Coniferous Forests and Tundra Region UPSC Notes | EduRev

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UPSC : Coniferous Forests and Tundra Region UPSC Notes | EduRev

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Coniferous Forests
• Location: The region of coniferous forests is found only in Northern Hemisphere. 
• It is situated between 55°N and 7°N latitude and is bordered by the Temperate Grasslands in the South and Tundra Region in the North.

Areas
• Asia: Coniferous forests belt is found here in Northern Siberia.
• Europe: In northern Europe coniferous forest belt stretches over northern part of European Russia, Poland, Finland and Sweden.
• North America: Coniferous Forest Region extends in northern Canada from Labrador coast to the eastern boundary of Alaska.
• The ‘Coniferous Forest Belt’ has greatest extent in the northern part of Eurasia. 
• Therefore this cold temperate Central-type Region of coniferous forests is popularly known as ‘Taiga’, which is a Russian word for coniferous forests.

Natural Environments
Climate: The Siberian type of climate is conspicuous in having very long winters and brief summers. The winters are bitterly cold and even summers are cool (far from being warm). Temperatures are generally below freezing point during the long winters. The January temperatures are as low as 45°C.

  • It is still lowered by northerly polar winds (Blizzards of Canada & Buran of Eurasia). The average temperature of the warmest month seldom rises above 15°C.

The annual ranges of temperature are generally great. Verkhoyansk is Siberian station, where the record of minimum temperature is –50° C. On account of such a low record of temperature, which is even lower than the Polar Region, ‘Verkhoyansk’ is known as ‘Cold Pole of the Earth’.

  • The average annual rainfall is between 25 cms to 75 cms. During the winters precipitation is received in the form of snow-fall, because winter temperatures are generally below freezing point.
  • Most of the precipitation is, however, received during summer months from June to September.

Natural Vegetation. The Taiga Region is a region where precipitation is received throughout the year. There is, infact, no month without some form of moisture. Although the average annual rainfall is below medium, yet even the small amount of precipitation is more than sufficient for tree-growth.

  • The trees have to face the bitter cold and icy winds. Nature has, therefore, imparted adaptability to these trees.
  • They have developed needle-shaped leaves, which are very tough, so that they can easily endure the biting cold and gusts of chilly winds.
  • These trees are called coniferous trees. The branches spread towards the ground so that the trees attain conical shapes tapering upward. 
  • This facilitate the snows to slide down during a snowfall. The important trees of the coniferous variety, that usually grow here, are pine, fir, spruce and larch. Pine trees are of several varieties, namely white pine, Red-pine, Jack-pine, Scots-pine, Lodge-pole-pine etc. Similarly, fir trees are also of several varieties, among which Balsam Fir and Douglas Fir are the most important.
  • The coniferous forests are generally of moderate density.
  • There is no under-growth.
  • Species of trees are very limited.
  • Pure stands.
  • Taiga forests are evergreen forests.
  • The leaves of coniferous trees are needle-shaped.
  • The trees are conical in shape.

Native animals: Animals of several species are found in the coniferous forest region. There are some special characteristics, which are commonly found in the native animals.

  •  These help them adapt to the natural environments.
  • The animals are generally of white colour. White colour reduces radiation.  Most of the animals develop heavy pelt, which is useful for conservation of heat.  Native animal life may be classified into several groups:
  • Fur-bearing animals e.g., Beaver, Otter, Squirrel, Fox, Sable Marten, Mink, Ermine, Badger, Wolverine, Racoon, Lynx, Muskrat etc.
  • Forest-browsers, e.g., Caribou, Reindeer, Elk, Moose etc.
  • Bears: They are of different colours and varieties, e.g., Black bear, Brown-bear and Grizzly-bear.
  • Insects: Black-flies Gnats and Mosquitoes.
  • Fish: Fresh-water fish and Salt-water fish.
  • Birds, e.g., Wood pecker, Grosbeak, Grouse etc.
  • Migratory birds: Many birds of the South visit this region during short seasons of spring and summer. They go back at the advent of winters.


Cultural Environments
• The coniferous forest-region is not a favourable region for population-concentration. 
• Most of the area is covered by forests and marshes. the climatic environments are not hospitable.
• These regions are, however, potential areas for supply of several economic products. 
• The most important economic product of this region is wood. It is fortunately a valuable variety, because these are soft woods, which are commercially very valuable.
• Lumbering is, therefore, the predominant occupation of this region.

Urban Centres: Although the Taiga-region is an area of sparse population, yet certain very important towns have developed here as trade-centres and industrial centres. 
• A few important towns of Soviet Russia and Canada need mention. Leningrad, Murmansk, Verkhoyansk, Stockholm and Fair banks.

Tundra Region
•  Location: Tundras are Cold deserts, which are situated roughly beyond 65° north latitudes. Summer Isotherms of 10°C and 0°C roughly denote the limits of Tundras.

Areas
•  N. America: Northern Coastal region of Alaska and Canada, as also then group of islands located near by the coastal fringe of Greenland.
•  Europe: Northern Scandinavia, Iceland, Spitsbergan islands, northern coastal region of European Russia.
•  Asia: Northern coastal region of Siberia

Natural Environments
Climate
•  Very low mean annual temperature. Winters are long and very severe, while summers are very short and cool.
•  The surface is normally covered with snow for 9 to 10m months, because temperatures are usually as low as –40°C. For weeks together there is a continuous darkness.
•  Rainfall is very light. The average annual rainfall is hardly 25 cms. Rain generally falls in the form of a drizzle and is received mainly in summers. In the winters if there is any precipitation, it is the form of a light snowfall, which is drifted away by strong and gusty winds.

Natural Vegetation
•  In Tundras three types of vegetation are found growing. Most of them the Xerophytic, because water is not available on account of frozen environment.
•  Bush-tundra—This vegetation type includes dwarf trees, which look like scrubby bushes, namely Alders, Birches, Willows and Junipers. Sometimes they take a creeping form and cover the ground by a network of their branches.
•  Grass-tundra—This includes a special type of grass, namely Moss, Lichen and Sedge. Grass-tundra is such a hardy vegetation that it thrives with minimum possible moisture and can survive any amount of cold, so much so that it remains alive even beneath the snow-cover.
•  Flowering plants—During summers some flowering plants suddenly appear. They grow, display their colourful sight and diedown. 
•  Poppies, Lillies, Buttercups and Violets are the flowering plants. Some berry-bushes also grow during summer season along with the flowering plants, but they are also very short-lived.

Native Animals
•  Mainland Animals: The most important animals of this class are the Reindeer and the Caribou.
•  Marine Animals: The Arctic seas are teeming with varied life. There are the seamonsters, namely seals, walruses and whales. Then there are a great variety of fish, e.g., Salmon, Halibut, Herring, Cod etc. 
•  They provide food and fat to the inhabitants in large quantities and they signify the nature’s bounties for man in this barren and desolate region.
•  Insects: This group includes millions and millions of mosquitoes and insects. They are probably useless. On the other hand, they may render life hell.

Cultural Environments
•  The Tundra Region is inhabited by primitive people, who lead a semi-nomadic life.
•  They are either hunters and fishermen, namely the Eskimos of North American Tundras, or they are the hunters and trappers, just as the Eskimos of Greenland.
 

 WORLD INDUSTRY
 Name of the IndustryMajor Producing Country
1Iron and SteelUSA, Germany, Russia
2Cotton textileUSA, Germany, Russia
3RubberMalaysia, Indonesia & Thailand
4Synthetic RubberUSA, Germany, Japan
5Woollen textileAustralia, Russia
6Silk textilesChina, Japan
7Micro electronicsJapan, USA
8Ship BuildingUSA, Japan
9AutomobileUSA, Japan
10Pulp & PaperCanada & USA
11Newsprint PaperUSA & Canada
12Petroleum ProductsUSA, Germany & Japan
13Television ReceiversJapan, USA
14CementRussia, Japan
15Heavy ChemicalsUSA, Germany
16Synthetic fibresUSA, Germany
17AircraftUSA, Russia
18LocomotivesUSA, United Kingdom
19AluminiumCanada, United Kingdom
20NewsprintCanada, USA
21Wood PulpUSA, Canada
22Sawn wood ProductsRussia, USA
23CorkSpain, Portugal

•  The Lapps of the Scandinavian Tundras are slightly more cultured and they are mainly the reindeer-herders and fishermen.
•  The Siberian tundra-dwellers are the Samoyeds, the Yakuts and the Chuckchis. All of them are hunters and fishermen.
•  The important characteristics of the mode of life of Tundra-dwellers are the following:
•  The Tundra-dwellers are sturdy people with black eyes and black hair.
•  Their yellowish skin indicates that they might form the Mongoloid race.
•  They are basically meat-eaters and that too in raw form. They also consume fat in good amounts for keeping warm and agile. 
•  They also use reindeer-milk. Reindeer is their cow.
•  Their dress is a closefit dress made chiefly from seal-skin or furs. Dresses of men and women are very much the same.
•  Their dwellings are of various types, according to region and season. In winters they build rounded dwellings from ice blocks. These dwellings are called ‘Igloos’.
•  Tundra-dwellers are primarily the hunters. They use several types of weapons for the purpose.
•  Reindeer supplies them all their needs of food, clothing and transport. The Lapps of Scandinavia and Finland belong to the group of reindeer-herders.
•  Sledges are very suitable means of transport on snowy surfaces. Boats are used on water-bodies. They may be small just as the ‘Kayak’ which is made of a wooden framework covered by seal skin. They may be large just as ‘Umiak’. This is also made from wood and skin.
 

Recent Developments: Several developments have been witnessed recently and they have given a somewhat new look to the Tundras and their dwellers.
•  They are not that much traditional now. A change has come, which has inspired them to shake off a life of privation and to welcome contacts with the advanced and cultured people of the neighbouring regions.
•  The Tundra-dwellers now visit the neighbouring towns for employment or for trading.
•  The rifle has replaced the old fashioned harpoon.
•  The seal-skin tents are being replaced by canvas tents, which are water-proof.
•  The kerosene lamps have replaced the seal-fat wickers for light.
•  Reindeer-farms are replacing reindeer-herding.
•  Fur-farms are replacing trapping of fur-bearing animals.
•  Glass-house cultivation has been introduced for growing vegetables with the adoption of scientific methods.

Tundra Dwellers
•  Tundras are the regions, where cultivation is very scarce, because environment is very inhospitable.
•  Among the primitive races of the Tundras, Eskimos are the most prominent. 
•  They are scattered on a very extensive area over the Northern part of North America and the coastal fringe of Greenland. 
•  Among other primitive races, the Lapps are found in northern Scandinavia and Finland. 
•  Siberian Tundra is a very vast expanse of barren snowy land inhabited by the Samoyeds, the Yakuts, and the Chuckchis.

The Eskimos
•  They are found in Greenland, Northern Canada and Alaska State of USA. The Eskimos are robust and sturdy people with black eyes and black hair.
•  They are probably from Mongoloid race as suggested by their yellowish complexion.
•  They are very laborious and hardy people ready to fight with the inhospitable environments for making the best out of the worst and live a contented life.
•  The most important natural resource best-owed to them is the native animal life. It may be classified into two most important groups:
•  The land animals, namely caribou, reindeer, musk ox, polar bear, Arctic foxes, Arctic hare etc.
•  The Marine animals, namely seal, whale, walrus, various cold water fishes, ducks, geese, etc.
•  During winters the Eskimos prefer to remain indoor for most of the time. Therefore they build semi-permanent dwellings with snow-blocks. These rounded dwellings of snow are called ‘Igloos’.
•  During summers they use different kinds of boats (Kayaks and Umaiks) over the water bodies. On land they use ‘sledges’ drawn by caribou, reindeer or huskies (dogs). 

The Lapps
•  They are the residents of the northern areas of Norway, Sweden and Finland. They were originally very much like the Eskimos and used to live a semi-nomadic life.
•  But they have now much changed. In fact, they are necessarily much higher than the Eskimos in cultural advancement. Instead of being hunters, they are the herders and the fishermen.
•  The Lapps are very expert fishermen. They go fishing on the Arctic waters on Kayaks and Umiaks.
•  The Lapps seek employment as lumber-jacks in the coniferous forests. They may also prefer to work as factory workers in the cities.

The Samoyeds
•  They are one of the primitive races of Siberian Tundra-dwellers. They are hunters and fishermen. 
•  Their mode of life is semi-nomadic.
•  They are generally on the move in search of game on Land or Sea.

The Yakuts
•  They reside towards the north-east of Trans-Baikal Region on the lowlands of Bena river.
•  They are also primitive hunters and live a nomadic life. The climate is inhospitable, there-fore, they prefer to remain indoors for the most part of winters. ‘Igloos’ are their favourite homes. 
•  They hunt reindeers and catch or kill seals and walruses.

The Chuckchis
•  They inhabit the north-eastern part of the Siberian Tundra.
•  They are nomadic hunters and are generally on the move chasing their game. They also catch fish, seals and walruses.
•  Raw-meat is their normal diet and reindeer-skin garments are their clothings.
•  They have begun to change on being patronised by the Russian settlers. Reindeer farms are being started for reindeer-herds.

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