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Introduction to Natural Vegetation and Wildlife in india

Natural vegetation refers to the natural growth of plant communities in a region without any human intervention. Natural vegetation and animal life are referred to as flora and fauna, respectively. Ideally, 33 per cent of the area of a country should be under forests. In India, as recorded in 2001, the forest cover was only 20.55 per cent. A large number of species of plants and wild animals were lost, since a large cover of forests have been cleared to make way for development projects and availability of land for extending agriculture, urbanisation and industrialisation to keep pace with the increasing population.


The species of plants and animals which have completely disappeared from the forests are called ‘extinct species’. Those species which are on the verge of extinction are called ‘endangered species’.

Two major controlling factors of natural vegetation of an area are rainfall and temperature. Relief and soil also contributes to the distribution of natural vegetation.

Natural vegetation of India is divided into five main types. They are

  1. Tropical evergreen forests
  2. Tropical deciduous forests or monsoon forests
  3. Tropical thorn and shrubs forests
  4. Mangrove forests
  5. Himalayan vegetation

The characteristics of these vegetation types are elaborated in a mind map in Figure 3.1. Figure 3.2 shows the distribution of major types of natural vegetation in India.

The forests in India are categorised under the following categories:

  1. National Parks—These are reserved forests where the natural vegetation and wildlife are preserved in their natural surroundings. Kanha National Park and Bandipur National Park are some examples.
  2. Wildlife Sanctuaries—These are portions of the forests where wildlife is protected by prohibition on their hunting and poaching. The Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and Sariska Tiger Reserve are some examples.
  3. Biosphere Reserves—These are forests where all the varieties of flora and fauna are preserved in their natural surroundings. Apart from the indigenous plant and wild animals, the tribal communities are also protected in the Biosphere Reserves. There are 18 Biosphere Reserves in India, some of them are the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu; Simplipal in Orissa; Nanda Devi in Uttarakhand; Sunderbans in West Bengal; Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu; Nokrek in Meghalaya; and Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh.


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