India is a land of large variety of natural vegetation. Himalayan heights are marked with mountane vegetation, the Western Ghats and the Andaman Nicobar islands have tropical rain forests, the delta regions have tropical forests and mangroves, the desert area are known for a wide variety of bushes and thorny vegetation. Types of forests:
- Tropical Evergreen forest
- Tropical Deciduous forest
- Tropical Thorn forest
- Mountane forests
- Littoral and Swamp forests
Tropical evergreen forest
They are found in Western ghats, hills of Northeastern region and the Andaman and Nicobar Island. They are found in warm and humid areas with an annual rainfall of over 200 cm and mean annual temperature above 22°C. These forests appear green throughout the year.
Tropical Deciduous forests
These type of forests are found in large area in India. They grow in the region where rainfall is between 79-200cm. They are also known as monsoon forest. On the basis of the availability of water, these forests are further divided into moist and dry deciduous.
- Moist Deciduous forest: The moist deciduous forests are grown where the rainfall is not n between 100-200 cm. These forests are found in the northeastern states along the foothills of Himalayas, eastern slopes of the Western ghats and orissa. Teak, sal, shisham, hurra, mahua, amla, semul, kusum and sandalwood etc. are the main species of these forests.
- Dry Deciduous forest: The dry deciduous forests covers large area of country, where rainfall ranges between 70-100cm. These forests are found in rainier areas of the Peninsula and the plains of Utter Pradesh and Bihar. As the dry season start, the trees shed their leaves completely. Tendu, Palas, Amaktas, Bel, Axlewood etc are the common trees of these forests.
Tropical thorn Forest
Tropical thorn forests occur in the areas which receive rainfall less than 50 cm. These consist of a variety of shrubs. They are found in south west Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Plants remain leafless for most part of the year. Important plants found in this Forest are babool, bar, and wild date palm, khair, neem, khejri, palas, etc
The decrease in temperature with increasing altitude leads to change iin natural vegetation in mountain areas. The Himalayan ranges have Vegetation from Tropical to the tundra, with change of altitude. Deciduous forests are found in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Littoral and Swamp forests
India has a rich variety of wetland habitats. About 70 per cent of this comprises areas under paddy cultivation. The total area of wet land is 3.9 million hectares. In India, the mangrove forests spread over 6,740 sq. km which is 7 per cent of the world's mangrove forests. They are highly developed in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Sunderbans of West Bengal. Other areas are the Mahanadi, the Godavari and the Krishna deltas. The country's wetlands have been grouped into eight categories, which are the Deccan Plateau in the south together with the lagoons and other wetlands of the southern west coast, the vast saline expanses of Rajasthan, Gujarat and the Gulf of Kachchh, freshwater lakes and reservoirs from Gujarat eastwards through Rajasthan (Keoladeo National Park) and Madhya Pradesh, the delta wetlands and lagoons of India’s east coast (Chilika Lake), the freshwater marshes of the Gangetic Plain, the floodplains of the Brahmaputra, the marshes and swamps in the hills of northeast India and the Himalayan foothills, the lakes and river: of the montane region of Kashmir and Ladakh, and the mangrove forest and other wetland, of the island arcs of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Forest in India
According to the National Forest Policy, the minimum desired area which is considered safe for a tropical country like India is about 33%. At present, about 20.64% India is covered with forests. Madhya Pradesh has the largest area under forests followed by Arunachal, Chhattisgarh, Orissa. As per percentage of forest area to total area, first is Andaman and Nicobar Islands, followed by Mizoram, Manipur, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachala Pradesh, Tripura and Nagaland. The lowest forest percentage is in Haryana and Punjab, because of the extensive agriculture.