(Last Updated on : 07/11/2012)
Natural vegetation in India is influenced by a few factors like topography, soil, amount of rainfall and temperature. Natural vegetation in India can be classified in different ways, according to their position, atmosphere, weather condition etc.
Types of Natural Vegetation in India
Some of the common characteristics of various types of natural vegetation in India include the Tropical Rain Forest
, the Tropical Deciduous Forests, the Temperate Forests and Grasslands, the Alpine and Tundra Vegetation etc. Apart from these, there are also some other varieties of natural vegetation in India like Himalayan Vegetation, Rain Forests
of Southern India, the Desert Region, etc.
Tropical Rain Forests
The tropical rain forests play an important role in natural vegetation in India. These types of forests include the tropical evergreen forests and tropical semi-evergreen forests and they are mostly found in places where there is plenty of rainfall and sunshine throughout the year.
Growth of the trees is usually at its best where rainfall is in surplus of 200 cm, with a short dry season. Therefore, these forests are called as Archetypal Rain-Forests. Such regions are limited within rainy slopes of the Western Ghats
, plains of West Bengal
and North-eastern India.
Trees grow very briskly in these forests and attain sublime heights of about 60 m and above. The number of species in these forests, like ebony, mahogany and rosewood, is vast and assorted to utilise them commercially.
Tropical Deciduous Forests
Another variety of natural vegetation in India can be found in the tropical deciduous forests. They are called as deciduous as they cast leaves for about 6 to 8 weeks in summer. They are also called the monsoon forests with all their grandeur and beauty. This is so because they form a natural cover approximately all over India, especially within regions having 200 and 75 cm of annual rainfall.
Most of the tropical deciduous forests are found in the state of Kerala
in India. Apart from Kerala, these forests can be found in the eastern slopes of Western Ghats and also in the north-eastern parts of the peninsular plateau and in the valleys of the Himalaya mountains
The tropical deciduous forests are pretty substantial, cost-effective and they demand a lot of maintenance, as they are less resistant to fire. These forests can be divided into moist and dry deciduous forests.
Moist Deciduous Forests
The moist deciduous forests are most commonly found on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. They are also found in the north-eastern part of the peninsula that is in the region of Chota Nagpur plateau
, covering east Madhya Pradesh
, south Bihar
and west Orissa
. They are also widespread along the Shiwaliks in the northern India. Some of the important trees found in these forests include Indian teak tree
, Sal, and sandalwood.
Thorn Forests and Shrubs
The Thorn Forests and Shrubs offer another kind of natural vegetation in India. These forests are mainly found in dry places where the annual rainfall is less than 70 cm. They are stretched over the north-western part of India, from Saurashtra
in the south to Punjab
plains in the north.
In the east, the thorn forests and shrubs extend towards northern Madhya Pradesh
(primarily Malwa Plateau
) and south-west Uttar Pradesh
, covering Bundelkhand
plateau. Dispersed trees with long roots, broadened in a radial pattern are the most familiar features of the trees in these forests. These forests slowly die away into scrubs and thorny bushes comprising the classic desert vegetation. Some of the most valuable plant species found in these forests include Babul
, Kikar and coarse Grasses.
Tidal or Mangrove Forests
The tidal forests provide another variety of natural vegetation in India. They can be found along the coasts and rivers and they are enshrouded by mangrove trees that can live in both fresh and salt water.
Sundari is a renowned mangrove tree, mainly found in the tidal forests and it is after this tree that the name Sundarban
has been entitled to the forested parts of the Ganga
Temperate Forests and Grasslands
Natural vegetation in India can be found in the temperate forests and grasslands, as well. Various types of plants are found in the Himalayas in relation to the varying altitudes. The broad-leaved evergreen trees usually grow between altitudes of 1 km and 2 km. The trees like oak, chestnut and maple belong to this category.
On the other hand, the coniferous trees like pine, deodar, silver fir and spruce are grown between altitudes 1.5 km and 3 km. They are mainly found in the southern slopes of the Himalayas. The temperate grasslands are also commonly seen at higher altitudes in these regions.
Alpine and Tundra Vegetation
Alpine and Tundra Vegetation is another kind of natural vegetation in India. Vegetation growing at altitudes above 3.6 km MSL is usually known as Alpine Vegetation and it can be noticed that with the increment of the altitude, the plants show stunted growth. The trees like Silver Fir, Pine, Juniper and Birch belong to this category. The Alpine Grasslands are mainly found at higher altitudes in this region. The people belonging to the tribal groups like Gujjar
make extensive use of this region. The vegetations like Lichen and Mosses are also found in high altitudinal regions.
The Himalayan vegetation is one of the major kinds of natural vegetation in India. The thick tropical forests in the eastern region of India have a sharp distinction with the pine and coniferous woodlands of the western Himalayas. The evergreen forests, with mainly high alpine meadows nearer the snowline, usually have more of temperate forests in the lower elevations. The plant named Chir Pine grows throughout the northwest Himalayas, with the exception of Kashmir
. The other plants like Chilgoza, Oak
, Maple, Ash etc. also grow abundantly in the Inner Himalayas. The rain-soaked foothills of the Himalayas are covered with deciduous trees, shrubs, fern and grass and the Brahmaputra Valley also have patches of tea plantations and fluorescent-green rice fields.
Rain Forests of Southern India
The rain forests of Southern India are contributing hugely to the natural vegetation in India. The most luxuriant rain forests lie on the south-western coast, in the state of Kerala
. Here the lagoons are canopied by coconut trees and lead to the longest uninterrupted stretch of rain forests in the country. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands
and the state of Arunachal Pradesh
are some of the other regions with well preserved rain forests in India. Apart from that, dense Sandal, Teak and Sisoo forests also flourish on the Karnataka
plateau. On the other hand, the dry Telengana plateau in Andhra Pradesh
offers only thorny scrub and wild Indian Wild Date Palm
Natural vegetation in India can be found in the desert region of India also. The Thar Desert in India
presents a wonderful picture of natural vegetation in India. The trees in this desert are short and stout, and stunted by the scorching sun. Some of the most common trees in this region include Cacti, Reunjha, Khejra, Kanju, Ak etc.
All these varieties of forests and areas significantly contribute to the natural vegetation in India. But there are several problems like deforestation, over-grazing, Jhum cultivations, which needs to be addressed in order to protect and conserve the natural vegetation in India. The Government of India
is taking several steps such as the Van Mahatsov programme, planting new tress every year etc. Moreover, the Government has also taken various steps to spread awareness about the need for conservation and has educated the general civilians about the several measures that need to be adopted in order to protect the natural vegetation in India.