Notes on Vegetation and Wildlife of India

India ranks one of the twelve mega bio-diversity country in the world. With about 47,000 plant species India occupies tenth place in the world and fourth in Asia in plant diversity. There are about 15,000 flowering plants in India which account for 6 per cent in the world’s total number of flowering plants. The country has many non-flowering plants such as ferns, algae and fungi. India also has approximately 90,000 species of animals as well as a rich variety of fish in its fresh and marine waters.
Tropic of cancer (23.5 N) divides India in two equal parts and India lies in the Northern hemisphere, hence providing better condition for Flora and Fauna to survive and cherish in this region.
The tropical region of India gets sunlight throughout the year suitable for growing plants and agriculture. Himalayan ranges has its own diversity to support flora and fauna.
Temperature Characteristics of Vegetation Zones:

Vegetation ZonesAnnual Temp in degree Celsius 
Tropical ZoneAbove 24
Sub-Tropical Zone17 to 24
Temperate Zone7 to 17
Alpinebelow 7

Types of Vegetation:

(a) Tropical Evergreen Forests

  • These are evergreen forests which never shade their leaves. 
  • In area of rainfall more 200cm with a short dry season.
  • Tress height can be of 60 meters or even more
  • Since the region is warm and wet throughout the year, it has a luxuriant vegetation of all kinds – trees, shrubs, and creepers giving it a multilayered structure.
  • There are found in Western Ghats, islands of Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar, and upper part of Assam and Tamil Nadu regions.
  • Important trees- ebony, mahogany, rosewood, rubber, and cinchona.

(b) Tropical Deciduous Forests

  • Most widespread forests of India and are also called Monsoon Forests.
  • Spread over the region of rainfall 200cm to 70cm.
  • They shed their leaves for 6 to 8 weeks in dry season.
  • On the basis of the availability of water, these forests are further divided into moist and dry deciduous.
  • The moist deciduous is found in areas receiving rainfall between 200 and 100 cm. These forests exist in the eastern part of the country – northeastern states, along the foothills of the Himalayas, Jharkhand, West Orissa and Chhattisgarh, and on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
  • Teak is the most dominant species of this forest. Bamboos, sal, shisham, sandalwood, khair, kusum, arjun, mulberry are other commercially important species.
  • The dry deciduous forests are found in areas having rainfall between 100 cm and 70 cm. These forests are found in the rainier parts of the peninsular plateau and the plains of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. 
  • Teak, Sal, Peepal, Neem are the important trees. A large part of this region is used for cultivation and some parts are used for grazing.

(c) Tropical Thorn forests and Scrubs

  • In the region of rainfall less than 70 cm.
  • Consists of Thorny trees and brushes, having long roots penetrating deep into soil and thick leaves to minimize evaporation.
  • This type of vegetation is found in the north-western part of the country including semi-arid areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
  • Acacias, palms, euphorbias and cacti are the main plant species.

(d) Montane Forests

  • They are found on Mountain ranges of India, especially at the southern slopes of Himalayas.
  • The wet temperate type of forests are found between a height of 1000 and 2000 metres, containing evergreen broad-leaf trees such as oaks and chestnuts are found 
  • Between 1500 and 3000 metres, temperate forests containing coniferous trees like pine, deodar, silver fir, spruce and cedar, are found.
  • At higher altitude, more than 3600 metres above sea level, temperate grasslands and forests are found such as Silver fir, junipers, pines and birches.
  • At further high altitude, snow stunted shrubs and scrubs, and henceforth, merge into Alpine grasslands.
  • The Alpine grasslands are used for grazing by nomadic tribes like the Gujjars and the Bakarwals. 
  • Mosses and Lichens are the part of Tundra vegetation of higher altitude slope of Himalayas.

(e) Mangrove Forests

  • These forests are found at the delta of rivers. 
  • The roots of tress are submerged in the water. 
  • The most popular delta forest is Sunderban forests in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Sundari Tress are found in this forest.
 (Image Source: MapsofIndia.com)

    Uses of Indian Forests:

    Since, India is a rich in its vegetation, has also economic aspects. Forests yield variety of products. They are divide into 2 categories- Major Products and Minor Products.
    Wood is the Major products which is used for timber and fuel. The coniferous forests of the Himalayas have several commercially useful tress such as Pine, spruce, cedar, deodar, used for making furniture, railway sleepers, paper, newsprint and cellulose as well as for building houses and bridges.
    Sal and Teak trees of the deciduous forests are hard and durable wood which widely used for timber. Sandalwood is used for making decorative items, scents. Rosewood is used for making furniture and caned articles. Bamboos are used for making houses, baskets, furniture, pulp and paper.
    Minor products of forests are lac, resins, gums, medical herbs, kattaha, fodder tendu leaves for making bidis and grass. Many are used for treatments like Sarpagandha for blood pressure; Jamun to control diabetes; Arjun to cure earache; Neem and Tulsi plant are used antibiotics and cold treatment respectively.
    Lac is used for making seals, bangles, electrical instruments. Resins are obtained from pines, used for making turpentine.

    Wildlife of Indian Continent:

    India is also rich in its fauna. It has approximately 90,000 animal species. The country has about 2,000 species of birds. They constitute 13% of the world’s total. There are 2,546 species of fish, which account for nearly 12% of the world’s stock. It also shares between 5 and 8 per cent of the world’s amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
    – There are over 14 Bio-sphere, 89 National parks and 490 Wildlife sanctuaries and Zoological parks are setup to take care of Natural Wildlife of Indian Continent.
    – The elephants are found in Assam, Kerala and Karnataka, whereas, one-horned rhinoceroses are found in Assam and West Bengal regions.
    Thar desert and Rann of Kuchchh also habitated with wildlife. Camels and Wild ass are found respectively.
    Indian bison, nilgai (blue bull), chousingha (four horned antelope), gazel and different species of deer and monkeys
    are also found.
    Gir is the home of Asiatic Lions and There are many tiger reserves. The present population of tigers in India is 2224.
    – The Himalayas ranges are also home of animals, which survive in extreme cold at high altitudes such as yak, the shaggy horned wild ox weighing around one tonne, the Tibetan antelope, the bharal (blue sheep), wild sheep, and the kiang (Tibetan wild ass). Furhtermore, the ibex, bear, snow-leopard and very rare red panda are found in certain areas.
    – In the rivers, lakes and coastal areas, turtles, crocodiles and gharials are found.

    Source: NCERT

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