Forest is usually a dense collection of variety of vegetation including grass, shrubs, small plants and trees, covering an extensive area of land, and remaining in a fixed and self-regulated condition for over a long period of time.
Forests are one of the most important natural ‘ecosystems’ (i.e. Ecological system formed out of interactions and interconnections by the organisms living there with their surrounding environment and among themselves.) on the earth, covering about 30% of land area and supporting majority of living beings in some way or the other including fauna, avifauna and a large variety of insect species.
Forests are one of the most extensive Biome on earth; extending almost everywhere from equator to the Polar Regions.
One-third of the land surface over earth must be covered with the forests, to keep a healthy balance in the environment.
Types of Forests
Boreal / coniferous forests
These types of forests are found mainly at higher altitudes, as the name suggest (Boreal means of or extending towards north) these forests are located in the temperate regions of world, like northern parts of U.S.A., Canada, Greenland most parts of Europe and Russia.
In India these forests are mainly found in Himalayan high altitude regions.Extremely cold weather conditions and consequent poor quality soil doesn’t support very rich variety of floral species here.
Balsams, fir, cheer, pine, spruce, deodar and other types of coniferous trees (having conical shaped leaves) are found here.
They grow mostly in temperate regions, having moderate climatic conditions, of the world. Like southern parts of U.S.A., Europe and moderate climatic zones of Asia.
Deciduous forests (both tropical dry deciduous & tropical moist deciduous) are the most extensive and widespread species of forests found in India.
Rainforest are located in those parts of world which receives high amount of precipitation/rainfall throughout the year, thereby called rainforest.
They can also be called peaty or swampy forests owing to the nature of soil found at the forest floor.
These forests are found in subtropical and tropical regions of the world, that is, most parts of South America (Amazon basin) Hawaii, Eastern Australia, parts of south and south-east Asia etc.
The soil of rainforest is of very poor fertility, because surface run-off of the Rainwater all the year around devoid the forest floor of nutrient rich top-soil.
Trees found here are tall and thick, forming a broad canopy which seems to block most of the sunlight which causes the forest floor swampy.
In India, rainforest are found primarily in the Western Ghats, north-eastern region and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Factors affecting location of forests Worldwide
Forests, found throughout the world vary in their vegetation. Climate is the most important factor causing these variations.
Primarily, temperature and rainfall (main constituent of climate) causes variation in forest flora of a particular region, which tends to cause variation in the faunal biodiversity there.
Significance of forests
Forests has been of paramount significance for the very survival of all the terrestrial living beings and wildlife, as they provide them with food & shelter both, and in case of humans, livelihood also; simultaneously keeps a healthy balance in the ecosystem.
But, as realized by humankind, merits of forest to him date back to the era when he was learning the advantages of settled life, abandoning nomadic one.
He used to be totally dependent on forests for his food (fuel from timber to cook, as well as fruits and herbs), shelter (wooden huts), clothing (bark of trees), and safety (implements & weapons made of wood, like bow and arrow) etc.
In this modern era as well, besides providing us with the most basic goods, like fresh air we breathe to the food we eat, they play an important role in the economic development of a country as well.
Almost all the activities we undertake in our daily life are dependent on and connected to the forests, directly
Or indirectly. Thereby, improving living standards and quality of life of the inhabitants of the same. Apart from these, there are some more vital significance of forests enlisted below:
(i) Forests enhances and maintains amount of rainfall received by an area, and in this way keeps drought in check. Dense forests condenses low clouds, enhances precipitation and vegetative growth.
(ii) They help keep in check soil erosion. Strong & deep roots and broad canopies of forest trees keeps top layer of soil intact and safe from being eroded by surface runoff and high wind velocity, respectively.
(iii) They are very vital to keep a proper balance in the ecosystem by protecting and maintaining the biodiversity of flora &fauna of the region.
(iv) Forests play a significant role in mitigating climate change impacts on humans and environment, besides playing a vital role in keeping climate extremes in check, especially in areas receiving direct sunlight most of the daytime.
(v) Forests are only second to the oceans in maintaining balance of environmental carbon dioxide.
Besides providing us with food articles, forests also provides us natural resources of high economical value like, timber, major and minor forest produce and variety of rare medicinal herbs.
Also, around 2 billion people world over are directly dependent on forests for their livelihood.
Besides tangible importance like ecological and economic, forests, along with biodiversity possess great recreational importance too in human life, especially in this modern day robotic life.
Floral, faunal and avifaunal diversity of forests provides us a great chance to slow down from everyday rush, to feel and enjoy the refreshingly serene beauty surrounding us, and fill ourselves with new life to get ready again for facing everyday challenges of life.
Forest conservation: why is it so crucial?
Whatever is important to us, we tend to conserve it, and we must.
To maintain a harmonious balance between nature and development, we are responsible to conserve and protect them from further degeneration, caused mainly by large scale deforestation for the purpose of construction of dwellings or factories, agriculture or to extract timber etc.
After recognizing the importance of forest conservation for human survival, governments as well as various non-profit organizations all over the world have come forward with various laws and strategies for this cause.
CHIPKO MOVEMENT of Uttarakhand state gained fame and importance worldwide, for the cause of forest conservation on one hand and, the desire and involvement of local communities on the other.
Conservation of forests and wildlife, under articles 48A and 51A (g) of the CONSTITUTION OF INDIA, has been assigned to be the duty of State and citizens respectively.
The provision of forest management committees in collaboration with local communities has also been there for quite a long time, to keep a check on the excessive exploitation of forest resources.
Besides, VAN MAHOTSAV, a kind of afforestation drive is also celebrated to promote the cause.
With these and other awareness and protective measures for forest conservation we can very soon ensure adequate greenery and purity around us
Forests are like a lifeline for the human existence. And, there is no wonder in calling them as “GREEN GOLD” of earth.
From providing food, shelter and livelihoods to offering watershed protection, preventing soil erosion, mitigating climate change effects, we need them always and everywhere.
They forms an indispensable part of earth’s ecological system, without which we can’t even think of our smooth survival.
Owing to the numerous benefits and products provided to us by the forests, we can easily understand that forests are one of the most valuable resources bestowed by the mother nature on humankind.
And, it’s our duty now to protect and conserve them and allowing them to flourish ,and thereby keeping mother earth beautiful and decorated with lush green cover, always!