Indian forests harbor about 81000 faunal species of which 1837 are endemic. They include Chinkaras, Blackbucks, Nilgai, Barasinghas, Chambers, Chitals As you probably know; endemic species are those species that are found in a given region or location and nowhere else in the world. You also find wild buffaloes, bison, bears, hyenas, wild pigs, jackals, foxes, lions, elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, and reptiles in the forests of India.
Golden jackal and world’s rarest monkey, the golden langurs are also found in the forests of India.
So one can conclude that Indian forest is rich in variety of faunal species..
We know that green plants are autotrophs i.e they produce their own food. All animals are either herbivores or carnivores and depend on plants for their food. Organisms that feed on plants often get eaten by other organisms.
For example, the grass is eaten by insects, insect, in turn, is eaten by a frog. The frog is consumed by a snake and the snake is eaten by the eagle. This is said to form a food chain. It is very important to note that the food chain always starts from a plant.
The grass is eaten by insects is eaten the frog is eaten by a snake is eaten by an eagle. Many food chains exist in the forest ecosystem.
Let us see one example; Here, The grass is eaten by a grasshopper, which in turn is eaten by a rat, which in turn is eaten by a snake, and finally which in turn is eaten by the hawk. It is very important to note that all food chains are interlinked.
If any of the food chains is disturbed, it affects the other food chains. Hence we can conclude that; Every part of the forest is dependent on the other parts. If we remove one component, all other components will be affected.
Forests: Our Lifeline
Forest is one of the most precious natural resources. Forests serve as green lungs and water purifying systems in nature. Our third of the earth’s land area is covered with forests. Forests house over two-thirds of known terrestrial species. In India, forests cover about 67.83 million hectares of land.
The flora of India is diverse. Our country possesses about 45,000 different species of plants. Nearly 5000 species are found exclusively in India. If you visit a forest, you will find, it is a different type of world altogether. You will find a full of varieties of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, and animals.
Trees are often covered with different types of creepers and climbers. Branches of the tall trees make a roof-like cover over the other plants in the forests. Some forests are so dense that sun rays hardly reach the floor of the forest, making it quite dark inside the forest.
The trees in the forest produce enough seeds and the forest floor provides favorable conditions for them to germinate and develop into seedlings.
The forest floor is often dark coloured and is covered with a layer of dead and decaying leaves, fruits, seeds, twigs and small herbs. It is important to note that the Decaying matter keeps the floor moist and warm.
Crown and canopy of trees
The branchy part of a tree above the stem is known as the crown of a tree. Different trees have crowns of different types and different sizes. The shape of the crown of a tree helps it survive in its particular habitat. Branches of the tall trees look like a roof over the other plants in the forest. This is called the canopy.
Canopy refers to upper layers formed by mature tree crowns. Canopy trees are able to photosynthesize relatively rapidly due to abundant light, due to their direct exposure to the sun. Canopy trees generally branch near the top of their long pole-like trunks.
Giant and tall trees constitute the top layers and which is followed by shrubs and tall grasses and finally the herbs form the lowest layer.
Nothing goes waste in a forest
It is very important to note that Forest is, in fact, a community of not just plants and animals but of micro-organisms as well. There are several organisms and micro-organisms that live in the soil of forests. The floor of the forest is a soft spongy carpet laid with dry leaves.
Mushrooms and micro-organism feed upon dead plants and animal tissues and convert them into humus. The micro-organisms that convert the dead plants and animals into humus are called decomposers.
During humus formation, the nutrients of the dead plants and animals are released into the soil. These nutrients from the soil are again absorbed by the roots of the living plants. Similarly, when an animal dies in the forest. Its dead body becomes food for vultures, crows, jackals and insects.
This is how- nutrients are cycled. “Nothing goes waste in a forest” You will also find various types of droppings at the forest floor. Several beetles and grubs feed on these droppings. The decaying animal dung provides nutrients to the seedlings to grow.
So, it is very interesting to conclude, that nothing goes to waste in the forest, everything is somehow consumed in the forest, in different ways. Forests are green lungs.
Green plants are autotrophs, i.e; They make their own food in the presence of sunlight. Plants release oxygen during photosynthesis and absorb carbon dioxide. The plants, thus, provide oxygen for animal respiration. And also maintain the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
That is why forests are called “green lungs of the world”.
Advantages of forests
Forests are a very important natural resources, in this module, let us understand the benefits of forests in our daily life..
- Forests provide habitats to diverse animal species.
- They also form the source of livelihood of many different humans settlements.
- They offer watershed protection, timber, and nontimber products.
- They prevent soil erosion.
- Forests help in maintaining the water cycle.
- They check global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.
- They offer recreational options such as camping, fishing, hiking, sightseeing, boating, cycling, and bird watching.
- Earth’s forests act as the earth’s air purifiers.
- Forests help in the absorption of solar heat during evaporation and transpiration.
- Forests are a source of sericulture.
- • Forests are a big source of fiber material that is used to weave baskets, ropes, nets, strings, etc.
- Forests help in maintaining the local climatic conditions.
- • Forests also regulate water flow and rainfall.
- • Livelihood of about 1.6 billion people depends on forests.
- Forests provide a home to more than 300 million people worldwide.
- • Forest also helps to regulate Earth’s climate.
- • Forest trees such as bamboo are used in making furnitures, baskets, ladders, etc.
- Forests also provide wood to make paper and other products such as gum, wax, rubber, and honey.
Now you know how important forest are for our ecosystem!