India, with its vast expanse, showcases a rich array of natural vegetation, a direct manifestation of its diverse climatic conditions. This diversity, rooted in variations in temperature and precipitation, plays a pivotal role in shaping the country’s ecological landscape.
Factors responsible for diversity of Natural Vegetation in India
1. Physiographic factors
(a) Altitude: Lower areas have rain forests in Kerala and upper reaches have temperate sholas.
(b) Aspect: Southern slopes of Himalayas have dense forest as well as tree line upto higher altitude compared to northern slopes.
(c) Leeward-Windward side: windward side of western ghats have tropical evergreen and leeward side has deciduous vegetation.
2. Climate-related factors: Temperature and precipitation are the major factors. Areas of high rainfall and high temperature like western Kerala and Andaman Islands have evergreen forests. Western Rajasthan having high aridity has xerophytic vegetation.
3. Soil variations: Edaphic factors like silt and clayey soil having good organic matter better supports the growth of mangroves as compared to sandy soils. E.g Bhitarkanika and Sundarban.
4. Photoperiod: Longer duration of sunlight promotes dense vegetation.
Significance wildlife sanctuaries in rainforest regions of India: India has rich rainforests in the Western Ghats, Northeast and A&N islands. These regions are rich in biodiversity and have been included in the Global Biodiversity Hotspots.
- Conservation of flora and fauna as these have endemism. Ex. Lion Tail Macaque etc.
- Water conservation and groundwater recharge.
- Carbon sequestration
- Soil conservation
- Forest Resources ex. Minor Forest Produce (Ex. Honey) , medicinal plants (Arogyapacha used for cancer treatment found in Neyyar WLS)
- Research & Development
- Tourism and local employment generation8. Protection of tribal and indigenous culture eg Kani tribes.
Thus, protected areas like wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are essential to protect the virgin forests and protect the rich natural vegetation of India. Globally, India has committed to protect 30% land and ocean area under protected area network. Thus, India should gradually aim to expand the network of protected areas.