Flora and Fauna in India
- India is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of its vast array of biological diversity.
- India houses nearly 8 per cent of the total number of species in the world.
- According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the different categories of existing plants and animal species can be classified as follows
- Normal Species and Endangered Species: Endangered species are those that are in danger of extinction.
- Vulnerable Species: Vulnerable species are those whose population has declined to levels from where it is likely to move into the endangered category in the near future if the negative factors continue to operate.
- Rare Species: Species with small population may move into the endangered or vulnerable category if the negative factors affecting them continue to operate. Endemic Species: Endemic species are those which are only found in some particular areas usually isolated by natural or geographical barriers.
- Extinct Species: Species which are not found after searches of known or likely areas where they may occur are called extinct species.
What are the negative factors that cause such fearful depletion of the flora and fauna?
- During the colonial period due to the expansion of the railways, agriculture, commercial and scientific forestry and mining activities, the greatest damage was inflicted on the Indian forests.
- Agricultural expansion continues to be one of the major causes of depletion of forest resources post-independence too.
- Loss of forests is also due to large-scale development projects like river valley projects which caused clearing of more than 5,000 sq km of forest, since 1951.
- Deforestation is also caused by mining as in the Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal which is seriously threatened by the ongoing dolomite mining.
- The greatest degrading factors behind the depletion of forest resources are grazing and fuel-wood collection, according to many foresters and environmentalists.
- India’s biodiversity has declined due to habitat destruction, hunting, poaching, over-exploitation, environmental pollution, poisoning and forest fires.
- Environmental destruction is also due to unequal access, inequitable consumption of resources and differential sharing of responsibility for environmental well-being.
- Another major cause of environmental degradation is over-population in third world countries.
Conservation of Forest and Wildlife in India
- Conservation is essential for preserving the ecological diversity and water, soil and air which are the life support systems.
- The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act was implemented in 1972, with various provisions for protecting habitats and an all-India list of protected species was published.
- The central government also announced several projects for protecting specific animals, which were gravely threatened.
Types and Distribution of Forest and Wildlife Resources
- Forest are classified under the following categories:
- Reserved Forests.
- Protected Forests.
- Unclassed Forests.
- Reserved and protected forests are known as permanent forest estates.
- Unclassed forests managed by local communities are large percentage of forests in all Northeastern states and parts of Gujarat.
Community and Conservation
- Villagers have fought against mining in Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, by citing the Wildlife Protection Act.
- 1,200 hectares of forest have been declared as the Bhairodev Dakav ‘Sonchuri’ by the inhabitants of five villages in the Alwar district of Rajasthan.
- The famous Chipko movement in the Himalayas is evidence that community afforestation with indigenous species can be enormously successful.
- Beej Bachao Andolan in Tehri and Navdanya are farmers and citizen’s groups that have shown that adequate levels of diversified crop production without the use of synthetic chemicals are possible and economically viable.
- Joint Forest Management (JFM) programme in India is evident of involving local communities in the management and restoration of degraded forests.