2020 October 01 Thursday
ചെയ്യേണ്ടത് ചെയ്യാതിരിക്കുന്നതും ചെയ്യരുതാത്തത് ചെയ്യുന്നതും ഒരുപോലെ തെറ്റാണ് -തിരുക്കുറള്‍

FORESTS – THE LUNGS OF THE EARTH

 

 

SHAKKIR THOTTIKKAL

Forests are areas marked by the thick growth of trees, plants and weeds. The term ‘forest” literally means an area having a high density of trees and it has nothing to do with ‘wild’. It is the presence of numerous wild animals that render forests feral or world. The term takes its origin from the Latin word ‘forests’ which means ‘wood outside’.
TYPES OF FORESTS
The very word ‘forest’ reminds us a piece of land densely packed with trees or vegetation. Forests are generally classified by the nature of the trees they comprise and the climate of their region. Our forests are as varied as the pine forests of the Himalayas and the coastal mangrove swamps.
RAIN FORESTS :
Rainforests are home to millions of species of plants, insects and micro-organisms although they occupy only 6% of the earth. Around 50% of all biotic species inhabit in these forests. The tropical rain forests of India receive up to 3000 mm of rainfall per annum. The temperature is generally between 30°C and 35°C. These forests generally have 4 layers of different kinds of plant life the emergent, the canopy, the understory and the forest floor. The uppermost layer of the rainforest known as the emergent layer has trees that are as tall as 40-50metres that emerge from the second layer of canopy like an umbrella. As the forest floor gets very little sunlight, it has less of small plants and more of climbers and creepers. Around 400 species of trees are found in a hectare of rainforest.
DESTRUCTION OF RAIN
FORESTS
Rainforests are known as ‘the lungs of the earth.’ The rich flora 11 of the rainforests contributes to around 40% of the earth’s oxygen and 25% of drugs manufactured worldwide. The African rainforests alone are home to around 2 lakhs of aborigines. Even then, around 2000 big trees of these forests are felled every minute worldwide! An area of rainforest the Size of a football ground is destroyed every second! The fate of the Amazon rainforest is no different!
AMAZON FORESTS
The Amazon River originates in the Andes Mountains and flows 6400 km east to enter the Atlantic Ocean. The forests along the coast of this South American river are rainforests. The centre of the Amazon rainforest is the Amazonia National Park in Brazil which comprises 10000 sq.ft. The Amazon rainforest occupies around 70 lakhs sq.km and is known for its biodiversity. Around one lakh ton of plants are found in just 1 sq.km of these forests. The rich fauna of the region boasts of 25 lakhs species of insects, 2000 species of birds and 3000 species of fishes while its rich flora include as many as 40000 types of plants.
INDIAN FORESTS
India is one of the 17 mega diverse countries in the world, thanks to its bio diverse forests of the eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats. According to a 2010 study report of the Forest Survey of India, the country has 6 crores and 85 lakhs of hectares of forests. They are mainly classified into 6 types—Moist Tropical, Dry Tropical, Montane Sub Tropical, Montane Temperate, Sub Alpine and Scrub forests.
KERALA FORESTS
Kerala is blessed with the rich rainforests of the Western Ghats which make it a biodiversity hot spot. These forests cover an area of 11584 sq.km. They include the Nilgiri and Agastyamala Biosphere Reserves, 5 national parks and 16 wildlife sanctuaries, covering about 29.8% of land in the state. UNESCO has conferred World Heritage status to these forests. They diverse in nature and are of different types.
WET EVERGREEN
FORESTS
These are forests found on mountain slopes that receive more than 2000 mm of rainfall in a year. The biota of the region is similar to that of the rainforests. These forests are home to a wide variety of birds, plants and reptiles. eg: Silent Valley and Gavi regions.
SEMI EVERGREEN
FORESTS
These are forests that receive 1500-2000 mm of rainfall every year. The trees in the region are broad-leaved and grow to a height of 30-40 m. They are also found in evergreen forest regions. Kerala has more of semi-evergreen forests.
MOIST DECIDUOUS
FORESTS
These forests receive an annual rainfall up to 1000 mm and have trees that shed foliage annually. The leaves are shed before the winter sets in. These forests are rich with green pastures which account for the diverse animal life of the region.
DRY DECIDUOUS
FORESTS
These are rain shadow forests along the eastern slopes of Anamala hills. The trees found in the region tend to shed their leaves annually while the forest floor has thorny plants and bushes. Gooseberry, sandalwood and rosewood grow abundantly in this region.
GRASS LANDS
Grassland of Kerala are generally found on mountain slopes that are 1500 m above the ground level. They have several species of grass that grow less than 1 m in height and also shrubs like Kurinji (Stobilanthes Kunthiana). The grasslands are blessed with more snowfall than rains and are home to several species of reptiles and tahrs.
SHOLA FORESTS
These are patches of forests found in valleys of mountain ranges among rolling montane grasslands. They have an upper storey of several rare species of small trees and are home to sparrows and a huge number of animals.
REED BRAKES
Dense growth of reed brakes enriches the banks of various rivers in our forests. They provide an important means of livelihood to the native tribal people living in the forests areas. They also protect the river banks and form a staple food for the elephants.
MYRISTICA SWAMPS
These are a type of fresh water swamp forest marked by the thick growth of myristica trees. The trees are evergreen and water tolerant in nature with dense stilt roots that help them remain erect in the swamps. This vanishing ecosystem can be seen in the Kulathupuzha forest ranges.
SANDAL FORESTS
Marayoor in Idukki district is the only place in Kerala that has natural sandal forests. The sandalwood factory of the State Forest Department is located here. Products like oil, medicine, perfumes etc are made from sandalwood.

MANGROVE  FORESTS

Mangroves are various types of trees that grow in saline coastal swampy areas. There are more than 60 species of mangrove trees. As these trees can grow both on land and in swamps, they are amphibious in nature. Mangroves dominated the coastlines of all major port cities of the world in the past which included New York and Kochi. The rich shore liners of mangroves in Kerala have now been reduced to more 17 sq.m. The biggest nangrove forest in the world is the Sunderbans in Bengal.

SACRED GROVES

A grove is a small group of trees that grow together with hardly any other plants underneath. These miniatures of forests are known for their biodiversity.
Iringole Kavu in Perumbavur is the biggest of its kind in kerala. Many wildlife sanctuaries of Northern India are considered sacred and hence classified as sacred groves.

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