India is the 12th wealthiest nation worldwide when it comes to biodiversity. The abundance of flora and fauna in India with more than 89,000 animal species along with more than 47,000 plant species makes it a land of natural diversity. The same is thoroughly explained in the chapter Natural Vegetation and Wildlife of the Class 9 Geography Syllabus. This chapter will familiarize you with the various interesting facts about nature and wildlife. Due to its intricate details about vegetation, flora and fauna, it becomes essential to thoroughly grasp the notes of this chapter so that you can quickly go through the important pointers before the examination. So, let us understand it better through these notes.
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Definition of Natural Vegetation and Wildlife
Natural Vegetation can be simply understood as a variety of plants that have grown naturally, on their own, without any involvement of human life. Once the natural vegetation is fully grown and remains untouched by humans, it is called virgin vegetation.
Flora is commonly used to denote the plant life of a particular region, whereas fauna is used to refer to the animal life of a particular area. Both flora and fauna come together to form biodiversity of a specific period or region. The biodiversity of a particular period or region depends upon relief, climate and ecosystem. Let us study them in detail.
Land – Natural vegetation and wildlife are affected by land both directly and indirectly.
- The part of the land which is fertile and is devoted entirely to agriculture.
- Grasslands and woodlands help in developing and giving shelter to a varied variety of wildlife in undulating and rough terrains.
Soil – There are different types of soil that give birth to different kinds of vegetation.
- Hill slopes have soil that has conical trees.
- The desert has sand soils which give support to thorny bushes and cactus. On the other hand, deltaic, wet and marshy soils support deltaic and mangrove vegetation.
Temperature – The temperature of a place determines the extent and character of vegetation along with precipitation, soil and humidity in the air. The vegetation and its growth affect the fall in temperature.
Sunlight or Photoperiod – The duration and variation of sunlight in different places are due to differences in season, latitude, altitude and duration of the day. The trees grow faster in the summer season due to the longer duration of sunlight.
Precipitation – There is denser vegetation in areas that receive heavy rainfall as compared to areas with less rainfall.
An ecosystem is defined as the interdependent and interrelated relationship between all the animals and plants in an area in their physical environment. An ecosystem also consists of human beings at the centre of it. The ecosystem is an integral part of our nature and it is essential to maintain its balance. A vast ecosystem with different types of natural vegetation and wildlife is called a biome.
Forests are a renewable natural resource that plays a significant role in enhancing the quality of the environment. Forests comprise various undiscovered animal and plant species that are responsible for regulating the temperature and causing rainfall. They also control climate, and soil erosion, and help in sustaining a livelihood.
Types of Vegetation
The following types of major vegetation are found in India.
- Tropical Evergreen Forests
- Tropical Deciduous Forests
- Tropical Thorn Forests and Scrubs
- Montane Forests
- Mangrove Forests
Let’s study these forests in detail
Tropical Evergreen Forests
These forests are characterised by heavy rainfall and rich diversity of flora and fauna. The average rainfall received by these forests is 200 cm with an abridged dry season. Majorly these forests can be seen in the parts and coastlines of the Western Ghats areas like Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu, Lakshadweep and Assam. The vegetation in these forests includes trees, shrubs, and creepers, and have a lush, multi-layered structure while the forests remain green throughout the year. There is no specific time for the trees to shed their leaves. Commercially important trees like Ebony, Mahogany, Rubber and even Cinchona are found in abundance in the area. The forests are full of animals of a wide range from monkeys to elephants, deer and even birds, scorpions, bats, etc.
Must Read: Top Forestry Courses
Tropical Deciduous Forests
Also known as the Monsoon Forests, these are the most widely spread forests across the country. They receive an annual rainfall between 200-170 cm. These forests experience 6-8 weeks of dry summer when they shed their leaves. Typical animals found in these areas include lions, tigers, elephants, and pigs. Tropical deciduous forests are further divided into subcategories:
Moist Deciduous Forests
The average rainfall received in these areas is between 200-100cm, and there is an abundance of woody trees found here. It includes teak, bamboo, sal, Sheesham, mulberry, etc.
Dry Deciduous Forests
The average rainfall in these areas ranges from 100-70cm, and trees like neem, peepal and sal grow here.
Have a look at the entire Geography Syllabus!
Thorn Forests and Scrubs
The Thorn forests and scrubs can be majorly seen in the areas which have rainfall less than 70cm and natural vegetation can be seen there which consists of thorns and bushes. Rajasthan, Gujrat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh are the semi-arid areas where you can find them. The trees in these areas have longer and scattered roots that penetrate deep into the soil to absorb moisture along with thick leaves to minimise evaporation. The major types are acacia, palm, and cactus. Animals found in these areas are rats, mice, tigers, lions, wolves, foxes and camels.
The forests found in the mountains at an altitude ranging from 1000-2000 metres are generally categorised under Montage Forests. The natural vegetation and wildlife in this area have Alpine vegetation which is used for grazing. The region also has tundra vegetation with mosses and lichens. Common animals in this area include Kashmiri stag, spotted deer, antelopes, yak, snow leopard, bears, sheep and goats.
All the forests which you may encounter near coastlines where mud and silt get accumulated by tides are majorly the Mangrove Forests. Dense mangrove is a common variant in mangroves where roost and plants are submerged underwater. These are found in the Kaveri Delta, Godavari Delta, Krishna Delta and Mahanadi. The Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta has Sundari trees which provide us with hard timber. The famous Royal Bengal Tiger is commonly found here.
Next in line with our natural vegetation and wildlife notes for class 9 is the interesting topic of wildlife. The diversity of fauna contributes to the wildlife of an area. Enlisted below are some exciting facts about wildlife and nature:
- Camels are found in the Thar Desert; Wild Ass is found in Rann of Kachchh.
- Lions are found in the Gir forest in Gujarat.
- Elephants are found in the wet forests of Assam, Karnataka and Kerala.
- One-horned rhinoceros found in Assam and West Bengal.
- Ladakh is home to Yaks, Wild Ox, Antelopes, Wild Sheep and Wild Ass.
- Tigers are found in Madhya Pradesh, Sundarbans, and the Himalayas
- Turtles, Crocodiles and Gharials are found in rivers, lakes and coastal areas.
- Forests and wetlands are home to Peacocks, Ducks, Pheasants, Parakeets and Pigeons.
Reasons Behind Threat to Flora and Fauna
Class 9 social science chapter for natural vegetation and wildlife underlines the threats to flora and fauna due to various ill human activities and natural calamities.
The ecosystem has an important role, therefore, the conservation of flora and fauna is very important. There are 1,300 plant species that are endangered and 20 species are now extinct. The main reasons behind this threat to nature are:
- Chemical and industrial waste causing pollution.
- Hunting of endangered species for commercial species.
- Cutting forests rapidly for habitation.
The government’s steps to conserve natural vegetation and wildlife include:
- Setting up 18 biosphere reserves to protect natural vegetation and wildlife in India.
- Botanical gardens in the country have been given financial and technical assistance since 1992. They are home to a wide range of natural vegetation and wildlife.
- Natural heritage is being conserved with 103 National Parks, Zoological gardens and 535 Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- Missions like Project Tiger, Project Rhino, and many others are focusing on eco-developmental projects.
An ecosystem is a community of plants, animals and smaller organisms that live, feed, reproduce and interact in the same area or environment. Some ecosystems are very large. For example, many bird species nest in one place and feed in a completely different area. On the other hand, some ecosystems may be physically small, such as you would find in a meadow at the edge of a forest, or in a coral reef in the ocean.
The distribution of plants and animals on the earth is determined mainly by climate. However, the other factors are soil, relief and drainage, though most of them are also interrelated.
A protected area reserved for the conservation of endangered species of flora (plants) and fauna (animals) in their natural habitat. The Sunderbans in West Bengal and Nanda Devi in Uttaranchal are the two examples.
Uses of Biosphere Reserve:
– In a biosphere reserve, endangered species of animals and plants are protected.
– This important heritage (of plants and animals) is transmitted to future generations in all its natural vigour and glory.
– The surrounding areas are reserved for research work for the betterment of flora and fauna.
The common animals found in the tropical forests are elephants and monkeys and the common animals found in the montane forests are Kashmir stag and spotted dear.
The flora of a country consists of the plant kingdom of that country. It covers trees in the forests, other flowering and non-flowering free grown by man, grassland, scrubs, fens, etc. India possesses about 47,000 different species of plants and 5,000 of them are exclusively found in India.
The fauna of a country consists of birds, fish and animals. It also includes amphibians, reptiles, mammals, small insects and worms. The fauna of India is quite rich and varied. There are about 89,000 species in India.
Tropical Evergreen Forests:
Evergreen forests (or Tropical Rain Forests) are found in the rainy parts of the Western Ghats and the island groups of Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Ebony, Mahogany and Rosewood are the most important trees of the Evergreen Forests. Teak is the most dominant species of deciduous forests. Other trees found here are Bamboo, Sal, Shisham, Sandalwood and Khair.
Deciduous forests are found mostly in the eastern parts of the country – northeastern states along the foothills of the Himalayas, Jharkhand, West Orissa and Chhattisgarh and the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. Trees of the Evergreen Forests don’t shed their leaves at one and the same time, so these forests remain evergreen. The trees of the deciduous forests shed their leaves for about six to eight weeks in summer.
The following major types of vegetation are found in our country:
1. Tropical Rain Forests
2. Tropical Deciduous Forests
3. Tropical Thorn Forests and Scrubs
4. Montane Forests
5. Mangrove Forests
The vegetation of high altitudes is Montane Forests. In mountainous areas, the decrease in temperature with increasing altitude leads to the corresponding change in natural vegetation. As such, there is a succession of natural vegetation belts in the same order as we see from the tropical to the tundra region. The wet temperate type of forest is found between a height of 1000 and 2000 metres. Evergreen broad-leaf trees such as Oaks and Chestnuts predominate. Between 1500 and 3000 metres, temperate forests containing coniferous trees like Pine, Deodar, Silver fir, Spruce and Cedar, are found. These forests cover mostly the southern slopes of the Himalayas and places having high altitudes in southern and northeast India.
At higher elevations, temperate grasslands are common. At high altitudes, generally, more than 3,600 meters above sea level, temperate forests and grasslands give way to the Alpine vegetation. Silver fir, junipers, pines and birches are the common trees of these forests. However, they get progressively stunted as they approach the snowline. Ultimately through shrubs and scrubs, they merge into the Alpine grasslands. These are used extensively for grazing by nomadic tribes like the Gujjars and the Bakarwals. At higher altitudes, mosses and lichens form part of tundra vegetation. The common animals found in these forests are Kashmir stag, spotted dear, wild sheep, jackrabbit, Tibetan antelope, yak, snow leopard, squirrels, Shaggy horn wild ibex, bear and rare red panda, sheep and goats with thick hair.
Quite a few animal species are endangered and some have become extinct. The main causes for this major threat to nature are hunting by greedy hunters for commercial purposes, pollution due to chemical and industrial waste, acid deposits, the introduction of alien species and reckless cutting of the forests to bring land under cultivation and inhabitation, which are also responsible for the imbalance.
Our country India is one of the twelve-mega bio-diversity countries of the world. With about 47,000 plant species India occupies tenth place in the world and fourth in Asia in plant diversity. There are about 15,000 flowering plants in India, which account for 6 per cent of the world’s total number of flowering plants. The country has many non-flowering plants such as ferns, algae and fungi. India also has 89,000 species of animals as well as a rich variety of fish in its fresh and marine waters.
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