Biodiversity of the Indian Desert and it´s Value
Amit Kotia and Ashwani Kumar
Biotechnology Lab, Department of Botany
University of Rajasthan, Jaipur – 302004 INDIA
The state of Rajasthan is situated between 23º3’ and 30º12’ N latitude and 69º30’ and 78º17’ E longitude . The total land area of the state is about 3,24,239 km² , out of which about 1,98,100 km² is arid and the rest semi arid. The physical features are characterized mainly by the Aravallis and to the some extent by the vindhyan formation, and the Deccan trap. A major portion of western Rajasthan has desert soils and sandy plains. Sand dunes occupy a greater part of western Rajasthan ( 1,20, 983 km²). The soils of the desert plains are loamy sand to loam and the eastern part has alluvial soil which supports good forests and agricultural crop. Occurrence of saline soils with pH up to 9.0 is a common feature in the sandy areas of Rajasthan. The average annual rainfall in the state is 525-675 mm, and the annual precipitation in different tracts of Rajasthan varies from 13 mm to 1766 mm. Out of the total area , forests cover only about 37,638 km² and are rich in biodiversity. Rajasthan is rich in biodiversity which has a great economic value. Characterization of different plant species of economic value was undertaken. (Table 1-6).
Out of the total land area of Rajasthan , forest covers only about 37,638 km², i.e. 11 %. This forest includes roughly 7 % of depleted and denuded forests. Biodiversity of Rajasthan is related with the Aravalli hills. Anogeissus pendula Edgew. forests cover more than half of the total forest area in the state. These forests occur on a variety of rock formations on the Aravalli hills. A. pendula Edgew. is also found in the southern region of the Vindhyan formations. It is able to grow on stony, impoverished and shallow soils, and also on a range of sandy loams to clay loam. A. pendula Edgew forms pure stands. It is commonly associated with Diospyros melanoxylon Roxb., Acacia leucophloea Willd., Bauhinia racemosa Lam. And Wrightia tinctoria R. Br. In parts of the Jaipur, Ajmer and Jodhpur districts Acacia Senegal Willd. is common. On the upper slopes , the main species are replaced by Sterculia urens Roxb., Boswellia serrata Roxb. and Lannea coromandelica (Houtt.) Herrill. and along the foothills by Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub. The other species found are Dichrostachys cinerea (L.) Wt. & Arn., Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del., Maytens emerginata (Willd.) D. Hou, Rhus mysurensis Heyne, Securinga leucopyrus (Willd.) Muell. Arg., Grewia flavescens Jurs., G. tenas (Forsk.) Fiori and Lycium barbarum Linn. ( Roy and Kumar , 1987). Acacia catechu Willd. forests are common in the south-eastern regions. e.g. Baran, Jhalawar, Kota, Tonk , Chittorgarh and Alwar. The area under this type is roughly 3 % of the total forest area. (Roy and Kumar , 1995; Kumar and Roy 1996).
The Rajasthan desert has extensive areas of saline soil which can be effectively utilized for biomass production. Notable among the species, including halopytes, which can be raised in this area include Tamarix troupii Hole, Acacia nilotica (L.) Del., Calotropis procera (Ait.) R.Br., Capparis deciduas (Forsk.) Edgew, Salvadora oleoides Decne., Prosopis chilensis
(Molina) Stuntz. These can be raised on soils with lower levels of salinity. Some of the grasses which can be grown are Aeluropus logopoides (L.) Trin. ex Thw., Dactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) P. Beauv., Eleusine compressa (Forsk.) Ascheros. and Schweing and Eragrostis ciliaris (L.) R.Br. (Kumar , 1987.)
The vast sandy tracts which are distributed in the Western and Northern plains of the state, form the dunes and the plain. The dunes are of two type - the embryonic, and the stabilized ones. There is no vegetation on the embryonic dunes except some ephemerals like Gisekia pharnaceoides, Euphorbia prostrata, Mollugo cerviana, Polycarpaea corymbosa and others which are the pioneers. When the...
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