After reading this article you will learn about the importance and types of forest resources.
Types of Forest Resources in India:
Because of unique geographical locations and climatic diversities, the forest types of India are highly variable. A total of fourteen major classes of forest are found in diverse region of the Indian territories.
There are as follows:
1. Tropical dry deciduous forest
2. Tropical moist deciduous forest
3. Tropical evergreen forest
4. Tropical semi evergreen forest
5. Tropical rainforest
6. Subtropical forest
7. Temperate broad leaved forest
8. Temperate conifer forest
9. Subalpine forest
10. Alpine forest
11. Desert thorny forest
12. Coastal sand dune forest
13. Estuarine evergreen forest
All these forest types are further subdivided to subclass/association for further characterisation. At present, a little over 21 per cent of India’s land area is classified as forest. India has about 64 million hectare of forest cover (of which 59% forest is dense, 40% is open and 1% is coastal mangrove) [FAO, 2005].
It is further repeated that 65 per cent of the India’s forest wealth is administered solely by the government; another 27 per cent reserved for community and indigenous groups, (through joint forest management) and remaining 8 per cent of forest land is managed by private individuals on farms.
The average stocking level of forest in India is 74 cubic meter per hectare much lower than 113 cubic meter per hectare in other developing countries.
The pressure on India’s forest come from a variety of sources, including—the increase in population, from 390 million in 1950 to 1 billion in 2001, the loss of the 4.5 million hectares forest area since 1950 through agricultural conversion and other uses, the high percentage (78%) of forest subject to heavy grazing, exposure of half of all forests to risk from fires, shifting cultivation affect over 10 million hectares and encroaching of forest area by environmental victims/refuges. The demand of timber and fuel-wood has increased tremendously over past couple of decades and thus pressure of wealth cover is extremely high.
In spite of such constrains, during 1990-2000, India is the only country in south Asia with a positive increase in forest cover of 38,000 hectares.
Deforestation is global concern, over 60% of the original natural forest has been cleared and the remaining forest is threatened by logging, mining and other large scale development projects. The rate of deforestation in tropics is extremely high. Being a tropical country with high population growth, India showed massive deforestation.
During past 50 years more than 40% forest cover has been lost during this period. This kind of deforestation is connected with severe loss of biodiversity. It is estimated that the active ingredients for 25% of the world’s prescriptive drugs are substances derived from plants, most of which grow in tropical forests and the estimated value of such commercial drugs is around $100 billion per year.
A large population of tribals all over the world are forest dependent. In many countries they are deprived of forest wealth due to eviction from the native areas as a consequence of various developmental projects viz., multipurpose dam, industrial development, urbanisation and so on.
In India, Narmada dam project alone caused the displacement of over 86,000 people. Mining in forest cover hill tracts also causes the displacement of fairly a good numbers of village settlement in different states of India.
The devastating effects of deforestation in India leads to soil loss, water deficit, forest loss, biodiversity loss and associated local climate changes. These events leads to immense expenditure for management. The degradation cost of India is estimated to be around 16,400 crores every year.
Forest fire in India is around 3 million hectare per year with a loss of forest cover valuing around Rs 440 crores. On the whole, in India, forests contribute 1.7 per cent of GDP of the country excluding the fuel-woods and other NTFP material values.
Importance of Forest Resources:
In general forests have three important functions viz., protective function, productive function and accessory function. The productive function includes the fact that forests are the sources of various materials of human livelihood support system.
The protective functions include the fact that forests are performing a number ecological support system viz., climate control, soil conservation, drought and cyclone mitigation. In addition, there are other functions too, viz., the significance of forest in recreation, aesthetics, wildlife conservation.
It is an estimate that during the lifetime of a typical grown tree, 200,000 US$ worth of ecological benefits can be available annually. The benefits includes oxygen production, CO2 sink, air purification, soil fertility enhancement, soil erosion control, water recycling, humidity control, and wild-life habitat management. But the benefit of same tree as timber is worth about some US$ only.
Only 10,000 years ago, agriculture began at the expenses of deforestation, and consequently global forest cover reduced to only 25 to 35% on an average. In many areas of tropics forests are disappearing and fragmented.