Types of Forest in India | Classification, Importance, Benefits

TYPES OF FOREST IN INDIA

The growing scale of deforestation has lead to an upsurge in the concerns for the forests in India. Various measures are laid out to combat the elevating issue. There are various types of forest in India.

The menace is pondering over different types of forests present in the territory.

This article intends to take you through the types of forest in India. For a better understanding, we have included the characteristics, biodiversity, geographical locations, and types of each type of forest present in India.

For you to develop a better knowledge base on the topic, we have included other information on forests as well such as their importance, needs, benefits, current situation, and more. Get along with us and explore.

How many types of forests are there in India?

India has diversity in its natural vegetation which can be experienced through the various types of forests available here.

Under broad classification, there are five major types of forests identified in India.

They are based and classified on certain characteristics like geographical location, dominant natural vegetation, climatic regions, rainfall, and more.

What is a forest?

Forest refers to a complex ecosystem that predominantly consists of trees, shrubs, and generally, a closed canopy. They act as the storehouse of a diverse variety of flora and fauna.

They also home an abundance of microorganisms and fungi, which are crucial for the decomposition cycle which enriches the soil.

  • Nearly, 30% of the total Earth’s land surface is covered by forests. The percentage refers to around 4 billion hectares of forest cover.
  • Another implication of the word ‘forest’ is natural vegetation of an area which has existed for thousands of years and supports a variety of biodiversity. This eventually forms a complex ecosystem.
  • Forests are crucial for the planet, global climate, animals and humans beings as well. They provide various natural services and products. Moreover, they have a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance and have its contribution to the economy also.

Forest Classification

Forests can be classified in various ways. The types of the forest depend upon the abiotic factors like the soil characteristic and the climate of the region.

The classification can be based on the nature of tree species or the most abundant tree species present.

However, forests in India are broadly classified as follows:-

Coniferous Forests

Most abundantly found in the Himalayan Mountain region where the temperature conditions are cool and low.

The trees in such forests characteristically are Tall with needle-like leaves and downward-sloping branches. This makes it convenient for the snow to slip off the branches.

Broad-leaved Forests

The trees found here usually have large leaves which have various shapes. They are abundantly found in the middle to lower latitudes.

There are several types of broad-leaved forests such as evergreen forests, deciduous forests, thorn forests, and mangrove forests.

The major types of forests found in India are as follows:-

  • Tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests
  • Tropical deciduous forests
  • Tropical thorn forests
  • Montane forests
  • Littoral and swamp forests

However, India has a diverse range of forests. On further sub-division, there are 16 types of forests that are identified in India.

What are the types of forests in India?

Get the details on the characteristics, climate, location and flora and fauna of the different types of forests found in India. Know more about the forests through the sub-divisions of them.

Tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests

types of forest in India

Also known as tropical rainforests, these forests form a dominant part of the natural vegetation in India. They have abundant rainfall and are evergreen as they experience no period of drought.

Characteristics

  • Tropical evergreen forests experience nearly 200 centimeters of rainfall
  • They have a temperature ranging from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius
  • The trees are dense and experience intensive growth
  • These forests are mostly found near the equatorial regions 

Flora and Fauna

The major plant and animal species found in Tropical evergreen forests are as follows:-

PlantsAnimals
Ebony Mahogany Rosewood Sandal Wood Garjan Bamboo Rubber ChinchonaElephants Monkeys Lemur Bats Sloths Deer One-horned Rhino Scorpions Snails

Geographical Location

Tropical evergreen or tropical rainforests are found in the eastern and western slopes of the Western Ghats.

The major states where they are identified are Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Tropical deciduous forests

tropical deciduous  forests

Also, known as monsoon forests, tropical deciduous forests are one among the widely spread forests in the country. They are divided into two types and homes a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Characteristics

  • One of the most widespread forests in India
  • Have an average rainfall between 70 to 200 cms
  • The trees in tropical deciduous forest shed their leaves in dry summer for six to eight weeks
  • Divided into two types based on rainfall
  • The leaves which are shed during the summer regrow during the monsoons season

Types

Tropical deciduous forests are divided into the following two types:-

Tropical moist deciduous forest

  • Found in regions with rainfall between 100 to 200 cms
  • Due to lack of moisture, trees shed their leaves during dry summer and dry winters

Tropical dry deciduous forest

  • Found in regions with rainfall between 70 to 100 cms
  • The trees have the tendency to regrow in less moisture area as well
  • There is a solid growth of grass and climber plants
  • The trees shed their leaves during summers making it appear like a vast grassland with naked trees

Flora and Fauna

The major plant and animal species found in Tropical deciduous forests are as follows:-

PlantsAnimals
Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests -Teak Sal Sheshum Amla Mahua Kusum Sandalwood bamboo

Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests – Khair Laurel Amaltas Tendu Palas Axlewood Bel
Wolves Bears-Lions Bobcats Deer Moose Raccoons Skunks Jays Woodpeckers Robins Frogs Rat Snakes Carpenter Bees

Geographical Location

Tropical deciduous forests are predominantly found in the eastern part of India. In the eastern region, they are found in the North-eastern states, foothills of Himalayas, Jharkhand, West Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

Also, they are found on the eastern slope of the Western Ghats. They have their presence in the rainier regions of the peninsula and the plains of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Must Read:- Different types of Soil in India

Tropical thorn forests

Thorn forests

Thorn Forests are a type of desert formation which has scrub-like vegetation.

They are mostly tropical and subtropical forests having trees and plants with armed thorns and spines.

Thorn forests experience very little rainfall and are prevalent in the arid regions.

Characteristics

  • Thorn forests are prevalent in areas which experience an annual rainfall of less than 70 cm
  • The trees found here are short, stunted and scattered
  • The leaves of the trees and shrubs found have thick and small leaves which helps in minimizing evaporation
  • Vegetation in thorn forests have long roots to penetrate deep into the soil to search and fetch water
  • It experiences very long and hot summer season
  • The plants are leafless for the majority part of the year and are scattered
  • Humidity conditions are less than 5 per cent
  • The general length of the trees ranges between 6 to 10 metres, which is low as compared to other forms of vegetations or forests

Flora and Fauna

The major plant and animal species found in Tropical thorn forests are as follows:-

PlantsAnimals
Palms Acacias Cacti Euphorbias Babool Neem Ber Keekar KhairWolf Rats and Mice Rabbits Fox Tigers and Lions Wild Ass Horses Camels Spotted Dear Tibetan Antelope Wild Sheep

Geographical Location

In India, Thorn forests are found in arid regions which experiences less rainfall of less than 70 cm. The North-western part of India homes the Thorn forests.

They can be found in the semi-arid areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

Montane forests

montane forest

Montane forests are found in mountain or hilly regions with higher altitudes. They have various forms of vegetation which depend on the altitude.

They can deciduous, wet-temperate and temperate in nature.

Characteristics

  • Montane forests are found in the mountainous regions of India
  • Predominantly found in the Northern and Southern parts of the country
  • Found between 1300 to 5300 metres above the sea level
  • Montane forests have low-temperature conditions due to higher altitudes
  • The type of vegetation changes with the change in altitude
  • The nature of the forest varies from altitudes and the flora and fauna as well

Types

There are two types of montane forests found in India. The classification is based on the geographical location and types of vegetation found. They are as follows:-

  • Northern montane forests – Found in the Himalayan region
  • Southern montane forests – Found in the southern hills of western gats, Nilgiri hills and Vindhyas

Flora and Fauna

The major plant and animal species found in montane forests are as follows:

PlantsAnimals
Oak Chestnut Chinar Walnut Blue Pine Silver firs Junipers Rhododendrons Moses Lichens Magnolia Laurel CinchonaKashmir stag Spotted dear Wild sheep Jackrabbit Tibetan antelope Yak Snow leopard Squirrels Shaggy horn Wild ibex Bear Rare red panda Sheep Goats

Geographical Location

Montane forests in India are found in the northern and southern parts of the country. In north India, they are mostly found in the Himalayan region from Jammu and Kashmir or the Purvanchal mountains in the extreme East of the country.

In the southern parts of India, they are found among the Western Ghats, Vindhya Range and the Nilgiri range.

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Littoral and swamp forests

Swamp forests

Also, known as the Wetland forests, these are the forests which are inundated with freshwater. These can be permanently or seasonally based on the geographical location.

Characteristics

  • Littoral forests experience an annual rainfall of over 200 cms
  • The rainfall ranges from 75 to 500 cms depending on the location
  • Have mainly evergreen trees that produce a tangled web of arching roots exposed during low tides
  • Adapted in two conditions: 1. High water salinity and 2. Flooded seasonally or at regular intervals
  • The roots of the trees can be stilt, buttress or pneumatophores.

Types

The littoral or swamp forests can be broadly classified into three types of forests which are as follows:-

Beach forest

Found all along the river deltas or sea beaches, Beach forests have sandy soil with an abundance of lime and salts.

The groundwater found in Beach forests is brackish and has a rainfall of 75 to 500 cms depending upon the geographical location. The temperature conditions are moderate.

Tidal forest

Tidal forests are found in areas that are near the estuaries or the deltas of rivers, along the sea coasts and the swampy Island margins. The soil has silt, silt-loam, and sandy characteristic.

Tidal forests are further sub-divided in four types as follows:-

  • Tree mangrove forests
  • Low mangrove forests
  • Saltwater forests
  • Brackish water forest

Freshwater swamp forest

These forests predominantly grow in low lying areas or latitudes having rain or swollen rainwater collection for some time. The water is found near the surface.

Flora and Fauna

The major plant and animal species found in Littoral and swamp forests are as follows:-

PlantsAnimals
Manilkara littoralis Thespesia Spinifex littoreus Casuarina equisetifolia Pandanus Borassus Cocos nucifera Phoenix Callophyllum littoralis Barringtonia PongamiaTurtles Crocodiles Alligators Snakes

Geographical Location

These forests are found in the regions of abundant rainfall. They are predominantly found in the Deccan Plateau Reservoirs, Gujarat’s saline Coastline, Gulf of Katch, Rajasthan, Kashmiri lakes and rivers, North-east Indian swamps etc.

They are largely found in the Sundarbans Delta, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna Deltas.

Why do we need forests?

Nearly one-third part of the land on earth is covered by forest which supports a major part of the flora and fauna.

However, millions of acres of forests are being cleared every year by humans for various purposes.

Humans have developed the tendency to take the forests for granted and underestimating its need and importance for the planet, human species and other animal and plant species as well.

Explore the reasons why do we need forests and what importance do they hold for us.

  • The primary importance of forest is the pumping out of oxygen which the living organisms on the planet require. Also, they absorb carbon dioxide and serve as a key source of quality air for everyone.
  • Forests are home to millions of animals and plant species. Nearly 90% of the species present on the planet live in the forest.
  • Apart from several animal species, there is an estimate that around 60 million indigenous people have their dependency on the native woodlands. Deforestation or depletion of forests would also lead to trouble for the several tribes living there.
  • The trees present in the forests have a vital role in regulating the temperature of the earth. Trees absorb carbon dioxide which is a Greenhouse gas known to fuel global warming.
  • Forests have the power to influence the weather patterns as well and can create their microclimates.
  • Forests have a wide and strong route network that stabilizes a huge amount of soil which prevents soil erosion by wind or water. This helps in preventing landslides and dust storms.
  • Presently, a huge share of the food we eat comes from the forest. Various fruits, seeds, nuts and sap the humans and animals consume are extracted from the forest.
  • Forests have a prominent role in providing renewable resources that helps us in making paper and furniture for our use. It has led to rapid deforestation and overuse.

What is the percentage of forest cover in India?

As per the announcements made by the Union Minister of Environment of India, the forest cover in India has increased by 3%.

The total forest cover in India is 712,249 square kilometres as per the Biennial State of India’s forest report 2019.

At present, the forest cover in India is 21.67% of the total geographical area with a target to elevate it to 33%.

What is the current situation of forest in India?

It has been made mandatory to assess the forest and tree resources of the country which includes forest cover mapping in a biennial cycle.

Attributing to this, the Forest Survey of India published a report which throws light on the current situation of forests in India.

The report states that the total forest and tree cover in India has risen to 24.56% of the total geographical area of the country.

This means that the cover has increased by more than 13 lakh hectares over the last four years.

According to the report, the total forest and tree cover of the country stands at 80.73 million hectares.

According to the forest cover 2019 report, the very dense forest covers an area of 99,278 square kilometres.

The moderately dense forest covers an area of 308,472 square kilometers. Likewise, the open forests span over an area of nearly 308,000 square kilometers.

According to the report, Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country which is followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Maharashtra.

When considered in terms of forest cover as a percentage of the total geographical area of the states, Mizoram (85.41%) holds the first place followed by Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%), Meghalaya (76.33%), Manipur (75.46%) and Nagaland (75.31%).

Moreover, India is highly committed at the highest levels to meet its commitments made under the nationally determined contributions which are made to the international community at the Paris agreement.

Under this, India has committed to creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes through additional forest and tree cover by the year 2030.

India has achieved a reduction of emission intensity by 21% over a period of 10 years from 2005 to 2014 after the Paris agreement.

This was made possible due to the well-designed policies, programs, measures, and implementation.

Forests have an important role in mitigating and adapting to climate change. They should be preserved for the well being of all the species existing on the planet.

Which are the top 10 types of forests in India with its area?

We have listed down the top 10 types of forest in India based on its area. The top 10 forests in India are as follows:-

Sr. No.Forest nameStateArea (Square km)
1.Gir ForestGujarat1,412
2.SundarbansWest Bengal10,000
3.Vandalur Forest ReserveTamil Nadu1,300
4.Namdapha National ParkArunachal Pradesh1,985.23
5.Jim Corbett National ParkUttarakhand520.8
6.Bandipur National ParkKarnataka874
7.Nilgiri Biosphere ReserveTamil Nadu5,520
8.Kaziranga ForestAssam430
9.Kanha National ParkMadhya Pradesh940
10.Pichavaram Mangrove ForestTamil Nadu1,100

Which are the top 10 types of forest in the World with its area?

We have listed down the top 10 types of forest in the world based on its area. The top 10 forests in the world are as follows:-

Sr. No.Forest nameLocationArea (Square km)
1.TaigaAsia-Europe-North America12,000,000 (Russian Boreal Forest)
2.The Amazon ForestsSouth America2,702,715
3.Congo RainforestAfrica2,023,428
4.Valdivian Temperate RainforestSouth America248,100
5.TongassNorth America68,062
6.SundarbansAsia10,000
7.Xishuangbanna Tropical RainforestAsia2,402
8.Daintree ForestAustralia1,200
9.Kinabalu National ParkAsia754
10.Mindo-Nambillo Cloud ForestSouth America192

Which things do we get from forests?

There are plenty of things which we take into daily use that we get from forests. Timber has been the earliest extraction from forests by human beings.

However, over time the things extracted from forests for our use have increased.

There are many things that can be made from a single thing extracted from the forest like timber and resin which have various applications.

Some of the things are as follows:-

  • Timber for constructions purposes and furniture etc.
  • Fuelwood
  • Food such as fruits, berries, seeds, nuts etc.
  • Latex and resin
  • Wood fibre
  • Wine corks
  • Wax
  • Chocolate (Cocoa beans and pods)

How can we save forests?

Forests are an important part of the ecosystem and without them, life on the planet would be disturbed.

The immensely growing scale of deforestation and desertification has to lead to global climatic changes as well. It is crucial to take steps to save the forests in India as well as around the globe.

  • One of the primary reasons for deforestation is the commercial felling and cutting of trees. A substantial part of the forest is cut down to fulfil these purposes.
  • Regulating and planning the cutting of trees by making and implementing various laws and policies will be helpful.
  • Forest fires are the cause of major destruction or loss of forests worldwide. Latest techniques of firefighting should be adopted to control the fire as soon as possible.
  • Methods of reforestation and afforestation must be adopted. The government should make afforestation policies and programs to increase the forest cover and maintain the eco-balance.
  • Check over forest clearance for habitation or agricultural purposes should be kept. This would ensure the unnecessary clearance of the forest which can be dangerous for the entire ecosystem.
  • Various forest management techniques should be formulated, implemented and monitored such a survey, categorization and use of forests.
  • The adoption of digital currency or digitalization in the major aspects of daily life can lead to a substantial decrease in deforestation. This would be due to the less use of paper for which the forests are cut down.

Adopt the methodologies of 3Rs which are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

  • Education can have a substantial role in saving the forest. Individuals should be taught from a young age to adopt various ways which are eco-friendly and good for the environment.
  • Various actions must be taken to raise awareness amongst the population on saving the forest and their importance in our lives.

Forests build up a vital part of our ecosystem. They should be preserved and allowed to foster at every cost. Only education on the topic will not do all the good. It requires practical applications from our parts as well.

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