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Forest Resources

23-NOV-2015 13:02

    Forests are among the most diverse and widespread ecosystems on earth, and have many functions: they provide timber and other forest products; have cultural values; deliver recreation benefits and ecosystem services, including regulation of soil, air and water; are reservoirs for biodiversity; and act as carbon sinks. The impact from human activities on forest health and on natural forest growth and regeneration raises widespread concern. Many forest resources are threatened by overexploitation, fragmentation, degradation of environmental quality and conversion to other types of land use. The main pressures result from human activities, including agriculture expansion, transport infrastructure development, unsustainable forestry, air pollution and intentional burning of forests.

    Scientists estimate that India should ideally have 33 percent of its land under forests. Today we have only about 23 percent. Thus we need not only to protect existing forests but also to increase our forest cover. People who live in or near forests know the value of forest resources first hand because their lives and livelihoods depend directly on these resources. Deforestation became a major concern in British times when a large amount of timber was extracted for building their ships. This led the British to develop scientific forestry in India. They however alienated local people by creating Reserved and Protected Forests which curtailed access to the resources. This led to a loss of stake in the conservation of the forests which led to a gradual degradation and fragmentation of forests across the length and breadth of the country. Another period of overutilization and forest degradation occurred in the early period following independence as people felt that now that the British had gone they had a right to using our forests in any way we pleased.

    Major Causes of Deforestation:

    • Expansion of Agriculture
    • Extension of Cultivation on Hill Slopes
    • Cattle Ranching
    • Firewood Collection
    • Timber Harvesting
    • Shifting Cultivation
    • Government Policies: As discussed earlier, the policy followed by Colonial ruler and the policy of government in free India.

    The forest area differs from state to state in India. Madhya Pradesh stands at the top in the total forest area, followed by the Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Odisha. One-fourth of the total forest covered area of the country is in the north-eastern states.

    State

    Total Forest Cover (Sq.Km )

    Madhya Pradesh

    77, 522

    Arunachal Pradesh

    67, 321

    Chhattisgarh

    55,621

    Maharashtra

    50,632

    Odisha

    50,347

    Among all the Indian states (excluding Union Territories), Haryana has least forest cover. It is followed by (in increasing order) Punjab, Goa, Sikkim, Bihar and Tripura.

    State

    Total Forest Cover (Sq.Km )

    Haryana

    1586 (least)

    Punjab

    1772

    Goa

    2229

    Sikkim

    3358

    Bihar

    7291

    Tripura

    7866

    Facts about India’s Forest Resources

    • Madhya Pradesh has largest area of Teak Forest.
    • The Expansion of Sal forests is from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh to the terai areas of Navgaon district in Assam. Besides, these forests are also found in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Northern Tamil Nadu and Odisha. The woods of Sal are hard and durable.
    • The Shisham forests are found in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. Its woods are used for the furniture making due to its hardest quality.
    • The Sandalwood trees are found mostly in Karnataka followed by Tamil Nadu. Its wood is hard and fragrant.
    • The Deodar trees are found in the Himalayan region. Its woods are used for making railway sleepers.
    • The Pine trees are found at greater heights in the Himalayan region.
    • The Mulberry forests are mostly found in Karnataka, that’s why Karnataka is the largest producer of raw silk (Sericulture is done on the mulberry trees.)
    • Jharkhand is the largest producer of lac. The lac worms are tended on the trees of palash, kusum, babul, banyan etc.
    • The Tendu trees are mostly found in Madhya Pradesh. Its leaves are used for making beedis.
    • The maximum area of sabai grass is in Madhya Pradesh.
    • Madhya Pradesh is the largest producer of bamboo followed by  Assam.
    • Kerala is the largest producer of coconut. The Central Coconut Research Institute is in  Kasaragod (Kerala).

    DISCLAIMER: JPL and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

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