Our planet earth is a home to millions of living beings. From micro-organisms and bacteria, lichens to banyan trees, elephants, and blue whales, there is a vast multitude of living organisms found on the earth. Sadly, the human beings today have transformed the nature and wildlife into a resource.
They obtain different products directly and indirectly from the forests and wildlife such as wood, barks, leaves, rubber, medicines, dyes, food, fuel, fodder, manure, etc. which depleted our forests and wildlife.
As said by Gandhiji, ‘The world has enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.’ Despite knowing and understanding this truth, we do not put it into practice. As a result of this, our natural resources are at a constant risk of depletion. So, here we’ll study about forest and wildlife in particular. Let’s find out more about Forest and Wildlife Resources.
Flora and Fauna in India
India is said to be one of the world’s richest countries in terms of the biological diversity. It has more than 8 percent of the total number of species in the world that is estimated to be 1.6 million.
Unfortunately, 10 percent of India’s recorded wild flora and 20 percent of its mammals are today on the threatened list. Moreover, many are even categorized as ‘critical’, that is on the verge of extinction like the cheetah, pink-headed duck etc.
Classification of Species
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has classified plants and animals in order of existence
- Normal Species: This includes species whose population levels are considered to be normal for their survival, such as cattle, sal, pine, rodents, etc. They are thus, called the normal species.
- Endangered Species: This includes species which are in danger of extinction, hence called the endangered species. For example, black buck, crocodile, Indian wild ass etc.
- Vulnerable Species: This includes species whose population has declined to levels from where it is likely to move into the endangered category in the near future. For examples, blue sheep, Asiatic elephant, Gangetic dolphin, etc.
- Rare Species: This includes species with a small population. They might move into the endangered or vulnerable category if right measures aren’t taken. For example, Himalayan brown bear, wild Asiatic buffalo, desert fox, and hornbill, etc.
- Endemic Species: This includes species which are only found in some particular areas that are usually isolated by natural or geographical barriers. For example, Andaman Teal, Nicobar pigeon, Andaman wild pig, Mithun in Arunachal Pradesh.
- Extinct Species: Furthermore, there are some extinct species. This includes species which are not found after searches of known or likely areas where they may occur. For example, the Asiatic cheetah, pink head duck etc.
- Causes of depletion of the flora and fauna
There are a number of factors which have led to the depletion of flora and fauna. These include:
- Shifting cultivation
- Large-scale development projects
- Grazing and fuel-wood collection
Reasons for a Decline in India’s Biodiversity
Some of the reasons that have led to a decline in the biodiversity of India are:
- Forest fires
- Habitat destruction
- Environmental Pollution
Conservation of Forest and Wildlife in India
Conservation is necessary to preserve the ecological diversity and our life support systems such as air, water, and soil. In response to the conservationist’s demand, The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act came into action in the year 1972. This act provided several provisions for protecting habitats.
The primary agenda of the programme was to protect the remaining population of certain endangered species by banning hunting, giving legal protection to their habitats, and restricting trade in wildlife. For this, the central and the state governments established different national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
The central government has also come up with different projects for protecting specific animals, which were gravely threatened, including the tiger, the one-horned rhinoceros, and others. In the year 1973, Government of India, came up with the Project Tiger to save the endangered species of tiger in the country.
Under the Wildlife Act of 1980 and 1986, several hundred butterflies, moths, beetles, and one dragonfly have been added to the list of protected species. In the year 1991, plants were also added to the list.
Types and Distribution of Forest and Wildlife Resources
In our country, the majority of forest and wildlife resources are either owned or managed by the government. This is done by the Forest Department or other government departments. Forests are usually divided into following categories:
- Reserved Forests: As far as the conservation of forest and wildlife resources are concerned, these are believed to be most valuable. Hence, known as the reserved forests. It covers half of the total forest land.
- Protected Forests: Such forests land is protected from any further depletion. Thus, these are called the protected forests. About -third of the total forest area is protected forest.
- Unclassed Forests: Finally, there were the unclassed forests. This includes the other forests and wastelands belonging to both government and private individuals and communities. Since they weren’t classed or categorized, they got the name unclassed forests.
Question for you
Q1. What was the Chipko Movement?
Ans. Chipko Movement was the movement that was launched by the people of the Himalayas as their fight against deforestation. In this movement, people stood hugging the trees, hence it gets the name, ‘Chipko’ Movement.