Protecting Our Forest Wealth
TerraGreen|October 2020
Protecting Our Forest Wealth
India’s Vegetation and Biodiversity Hotspots
N Kalyani

Protection of our forests and green cover is as much about creating awareness in and sensitizing people as legislation. India is blessed with many different types of forests, thanks to the country’s biogeographic diversity. In this article, N Kalyani introduces the various vegetation and biodiversity hotspots found in the country. She also shares views of some renowned conservationists in this regard.

India is a country rich in forests and biodiversity. India ranks among the world’s top 12 mega biodiversity countries. India is blessed with many different types of forests thanks to the country’s biogeographic diversity. The biogeographic areas found in India are the Himalayas, north-east region, northwest region, Gangetic plains, central India, Peninsular India, Western Ghats, Nilgiris-Palni, Deccan, Eastern Ghats, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The diversity of biogeographic areas in its turn makes for a great variety of flora and fauna.

There are 16 major types of vegetation found in India. And this includes a whole diverse range: tropical and temperate forests; deciduous and evergreen species; thorn and alpine forests; wet and dry vegetation types. According to the website of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change: ‘As per India State of Forest Report (ISFR), 2017 total forest and tree cover is 802,088 sq. km which is 24.39 per cent of total geographical area of India.’

Forests are nature’s invaluable treasure houses of vital ecological significance. Forest habitats are home to varied floral and faunal diversity. Diverse species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects live in forest habitats. As the biologist, naturalist and conservationist, Dr AJT Johnsingh, who has travelled the entire Western Ghats, on foot, and other forest areas across India, puts it, ‘In spite of having the second highest human and cattle population in the world, with about 20 per cent of people living below the poverty line, India, a mega biodiversity country, supports the highest number of tigers, Asian elephants, greater one-horned rhinos, a large number of mountain ungulates, and the only population of Asiatic lions.’

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October 2020