Here is an essay on the ‘Forests of India’ for class 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on the ‘Forests of India’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on the Forests of India
- Essay on the Introduction to Forests in India
- Essay on the Types of Forests
- Essay on the Important Uses of Forests
- Essay on Forests – Economic Form of Land Use
- Essay on the Protection of Forests
Essay # 1. Introduction to Forests of India:
The forests in India are located primarily in Himalayan region and to some extent in Indo-Gangetic plains and Deccan plateau. The total area under forest in India covers 22.8% of the total geographical area (Table 10.1) as against 48% in northern Europe, 45% in Eastern Europe and U.S.S.R., 33.3% in north America, 38.9% in South America. On a global basis, forests cover one third of the total land area.
Thus, forest area in India is proportionally smaller in comparison to other advanced countries of the world. Our national policy laid down that India as a whole should aim at maintaining one-third of its land under forests, the proportion being 60% in hilly regions and 20% in plains.
Not only is the forest area small, but also its distribution is uneven in India. Table 10.2 summarizes the forest area in different states and union territories.
Essay # 2. Types of Forests:
Forests can be divided into five types in India:
i. Evergreen Tropical Forests:
The trees which remain in leaf throughout the year are called evergreen trees. These trees do not shed leaves in a particular season. The areas which have heavy rainfall and hot climate are called tropical. Evergreen tropical forests are found in the Western Ghats in Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
The hilly areas of Assam and West Bengal also have Evergreen Tropical Forests. Trees like ebony, rose-wood, sandal wood, bamboo and khair grow in these forests. Wild animals such as tigers, elephants, rhinoceros, leopards, panthers and deer are found in these forests.
ii. Deciduous Forests:
The trees in these forests have broad leaves, which they drop on the onset of winter. These trees put on new leaves in spring. These forests are called Deciduous Forests or Tropical Monsoon Forests. Such forests are found in the Eastern Ghats, Eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, Deccan Plateau, the Vindhyas, the Satpuras, foot-hills of the Himalayas and the Shivaliks. Trees like sal, teak, sheesham and peepal grow in these forests. The wood of these trees is hard and is used for making furniture. The States of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have such forests.
iii. Thorny Forests:
Such forests grow in the areas which have scanty rainfall. These trees and bushes have thick bark, long roots and few leaves. These plants can withstand long dry spell. Such forests are found in Western parts of Rajasthan, Southern parts of Punjab and Haryana and some parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. These forests are also called Desert Forests. Trees like kikar, babul and cactus grow in these forests. Wild berries and thorny bushes also grow here.
iv. Coniferous Forests:
The coniferous trees grow in cold climate. The trees have needle like leaves and can bear cold weather. These trees bear cones in place of flowers and fruits. So they are called conifer trees. Trees like pine, deodar, birch, fir and spruce grow in these forests. These forests are also known as the Mountain Forests or the Himalayan Forests. Conifer trees grow at a height of1600 meters or above in the Himalayas and in the Nilgiri Hills in the South.
The Himalayan Region has different kinds of forests depending on the height and rainfall of the area. The foot-hills of the Himalayas have thick deciduous forests. The middle ranges have mixed forests of deciduous and coniferous trees. Still higher ranges have no forests. Only some shrubs, bushes and grass are found there in summer.
v. Mangrove Forests:
On the delta of the big rivers silt is deposited by the rivers or the tidal waves of the ocean. Such places become marshy. This encourages growth of dense forests. These forests are also called Tidal Forests. Mangrove and sundri trees grow in these forests. Such forests are found in the deltas of Ganga, Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna. The delta of Ganga is known as Sunderbans due to the growth of sundri trees. The famous Bengal tiger is found in Sunderbans.
Essay # 3. Important Uses of Forests:
The main use of forests is for the extraction of timber, and this is always likely to remain the most important use of forests. However, forests have other values which have been increasingly realized in recent years. Among the most important of these is the protection of water resources. Rainfall runs off forested land much more slowly than off cleared land.
The trees intercept and retain the moisture on their leaves, or absorb it into their roots and stems, and this ensures a more gradual transfer of water. Soil erosion, caused by rapid runoff, and flooding, caused by too much water entering the rivers at one time, are prevented or considerably reduced. Water-catchment areas are thus usually protected by a forest cover to prevent excessive run-off.
Afforestation may even, in some areas, help to improve the climate. If trees can be planted in dry areas, they can protect the soil from wind erosion, prevent excessive evaporation from bare ground, and add moisture to the atmosphere by transpiration, thus slightly modifying humidity conditions. The relationship of climate to land use has not yet been fully established, but it seems likely that the presence of forests in many areas does slightly modify the climate.
Forests also have great value for recreation. They may be beautiful in themselves or may beautify the landscape by adding variety to agricultural districts. They are pleasant for picnics, walks and other outdoor activities, and if they are associated with lakes, as is often the case in catchment areas, they make excellent parks.
Forests are also the homes of many wild animals and birds and these may be watched, as in national parks, or hunted for sport. Forestry and wildlife conservation may go hand in hand in some areas and if properly managed, forests may create a new form of income from tourism.
Because of these uses, as well as their value for timber production, forests are often a very valuable land-use type. This was not always realized in the past, and agriculture has traditionally been considered a more valuable form of land use, so that forests have only remained in areas not suitable for agriculture. But because of the current world growth in demand for timber, and because the other conservational values of forests have been realized, the attitude to forests is changing.
Nowadays, existing forests are carefully preserved in many countries; where they are exploited for timber they are governed by replanting regulations, and new forests are being established in many regions.
There are many regions today, where forestry has a greater economic value than agriculture, and other regions where the preservation of virgin forest has an economic value far greater than would accrue if it were exploited for timber or cleared for agriculture.
Essay # 4. Forests – Economic Form of Land Use:
There are basically three types of forest-those which exist simply because they have not been cleared and are not yet exploited for timber; those which are periodically cleared for commercial timber extraction and are then replanted or allowed to regenerate naturally; and those which have been deliberately planted where forests did not grow before or where earlier forests had been cleared.
i. Virgin Forests:
In some areas it is economically worthwhile to preserve forests in their original conditions without exploiting them for timber. In some cases it may be that the land covered by forest would have no value for any other land use, or it may contain few valuable trees. The clearing or exploitation of such forests would obviously be uneconomic and would serve no purpose.
On the contrary, the clearing of such forests might well have many disadvantages; it might lead to enhanced soil erosion, disadvantageous modification of the climate, or changes in hydrological conditions, resulting in floods or water shortages.
Thus even the small island-republic of Singapore, where population densities are very high and there is great pressure on space, finds it worthwhile to preserve an area of forest in the centre of the island to protect a water catchment. It also uses these forests to good recreational advantage, and thus reduces the amount of open space required in other parts of the island.
Preserved forests may have aesthetic advantages, such as the preservation of wildlife or natural vegetation including rare or exotic plants, or more direct economic advantages if the forests are used as national parks and encourage tourism.
Such a usage of forests may require only slight clearance for access routes and visitor accommodation, which does not greatly detract from the character of the forests. The national parks of many African countries, such as Kenya, are their main tourist attractions and are thus preserved for the large income which can be derived from tourism.
Virgin forests have other minor advantages, including their value for scientific research. Such research may not lead to the exploitation of the preserved forest itself, but it may enhance the output or improve the utilization techniques in other forested areas. It is now increasingly obvious that some virgin forests must be preserved as a kind of genetic bank.
Plants of all sorts and the animals which the forests harbour may have a value in the future which we cannot foresee, either for food or for other purposes, and if these are destroyed we cut ourselves off from the possible use of such resources. This forms a strong argument in favour of forest conservation in some regions.
ii. Commercial Forests:
Forests used for timber represent the most valuable type of land use when they occupy land which, if cleared, would be of little agricultural value. The monetary returns from logging are greater than could be expected from the poor crops grown on marginal lands. Moreover, if carefully managed, forestry leads to less soil erosion on many types of marginal land than does agriculture.
Thus areas of steep slopes and thin soils, where farming would be difficult or would create erosion; infertile stony or sandy soils, where returns from crops would be poor; waterlogged land where crops could only be grown with great expense on drainage; areas of harsh climate or short growing season where crops do not mature; areas too distant from markets for economic marketing of agricultural produce; areas with a shortage of population where it may be impossible to establish agriculture; are all more economically utilized for forests than for agriculture.
Forestry is thus important in many tropical areas, e.g. the highlands of Malaysia, where agriculture would harm the soil, and in cold, remote or sparsely- settled regions such as northern Canada or Asiatic U.S.S.R.
Where silviculture is practised trees may represent one of several sources of income for mixed farmers, as is the case in some parts of Scandinavia. In such areas forests may occupy the poorest land, but they ensure that the largest possible amount of land is economically utilized.
It should also be remembered that while forests are being exploited for timber, so long as they are properly managed, they are still providing conservational advantages, so that their economic value to the country as a whole, as well as to the timber company, may be great.
iii. Newly Planted Forests:
Deliberately planted forests have many economic advantages. They can be planted to protect soil or rehabilitate eroded areas, as in the Tennessee Valley; to halt moving dunes, as in the Landes of France; to prevent wind erosion or act as wind-breaks in coastal regions or in such areas as the U.S. Great Plains or the English Fens; to modify the climate and so on.
They may also be planted on land not previously forested, e.g. rocky uplands, heathlands, to increase the economic potential of hitherto useless areas. At the same time they have most of the conservational advantages of virgin forests, and in addition they are usually well-managed so that they can be exploited for timber or other products, e.g. naval stores, without the conservational gains being offset.
Forests are also planted in areas where agricultural changes, such as greater specialization or competition from new producing areas, make it no longer profitable to use the land for agriculture. As demand for timber grows the price will rise, so that forestry will increasingly compete with agriculture in marginal areas.
Such a situation arises in many parts of Scandinavia, where mixed farming or livestock production is theoretically possible, but it is more economic to grow timber and import food supplies. Farming in marginal areas may have provided a bare subsistence in the past, but where rural depopulation and low returns from the land make agriculture difficult, e.g. in upland Britain, the Massif Central of France, forestry is an increasingly attractive undertaking.
Forests may also be planted where natural forests are few or much of the original forest cover has been cleared, e.g. in Australia or Britain respectively, with a view to economic security. Such a policy is far-sighted since it can secure timber supplies in case of an emergency.
Finally, forests are often planted to improve the recreational amenities or the beauty of an area. For instance, old slag heaps and derelict mining land can be planted with trees to make pleasant parks and to improve the appearance of old industrial towns. Such a policy is pursued in Britain and many European countries.
This type of afforestation may at first sight seem to have only an amenity value, but in fact it also has an indirect economic value, in that it reduces the need for other land to be set aside for recreation, and it may encourage firms to set up in an area which previously looked so run-down that new economic development was discouraged.
It can be seen from the above examples, that in many cases forests have an economic value beyond what is at first apparent, and that, in many areas, forests may represent the best possible land use. Under these circumstances it seems likely that not only the rate of forest exploitation, but also the rate of replanting and of new planting, will increase in future, and that the economic potential of forests will be more fully realized.
Essay # 5. Protection of Forests:
Large scale unauthorized and indiscriminate felling of forests have been taking place not only for meeting the requirement of villagers nearby the forests, but also for selling them to distant markets. Illicit felling of trees is helped by timber contractors. Prosecution of cases of illicit felling of trees in court often results in acquittal of the offenders because of the lack of witness.
The solution lies in educating people about the importance of forest and the dangerous consequences of such destructive felling. The role played by forest is not known even to most of the educated people. It is, therefore, necessary that forestry should be included in the syllabus of the schools.
At the same time law should be strengthened to deal with severely such offenders. It is also necessary to see that bonafide requirements of the villagers are met so that they do not resort to the illicit felling’s. Farm forestry should be popularized to reduce the burden of wood requirement.
The solution of problem of shifting cultivation lies in raising the standard of living of tribals and allotting them a fixed area permanently. Tribals should be educated about the improvement in agricultural practices and economics of balanced land use. The shifting cultivation is like a dangerous disease in the forest and should be checked immediately.
Excessive grazing deteriorates the conditions of vegetation and promotes erosion. The serious problem due to grazing by cattle can be checked by controlled grazing. However, grazing in forests is rarely controlled and regulated.
If grazing is controlled it does little harm to the forests and may in fact be desirable for controlling the weed growth. It is, therefore, essential to stop excessive grazing. Sheep grazing should be restricted and goats should not be allowed to visit forests. They cause irreparable damage to young seedlings. Therefore, such areas should be closed permanently to grazing by animals.
Protection of forests from wild animals is a difficult task. Fencing either with barbed wire or live hedge could be used most effectively. Another method of protection of forests from wild animals is to control their population by using predators.
Protection of forests against fires is one of the important operations in forestry. Serious damages of fire have been observed in dry deciduous forests. Teak, sal and chir forests of the country.
The fire not only destroys the standing vegetation but also organic matter and leaf litter which is essential to maintain optimum level of humus in soil. Frequent annual fires may decrease the growth of grasses, herbs and shrubs. There are several reasons of forest fires.
However, forest fires are mostly caused deliberately by local population to drive away wild animals, but it causes more damage than good to the villagers directly or indirectly. Protection measures include prophylactic or preventive measures, extinguishing fires after these have been detected, and some post-fire operations.
In India, prophylactic measures include maintenance of fire lines. Fire lines are the cleared strips of sufficient width made all around the forests and running crisscross inside the forest so that a compact block or area is separated by the other area. Such fire lines are usually cleared before the start of the fire season in order to avoid the spread of fire from one area or block to another.
Sometimes some evergreen species are planted in fire lines and on the periphery of the valuable plantations of deciduous species. Among the prophylactic measures, the most important is to make the people conscious of the fire damage and to create awakening in the people regarding their moral duty for extinguishing forest fires.
Despite the fact that the forest play an important role not only in soil and water conservation but also in economic and industrial building up of the nation, the man has proved to be the greatest enemy of the forest. Therefore, lands being cleared for cultivation are badly exposed to soil erosion and disturbing the balance of natural forces in maintaining ecosystem.
Thus, it is obvious that our future is linked up with the maintenance of the equilibrium of the inexorable forces of nature. They act relentlessly without pity and mercy.
The shape of things to come a couple of hundred years after will depend upon how we conserve our soil, how we save our perennial springs, how we organise our physical defences against the destructive forces of nature and how, in short, we protect our forest.