers. Andaman tealNicobar pigeonAndaman wild pigmithun in Arunachal Pradesh
Extinct SpeciesThese are species that 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. Asiatic cheetahpink head duck

What are the negative factors that cause depletion of the flora and fauna?

  • We are obtaining resources directly and indirectly from the forests and wildlife – wood, barks, leaves, rubber, medicines, dyes, food, fuel, fodder, manure, etc.
  • We ourselves depleted our forests and wildlife.
  • The greatest damage inflicted on Indian forests was during the colonial period due to the expansion of the railways, agriculture, commercial and scientific forestry, and mining activities.
  • Even after Independence, agricultural expansion continues to be one of the major causes of depletion of forest resources.
  • Between 1951 and 1980, according to the Forest Survey of India, over 26,200 sq. km. of forest area was converted into agricultural land all over India.
  • Substantial parts of the tribal belts, especially in north-eastern and central India, have been deforested or degraded by shifting cultivation (jhum), a type of ‘slash and burn agriculture.
  • Large-scale development projects have also contributed significantly to the loss of forests.
  • Since 1951, over 5,000 sq km of forest was cleared for river valley projects.
  • Clearing of forests is still continuing with projects like the Narmada Sagar Project in Madhya Pradesh, which would inundate 40,000 hectares of forest.
  • Mining is another important factor behind deforestation.
  • The Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal is seriously threatened by the ongoing dolomite mining.
  • It has disturbed the natural habitat of many species and blocked the migration route of several others, including the great Indian elephant.
  • Grazing and fuel-wood collection are the greatest degrading factors behind the depletion of forest resources.
  • Habitat destruction, hunting, poaching, over-exploitation, environmental pollution, poisoning, and forest fires are factors, which have led to the decline in India’s biodiversity.
  • Other important causes of environmental destruction are unequal access, inequitable consumption of resources and differential sharing of responsibility for environmental well-being.
  • Over-population is the cause of environmental degradation. However, an average American consumes 40 times more resources than an average Somalian.
  • Similarly, the richest five percent of Indian society probably cause more ecological damage because of the amount they consume than the poorest 25 percent.
  • The former shares minimum responsibilities for environmental well-being.
  • The forest ecosystems are repositories of some of the country’s most valuable forest products, minerals and other resources that meet the demands of the rapidly expanding industrial-urban economy.
  • These protected areas, thus mean different things to different people, and therein lies the fertile ground for conflicts.
Did you know box?
Over half of India’s natural forests are gone. one-third of its wetlands drained out.70 percent of its surface water bodies are polluted.40 percent of its mangroves were wiped out, With continued hunting and trade of wild animals and commercially valuable plants, thousands of plant and animal species are heading towards extinction?

Effects of depletion of the flora and fauna in India.

  • The destruction of forests and wildlife is a biological loss that is strongly correlated with the loss of cultural diversity.
  • Such losses have increasingly marginalised and impoverished many indigenous and other forest-dependent communities, who directly depend on various components of the forest and wildlife for food, drink, medicine, culture, spirituality, etc.
  • The poor, women are affected more than men. In many societies, women bear the major responsibility of collecting fuel, fodder, water, and other basic subsistence needs.
  • As these resources are depleted, the drudgery (hard work) of women increases, and sometimes they have to walk for more than 10 km to collect these resources. This causes serious health problems for women and negligence of home and children because of the increased hours of work, which often has serious social implications.
  • The indirect impact of degradation such as severe drought or deforestation-induced floods, etc. also hits the poor the hardest.
  • Poverty in these cases is a direct outcome of environmental destruction.
  • Therefore, forests, and wildlife are vital to the quality of life and environment in the subcontinent. It is imperative to adapt to sound forest and wildlife conservation strategies.

Conservation of Forest and Wildlife in India

  • Conservation in the background of rapid decline in wildlife population and forestry has become essential.
  • 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.
  • For example, in agriculture, we are still dependent on traditional crop varieties.
  • Fisheries too are heavily dependent on the maintenance of aquatic biodiversity.
  • In the 1960s and 1970s, conservationists demanded a national wildlife protection program. \
  • The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act was implemented in 1972, with various provisions for protecting habitats.
  • The program was towards protecting the remaining population of certain endangered species by banning hunting, giving legal protection to their habitats, and restricting trade in wildlife.
  • Subsequently, central and many state governments established national parks and wildlife sanctuaries about which you have already studied.
  • The central government also announced several projects for protecting specific animals, which were gravely threatened, including the tiger, the one-horned rhinoceros, the Kashmir stag or hangul, three types of crocodiles – freshwater crocodile, saltwater crocodile and the Gharial, the Asiatic lion, and others.
  • Most recently, the Indian elephant, black buck (chinkara), the great Indian bustard (godawan) and the snow leopard, etc. have been given full or partial legal protection against hunting and trade throughout India.
  • Under the Wildlife Act of 1980 and 1986, several hundred butterflies, moths, beetles, and one dragonfly have been added to the list of protected species.
  • In 1991, for the first-time plants were also added to the list, starting with six species.

Community and Conservation

  • In Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, villagers have fought against mining by citing the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • The inhabitants of five villages in the Alwar district of Rajasthan have declared 1,200 hectares of forest as the Bhairodev Dakav ‘Sonchuri’, declaring their own set of rules and regulations which do not allow hunting, and are protecting the wildlife against any outside encroachments.
  • 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.
  • In India joint forest management (JFM) programme furnishes a good example for involving local communities in the management and restoration of degraded forests.
  • The programme has been in formal existence since 1988 when the state of Odisha passed the first resolution for joint forest management.
  • JFM depends on the formation of local (village) institutions that undertake protection activities mostly on degraded forest land managed by the forest department. In return, the members of these communities are entitled to intermediary benefits like non-timber forest produces and share in the timber harvested by ‘successful protection’.

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 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.

Reserved ForestsMore than half of the total forest land has been declared reserved forests. Reserved forests are regarded as the most valuable as far as the conservation of forest and wildlife resources is concerned.   Area – Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Maharashtra.
Protected ForestsAlmost one-third of the total forest area is protected forest, as declared by the Forest Department. This forest land is protected from any further depletion.   Area – Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Rajasthan.
Unclassed ForestsThese are other forests and wastelands belonging to both government and private individuals and communities.   Area – All North-eastern states and parts of Gujarat have a very high percentage of their forests as unclassed forests managed by local communities.
“The tree is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence and makes no demand for its sustenance, and extends generously the products of its life activity. It affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axemen who destroy it”. Gautama Buddha (487 B.C.)

Make a detailed analysis on the following topics.

  1. Chipko Movement
  2. Beej Bachao Andolan
  3. Project Tiger
  4. The Himalayan Yew
  5. Asiatic Cheetah
  6. Sacred groves

Short Questions

  1. Which chemical compound is used to treat cancer?
  2. In which state Narmada River valley project situated?
  3. In which state Buxa Tiger Reserve is located?
  4. IUCN stands for?
  5. Name two animals of Rare Species?
  6. __________ play a key role in the ecological system.
  7. Who re-creates the quality of the air, water, and soil?
  8. Which plant plantations in the Himalayas have replaced the Himalayan oak?
  9. The biological loss is strongly correlated with the loss of _____________ diversity.
  10. Name the animals which were added under the Wildlife Act of 1980 and 1986.







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