March 21 is observed as ‘World Forestry Day’ around the globe every year to raise awareness about the significance of forests and its ecosystems, and to provide opportunities for people to learn how forests can be managed and used sustainably for generations to come.
As per the report of the India State of Forest Report 2011, the Forest and Tree cover of India is 78.29 million ha, which is 23.81% of the geographical area of the country. The state of Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country at 77,700 square km, followed by Arunachal Pradesh at 67, 410 square km. However, in terms of percentage of forest cover in relation to total geographical area, Mizoram tops with 90.68% followed by Lakshadweed with 84.56%.
Our country has a variety of woodlands existing in it; thus, take a look at different types of forests in India:
The rainforest area of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Western ghats, West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which receive heavy rainfall constitutes the tropical rainforest of India. These areas are enveloped with evergreen forests and have three storeyed vegetations. The upper storey consists of tall trees, while the middle storey is shaped of trees of lesser height. The thick, dense and rich environment is capable of providing food and shelter to a host of animals of all kinds-the ground dwellers as well as tree dwellers.
Gifted with enormous wealth of wildlife and forested land, Arunachal Pardesh is India`s only surviving tropical rainforest.
These forests are characterized by high rainfall; belong to the tropical wet climate group. The North eastern part of India is well-known for the rain forest. Rainforest has a vital role in global climate system as it responsible for cooling the air. Supporting a very broad range of animals, birds, reptiles, etc, the rain forest stretch of Arunachal Pradesh is considered as one of the largest elephant zone in India.
Deciduous or Monsoon Forests
Indian deciduous or Monsoon forests wrap the largest forest cover in the country. They are found in a range of landscapes from the plains to the hills. Deciduous forests are so called because the trees of these forests seasonally shed all their leaves.
Apart from the wide space that they cover in the country`s land area, the deciduous forests are also vital because they are home to some of the most endangered wildlife such as- tiger, Asian elephant and gaur. These forests are under extensive pressures from human resource-use as with all other ecosystems in India.
The Deciduous forests can be classified into two divisions, namely the moist deciduous forests and the dry deciduous forests:
Moist Deciduous Forests
The moist deciduous forests are located in wet regions, receiving rainfall ranging between 100-200 cms. The moist deciduous forests are most commonly found on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. They can also be found in the north-eastern part of the peninsula i.e. in the region of Chota Nagpur Plateau, covering east Madhya Pradesh, south Bihar and west Orissa. They are widespread along the Shivaliks in the northern India.
Most of the tropical deciduous forests are found in the state of Kerala.
Dry Deciduous Forests
The dry deciduous forests are sited in those areas where annual rainfall ranges from 500 - 1,500 mm and found throughout the northern part of the country. Sal is the most significant tree found in the dry deciduous forests. Deciduous forests are pretty substantial and cost-effective, but they demand a lot of safeguarding, as they are less resistant to fire. Tiger, wild dog, sloth bear and Chousingha are some of the threatened species found in these forests.
The Himalayan Subtropical Pine Forests
The pine forests are a large subtropical coniferous forest eco-region wrapping portions of Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.
This huge pine forest stretches for 3000 km across the lower elevations of the great Himalaya range for almost its entire length including parts of Pakistan`s Punjab Province in the west through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the northern Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan, which is the eastern extent of the pine forest. The pine forests are split by the deep Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal, to the west of which the forest is slightly drier while it is wetter and thicker to the east where the monsoon rains coming off the Bay of Bengal bring more moisture.
Indian Tidal or Mangrove Forests
Indian tidal or mangrove forests are mainly located on the Gangetic Delta and in Coastal Plains in West Bengal, called the Sunderban, which in Bengali, literally translates to beautiful forest. The Indian tidal or mangrove forests are considered as the largest mangrove forest in the world.
The Sunderban have recently been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List and been named as Sundarban National Park. The mangrove forests are one of the most productive and bio-diverse wetlands on earth. Considered as key to a healthy ecology, the mangrove forests provide critical aquatic habitat for a diverse marine and terrestrial flora and fauna.
The East Deccan Dry Evergreen Forests
The East Deccan dry evergreen forests cover the eastern part of Tamil Nadu and south-eastern part of Andhra Pradesh.
It receives an annual rainfall of 800 mm, and mostly falls during the highly variable northeast monsoon between October and December. The eco-region is home to two important wetlands, Kaliveli Lake north of Pondicherry in Viluppuram District of Tamil Nadu, and Pulicat Lake north of Chennai. Kaliveli Lake, which is known as one of the largest wetlands in peninsular India is deemed as a wetland of national and international importance by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is currently threatened by encroachment by agricultural fields, wildlife poaching, loss of the surrounding forests, and increases in commercial prawn farming.