FOREST AND WILD LIFE RESOURCES
New Term: Biodiversity/Biological diversity : Rich wildlife and cultivated speices, diverse in form &function but closely integrated in a system through multiple network of interdependencies.
In this planet we share immense biodiversity.
‘We human beings along with all living organisms form a complex web of ecological system in which we are only a part and very much dependent on this system for our very existence.’ Justify the statement with the help of examples.
Examples: a) the plants, animals and micro organisms re-create the quality of air we breath, the water we drink, the soil that produces our food .
b) Forests play a very key role in the ecological system as these are also the primary producers on which all other living being are dependent.
FLORA AND FAUNA IN INDIA.
India is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of biological diversity & has nearly 8% of the total number of species in the world which are estimated to be 1.6 million.
These flora and fauna are so well integrated in our daily life and are taken for granted by us. Lately, they have been under great stress mainly due to our insensitivity to our environment.
It is estimated that at least 10% of India’s recorded wild flora & 20% of its mammals are on the threatened list. Many of these are categorized as ‘critical’ i.e., on the verge of extinction like Cheetah, pink-headed duck, mountain quail, forest spotted owlet and plants like madhuca insignis( a wild variety of mahua) & hubbardia heptaneuron( a species of grass).
Do you know? Among the larger animals in India 79 species of mammals, 44 birds, 15 of reptiles and 3 of amphibians are threatened.
Nearly 1,500 plant species are considered endangered.
--The forest cover in the country is estimated tobe 637,293sq km, which is 19.39% of the total geographical area. Dense forest:11.48%, open forest: 7.76%; mangrove:0.15%.
--According to the state Forest Report-1999, the dense forest cover has increased by 10,098 sq km since 1997. This increase is due to the plantation by different agencies.& also Report does not differentiate between natural forests and plantations therefore these reports fail to deliver the accurate information.
DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF EXISTING PLANTS AND ANIMALS SPECIES,.-based on the International Union for Conservation of Natural Resources-(IUCN)
We can classify as following:
1.Normal species: species whose population levels are considered to be normal their survival, such as cattle, sal, pine, rodents, etc.
2.Endangered species: these are the species which are in danger of extinction. The survival of such species is difficult if the negative factors that have led to their decline continue to operate. Example: black buck, crocodile, Indian wild ass, Indian rhino, lion, tailed macaque, sangai( brow anter deer in Manipur) etc.
3. Vulnerable species: 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. Examples: blue sheep, Asiatic elephant, Gangetic dolphin, etc.
4.Rare species: species with small population may move into the endangered or vulnerable category if the negative factors affecting them continue to operate. The examples: Himalayan brown, wild Asiatic buffalo, desert fox and hornbill,etc.
5.Endemic species: these species are only found in some particular areas usually isolated by natural or geographical barriers.
Example: Andaman teal, Nicobar pigeon, Andaman wild pig, mithun in Arunchal Pradesh.
6.Extinct species: these 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. Examples: Asiatic cheetah, pink head duck.
-- world’s fastest land mammal is a unique and specialized member of cat family and can move at the speed of 112 km/hr.
--Cheetah is often mistaken for a leopard but has distinguishing marks are the long tear dropped shaped lines on each side of the nose from corner of its eyes to its mouth.
--prior to 20th century Cheetah’s were widely distributed in Asia & Africa, today i.e is nearly extinct due to decline in habitat and prey.
--the species were declared extinct in India long back in 1952.
Q what are the negative factors that are causing depletion of flora & fauna?
The greatest damage inflicted on Indian forests was by the colonial period due to the expansion of the railways , commercial & scientific forestry and mining activities.
2. Agricultural expansion is one of the major causes of depletion of forest resources. As per Forest Servey of India. between 1951-1980 over 26.200 sq.km of the forest area was converted into agricultural land all over India.
3. Tribal belts especially in North- Eastern & central India, have been deforested or degrated by shifting cultivation (jhum), a type of 'slash and burn' agriculture.
4.Large-scale development projects have also contributed significantly to the loss of forests.
Since 1951, over 5,000 sq.km of forests have been cleared for river valley projects, and it is still being continued like the Narmada Sagar Project in MP, which would inundate 40,000 hectares of forests.
5.Mining is another important factor behind deforestation.
Example--The Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal is seriously threatened by the ongoing dolomite mining & it has disturbed natural habitat of many species and blocked the migration route of several others, including the great Indian Elephant.
6.Many environmentalists hold the view that the greatest degrading factors behind the depletion of forests is the grazing & fuel-wood collection & the substantial part of the fuel-fodder demand is met by lopping rather than by felling entire trees.
7. Forest ecosystems are the repositaries of the country's most valuable forests products, minerals and others resources that meet the demand of the rapidly expanding industrial-urban economy.
Q Are the colonial policies to be blamed for the depletion of flora & fauna?
Some environmentalists say that the promotion of few favoured species in many parts of India-termed as "enrichment plantation", in which single commercially valuable speices was extensively planted and other species eliminated.for EXAMPLE: Teakmonocutural has damaged the natural forests in South India and Chir Pine( Pinusroxburghii) plantations in the Himalayas have replaced the Himalays oak and Rhododendron forests.
The Himalayan Yew
It is a medicinal plant found in various parts of Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.
--a chemical compound called 'taxol' is extracted from the bark, needles, twigs and roots of this tree, and it has been been successfully used to treat some cancers, and the drug is now the biggest selling anti-cancer drug in the world.
-- the species are under great threat due to over exploitation.
--lately thousands of trees have dried up.
Q. What are the important factors /causes of environmental degration?
--Habitat destruction, hunting, poaching, over-exploitation, environmental pollution, poisioning and forest fires are the factors which have led to decline in India's biodiversity.
--unequal access, inequitable consumption of resources and differential sharing of responsibility for environmental well-being.
--over-population in third-world countries is often cited as another cause.
Q 'The destruction of forests and wildlife is not just a biological issue. The biological loss is strongly correlated with the loss of cultural diversity.' Discuss/ justify.
Destruction of forests and wildlife - a biological is a loss.
Such loss is strongly correlated with the loss of cultural diversity because
-- such losses have increasingly marginalised & impoverished many indigenous & other forest- resources-dependent communities, who directly depend on various components of the forests and wildlife for food, drink, medicine, culture, spirituality ect.
--within the poor, women are affected more than men.In many societies, women bear the major responsiblity of collection of fuel, fodder, water and other basic subsistence needs.As these resources are depleted the condition of women worsens as sometimes they have to walk a lot of distance to collect these resources., which in turn causes serious health problems for women and negligence of home and children because of increased hours of work which often have social implications.
-- the indirect impact of degration such as severe drought or deforestation-induced floods,ect. also hits the poor the hardest.
--Poverty in these cases is a direct outcome of envrionmental destruction.
Thus forest & wildlife, are vital to the quality of life and environment in the subcontinent.
Conservation of forest and wildlife resources in India.
In the background of rapid decline in wildlife population and forestry has become essential. we need to conserve forests because:
1. conservation preserves the ecological diversity and our life support systems-water,air and soil.
2. 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 varities.
3. Fisheries too are heavily dependent on the maintenance of aquatic biodiversity.
4. central govt. has also announced several projects forprotecting specific animals, which were gravely threatened, includind the tiger, one horned rhinoceros, the kashmir stag or hangul, three types of crocodiles- fresh water crocodiles, salt water crocodile and the gharial, the Asiatic lion and the 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.
Tiger is one of the key wildlife speciesin the faunal web.
--in 1973 the authorities realised that its population was dwindling and that there is major threat to tiger population. 1973' Project Tiger' was launched.
There are 27 tiger reserves in India.
Corbett National park in Uttaranchal, Sunderbans in West Bengal, Bandhavgarh in MP, Sariska wildlife sactuary in Rajasthan, Manas Tiger Reserve in kerala are some of the tiger reserves in India.
--Threat to tiger population is from:poaching for trade, shrinking habitat, depletion of prey base species, growing human population, etc.
--the trade of tiger skins and the use of their bones in traditional medicines, especially in the Asian countries left the tiger population on the verge of extinction
India and Nepal provide habitate to two-third of tiger population and have become prime targets for poaching and illegal trading.
TYPES AND DISTRIBUTION OF FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
In India much of forest and wildlife resources are owned or managed 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