Introduction A forest is a complex ecosystem which is predominantly composed of trees, shrubs and is usually a closed canopy. Forests are storehouses of a large variety of life forms such as plants, mammals, birds, insects and reptiles etc. Also the forests have abundant microorganisms and fungi, which do the important work of decomposing dead organic matter thereby enriching the soil. Nearly 4billion hectares of forest cover the earth’s surface, roughly 30 percent of its total land area.The forest ecosystem has two components- the non-living (abiotic) and the living (biotic) component. Climate, soil type are part of the non-living component and the living component includes plants, animals and other life forms. Plants include the trees, shrubs, climbers, grassesand herbs in the forest. Depending on the physical, geographical, climatic and ecological factors,there are different types of forest like evergreen forest (mainly composed of evergreen treespecies i.e. species having leaves all throughout the year) and deciduous forest (mainly composed of deciduous tree species i.e. species having leaf-fall during particular months of the year). Each forest type forms a habitat for a specific community of animals that are adapted to live in it.The term forest implies ‘natural vegetation’ of the area, existing from thousands of years and supporting a variety of biodiversity, forming a complex ecosystem. Plantation is different from natural forest as these planted species are often of same type and doesn’t support a variety of natural biodiversity. Forests provide various natural services and products. Many forest products are used in day-today life. Besides these, forests play important role in maintaining ecological balance & contributes to economy also.
Ecological Role of Forest:
• Forests provide an environment for many species of plants and animals thus protects and sustains the diversity of nature. • Plants provide habitat to different types of organisms. Birds build their nests on the branches of trees, animals and birds live in the hollows, insects and other organisms live in various parts of the plant. • Forests act as hydrologic flow modulators
• Plants provide a protective canopy that lessens the impact of raindrops on the soil, thereby reducing soil erosion. Roots help to hold the soil in place. They provide shade which prevents the soil to become too dry. Thus increases the soil moisture holding capacity. • Forests help in maintaining microclimate of the area.
• Plants clean the air, cool it on hot days, conserve heat at night, and act as excellent sound absorbers. Transpiration from the forests affects the relative humidity and precipitation in a place. Forests clean the environment by muffling noises, buffering strong winds and stopping dust and gases. • The layer of leaves that fall around the tree prevents runoff and allows the water to percolate into the soil. Thus helping in ground water recharge. • Dead plants decompose to form humus, organic matter that holds the water and provides nutrients to the soil. • Through the process of photosynthesis, forests renew the oxygen supply in the atmosphere by absorbing atmospheric CO2 and moderating the greenhouse effect. As per the report published by Ministry of Environment and Forests during August 2009, the annual CO2 removal by India’s forest and tree cover is enough to neutralize 11.25 % of India’s total GHG emissions (CO2 equivalent) at 1994 levels. This is equivalent to offsetting 100% emissions from all energy in residential and transport sectors; or 40% of total emissions from the agriculture sector. Clearly, India’s forest and tree cover is serving as a major mode of carbon mitigation for India and the world. • Forest cover of an area plays an important role in amount of precipitation received by the area. Thus play an important role in maintaining water...
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