After reading this essay you will learn about Forests:- 1. Importance of Forests 2. Classification of Forests 3. Major Products 4. Minor Products.
Essay # Importance of Forests:
Economic Importance of Forest :
In the modern world, forests have an important place in the general economy of any country. The significance and usefulness of forests date back to those days when man learnt the merits of a settled life. He would use wood for fuel, as well as thatching and making huts; wild fruits and leaves would be consumed as food, and tree barks would be used as clothing. The forests were also hunting grounds and a retreat from enemy attacks.
Forest serve people in many tangible ways. They are an inexhaustible reserve and provide man and industries with numerous raw materials. No wonder forests have been termed as “Green Gold”. Forests constitute a perennial economy, unlike minerals that, once mined, cannot be renewed.
Ecological Importance of Forests:
A forest is in constant interaction with its environment. The most significant environmental factors are micro climate, soil characteristics, availability of moisture and biological activities.
The forest are not only valued for the direct benefits of forest produce, but also for the indirect benefits.
The ecological importance of forests has been listed here:
(1) Forest helps in ameliorating climatic extremes:
Trees shield the ground from direct exposure to the sun. Therefore, the temperature underneath the trees is lower and the ground cooler. During the day, the leaves utilise sunlight for photosynthesis. Heat is mainly given out at night during respiration. As a result, temperature on the forest floor remains low during the day and higher during the dark hours of night. This reduces loss of water due to evaporation.
(2) Forest tends to increase the rainfall of a locality:
Extensive forests condense low clouds. To some extent, this increases precipitation. Therefore, afforestation measures are taken to improve arid regions.
(3) Forest stems wind-velocity:
Strong winds cause serious soil erosion if the soil is dry and devoid of vegetation. Therefore wind-breaks and shelter belts are planted to protect crops.
(4) Forest cover checks run-off from the surface and thus reduces soil erosion:
Forests guard the soil by putting up a wall of operation to combat the initial forces of erosion. This is done at three levels, canopy, ground and underground levels:
(i) The canopy, which is often so thick that it reduces the forceful impact caused by raindrops.
(ii) At the ground-level, there is a dense mat of leaf-litter and other vegetable matter. This obstructs the surface flow and checks the velocity of run-off.
(iii) At the underground level, the litter and humus forms an organic blanket. This blanket performs the function of a sieve. The water slowly filters downward through it and then to the underlying soil layer. The numerous root hairs hold capillary and hygroscopic water around them.
Except for a layer of concrete, nothing else will hold the soil as firmly on a sloping surface, as a cover of trees.
Essay # Classification of Forests:
At a global scale, forests can be classified and spatially delimited, taking into account one or a combination of three attributes:
(1) Environmental condition, particularly climate, basing on which tropical, temperate and cold forest zones have been delimited;
(2) The form of the Dominant Trees, which is determined by the shape, size, duration and durability of leaves, whether broad, narrow or needle; large or small, divided or undivided; hardness of cuticle (sclerophylly or mesophyll); evergreen, deciduous or mixed.
(3) The Composition, basing on the dominance or co-dominance of plant taxonomic groups; flowing (angiosperm) or coniferous (gymnosperm), family and/or genus and species.
Essay # Major Products of Forest:
Forest provides us with both hard woods and soft woods. Tropical hard woods include sal, teak, ebony, greenheart, mahogany, ironwood, logwood, semul, sissoo etc. Soft woods include pine, blue pine, fir, spruce, cedar, poplar etc.
There are various industries that are solely dependent on timber. Saw mills, hardboard factories, chip board factories, plywood factories, match industry, window, door and furniture-making industries are a few of them. Timber is also used to make packing boxes, sports goods, wooden toys, railway sleepers etc.
(2) Paper Pulp:
90% of the world’s paper is manufactured from the soft wood pulp obtained from coniferous trees. Due to this reason paper industries dominate in USA, Canada, Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland, which account for the greatest concentration of coniferous forests.
The cellulose obtained from soft woods is used to manufacture synthetic fibre or rayon. The wood from spruce trees yields finest quality rayon.
(4) Fuel Wood, Fine-wood and Charcoal:
Forest provides fuel-wood to millions, especially in developing countries, for cooking and heating.
Fine-wood is also obtained from forests. However, in doing so, forests are last being depleted.
Essay # Minor Products of Forest:
Not only wood, forests provide us with a number of minor products that are as essential to the industries. In India, these minor products are used to manufacture valuable articles for export.
(1) Resin is obtained mainly from pine trees. This is used to make turpentine, which is mainly used as a solvent for paints and varnish.
White resin is used in manufacturing paper, oils and greases, adhesive tape, laundry soap, linoleum, printing ink etc.
(2) Lac is secreted by a particular type of insects (Laccifer Lacca). These insects feed on the saps of host trees, such as kul, sissoo, peepal, palash etc.
Lac is widely used for making paints, bangles, fireworks, sealing wax, electrical insulation material, spirit laguns etc.
(3) Gums are extracted from the stems of different trees. They are used in confectionery, medicine, and in the manufacture of pastes, ink and coloured crayons.
(4) Tanning materials are also a gift of the forests. They are essential raw material in leather industry. Tanning materials are used to coagulate the protein in hides and skins in order to produce resistant leather.
(5) Bamboo is called the poor man’s timber. It is used for construction, for making pulp and producing paper and newsprint, and the young bamboo shoots are eaten as a food item.
(6) Cane grows in abundance in most forests. They are used mainly for making ropes, bags, strings etc.