NCERT Textbook Chapter - Forest and Wildlife Resources, Class 10, SST Class 10 Notes | EduRev

Created by: Manju Sen

Class 10 : NCERT Textbook Chapter - Forest and Wildlife Resources, Class 10, SST Class 10 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


We share this planet with millions of other
living beings, starting from micro-organisms
and bacteria, lichens to banyan trees,
elephants and blue whales. This entire
habitat that we live in has immense
biodiversity. We humans along with all living
organisms form a complex web of ecological
system in which we are only a part and very
much dependent on this system for our own
existence. For example, the plants, animals
and micro-organisms re-create the quality of
the air we breathe, the water we drink and
the soil that produces our food without which
we cannot survive. Forests play a key role in
the ecological system as these are also the
primary producers on which all other living
beings depend.
Flora and Fauna in India
If you look around, you will be able to find
that there are some animals and plants which
are unique in your area. In fact, India is one
of the world’s richest countries in terms of
its vast array of biological diversity, and has
nearly 8 per cent of the total number of
species in the world (estimated to be 1.6
million). This is possibly twice or thrice the
number yet to be discovered. You have
already studied in detail about the extent
and variety of forest and wildlife resources
in India. You may have realised the
importance of these resources in our daily
life. These diverse flora and fauna are so
well integrated in our daily life that we take
these for granted. But, lately, they are under
great stress mainy due to insensitivity to
our environment.
Narak! My Lord, you are the creator of music
in the world of Lepchas
Oh Narak! My Lord, let me dedicate
myself to you
Let me gather your music from the
springs, the rivers, the mountains, the forests,
the insects and the animals
Let me gather your music from the sweet
breeze and offer it to you
Source: Lepcha folk song from northern part of
West Bengal
Biodiversity or Biological Diversity is
immensely rich in wildlife and cultivated
species, diverse in form and function but
closely integrated in a system through
multiple network of interdependencies.
Over 81,000 species of fauna and 47,000
species of flora are found in this country
so far? Of the estimated 47,000 plant
species, about 15,000 flowering species
are endemic (indigenous) to India.
Find out stories prevalent in your region
which are about the harmonious relationship
between human beings and nature.
Some estimates suggest that at least 10
per cent of India’s recorded wild flora and
20 per cent of its mammals are on the
threatened list. Many of these would now be
categorised as ‘critical’, that is on the verge
of extinction like the cheetah, pink-headed
duck, mountain quail, forest spotted owlet,
and plants like madhuca insignis (a wild
2015-16
Page 2


We share this planet with millions of other
living beings, starting from micro-organisms
and bacteria, lichens to banyan trees,
elephants and blue whales. This entire
habitat that we live in has immense
biodiversity. We humans along with all living
organisms form a complex web of ecological
system in which we are only a part and very
much dependent on this system for our own
existence. For example, the plants, animals
and micro-organisms re-create the quality of
the air we breathe, the water we drink and
the soil that produces our food without which
we cannot survive. Forests play a key role in
the ecological system as these are also the
primary producers on which all other living
beings depend.
Flora and Fauna in India
If you look around, you will be able to find
that there are some animals and plants which
are unique in your area. In fact, India is one
of the world’s richest countries in terms of
its vast array of biological diversity, and has
nearly 8 per cent of the total number of
species in the world (estimated to be 1.6
million). This is possibly twice or thrice the
number yet to be discovered. You have
already studied in detail about the extent
and variety of forest and wildlife resources
in India. You may have realised the
importance of these resources in our daily
life. These diverse flora and fauna are so
well integrated in our daily life that we take
these for granted. But, lately, they are under
great stress mainy due to insensitivity to
our environment.
Narak! My Lord, you are the creator of music
in the world of Lepchas
Oh Narak! My Lord, let me dedicate
myself to you
Let me gather your music from the
springs, the rivers, the mountains, the forests,
the insects and the animals
Let me gather your music from the sweet
breeze and offer it to you
Source: Lepcha folk song from northern part of
West Bengal
Biodiversity or Biological Diversity is
immensely rich in wildlife and cultivated
species, diverse in form and function but
closely integrated in a system through
multiple network of interdependencies.
Over 81,000 species of fauna and 47,000
species of flora are found in this country
so far? Of the estimated 47,000 plant
species, about 15,000 flowering species
are endemic (indigenous) to India.
Find out stories prevalent in your region
which are about the harmonious relationship
between human beings and nature.
Some estimates suggest that at least 10
per cent of India’s recorded wild flora and
20 per cent of its mammals are on the
threatened list. Many of these would now be
categorised as ‘critical’, that is on the verge
of extinction like the cheetah, pink-headed
duck, mountain quail, forest spotted owlet,
and plants like madhuca insignis (a wild
2015-16
variety of mahua) and hubbardia
heptaneuron,(a species of grass). In fact, no
one can say how many species may have
already been lost. Today, we only talk of the
larger and more visible animals and plants
that have become extinct but what about
smaller animals like insects and plants?
Let us now understand the different
categories of existing plants and animal
species. Based on the International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources (IUCN), we can classify as
follows–
Normal Species: Species whose population
levels are considered to be normal for
their survival, such as cattle, sal, pine,
rodents, etc.
Endangered Species: These are species
which are in danger of extinction. The
survival of such species is difficult if the
negative factors that have led to a decline in
their population continue to operate. The
examples of such species are black buck,
crocodile, Indian wild ass, Indian rhino, lion
tailed macaque, sangai (brow anter deer in
Manipur), etc.
Vulnerable Species: These are species
whose population has declined to levels from
where it is likely to move into the endangered
category in the near future if the negative
factors continue to operate. The examples of
such species are blue sheep, Asiatic elephant,
Gangetic dolphin, etc.
Rare Species: Species with small
population may move into the endangered
or vulnerable category if the negative factors
affecting them continue to operate. The
examples of such species are the Himalayan
brown bear, wild Asiatic buffalo, desert fox
and hornbill, etc.
Endemic Species: These are species which
are only found in some particular areas
usually isolated by natural or geographical
barriers. Examples of such species are the
Andaman teal, Nicobar pigeon, Andaman
wild pig, mithun in Arunchal Pradesh.
Extinct Species: These are species which
are not found after searches of known or
likely areas where they may occur. A species
may be extinct from a local area, region,
country, continent or the entire earth.
Examples of such species are the Asiatic
cheetah, pink head duck.
Do you know that among the larger
animals in India, 79 species of mammals,
44 of birds, 15 of reptiles, and 3 of
amphibians are threatened? Nearly 1,500
plant species are considered endangered.
Flowering plants and vertebrate animals
have recently become extinct at a rate
estimated to be 50 to 100 times the
average expected natural rate.
Vanishing Forests
The dimensions of deforestation in India are
staggering. The forest and tree cover in the
country is estimated at 78.92 million hectare,
which is 24.01 per cent of the total
geographical area (dense forest 12.24 per
cent; open forest 8.99 per cent; and
mangrove 0.14 per cent). According to the
State of Forest Report (2013), the dense forest
cover has increased by 10,098 sq km since
1997. However, this apparent increase in the
forest cover is due to plantation by different
agencies.
15 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Fig. 2.1
2015-16
Page 3


We share this planet with millions of other
living beings, starting from micro-organisms
and bacteria, lichens to banyan trees,
elephants and blue whales. This entire
habitat that we live in has immense
biodiversity. We humans along with all living
organisms form a complex web of ecological
system in which we are only a part and very
much dependent on this system for our own
existence. For example, the plants, animals
and micro-organisms re-create the quality of
the air we breathe, the water we drink and
the soil that produces our food without which
we cannot survive. Forests play a key role in
the ecological system as these are also the
primary producers on which all other living
beings depend.
Flora and Fauna in India
If you look around, you will be able to find
that there are some animals and plants which
are unique in your area. In fact, India is one
of the world’s richest countries in terms of
its vast array of biological diversity, and has
nearly 8 per cent of the total number of
species in the world (estimated to be 1.6
million). This is possibly twice or thrice the
number yet to be discovered. You have
already studied in detail about the extent
and variety of forest and wildlife resources
in India. You may have realised the
importance of these resources in our daily
life. These diverse flora and fauna are so
well integrated in our daily life that we take
these for granted. But, lately, they are under
great stress mainy due to insensitivity to
our environment.
Narak! My Lord, you are the creator of music
in the world of Lepchas
Oh Narak! My Lord, let me dedicate
myself to you
Let me gather your music from the
springs, the rivers, the mountains, the forests,
the insects and the animals
Let me gather your music from the sweet
breeze and offer it to you
Source: Lepcha folk song from northern part of
West Bengal
Biodiversity or Biological Diversity is
immensely rich in wildlife and cultivated
species, diverse in form and function but
closely integrated in a system through
multiple network of interdependencies.
Over 81,000 species of fauna and 47,000
species of flora are found in this country
so far? Of the estimated 47,000 plant
species, about 15,000 flowering species
are endemic (indigenous) to India.
Find out stories prevalent in your region
which are about the harmonious relationship
between human beings and nature.
Some estimates suggest that at least 10
per cent of India’s recorded wild flora and
20 per cent of its mammals are on the
threatened list. Many of these would now be
categorised as ‘critical’, that is on the verge
of extinction like the cheetah, pink-headed
duck, mountain quail, forest spotted owlet,
and plants like madhuca insignis (a wild
2015-16
variety of mahua) and hubbardia
heptaneuron,(a species of grass). In fact, no
one can say how many species may have
already been lost. Today, we only talk of the
larger and more visible animals and plants
that have become extinct but what about
smaller animals like insects and plants?
Let us now understand the different
categories of existing plants and animal
species. Based on the International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources (IUCN), we can classify as
follows–
Normal Species: Species whose population
levels are considered to be normal for
their survival, such as cattle, sal, pine,
rodents, etc.
Endangered Species: These are species
which are in danger of extinction. The
survival of such species is difficult if the
negative factors that have led to a decline in
their population continue to operate. The
examples of such species are black buck,
crocodile, Indian wild ass, Indian rhino, lion
tailed macaque, sangai (brow anter deer in
Manipur), etc.
Vulnerable Species: These are species
whose population has declined to levels from
where it is likely to move into the endangered
category in the near future if the negative
factors continue to operate. The examples of
such species are blue sheep, Asiatic elephant,
Gangetic dolphin, etc.
Rare Species: Species with small
population may move into the endangered
or vulnerable category if the negative factors
affecting them continue to operate. The
examples of such species are the Himalayan
brown bear, wild Asiatic buffalo, desert fox
and hornbill, etc.
Endemic Species: These are species which
are only found in some particular areas
usually isolated by natural or geographical
barriers. Examples of such species are the
Andaman teal, Nicobar pigeon, Andaman
wild pig, mithun in Arunchal Pradesh.
Extinct Species: These are species which
are not found after searches of known or
likely areas where they may occur. A species
may be extinct from a local area, region,
country, continent or the entire earth.
Examples of such species are the Asiatic
cheetah, pink head duck.
Do you know that among the larger
animals in India, 79 species of mammals,
44 of birds, 15 of reptiles, and 3 of
amphibians are threatened? Nearly 1,500
plant species are considered endangered.
Flowering plants and vertebrate animals
have recently become extinct at a rate
estimated to be 50 to 100 times the
average expected natural rate.
Vanishing Forests
The dimensions of deforestation in India are
staggering. The forest and tree cover in the
country is estimated at 78.92 million hectare,
which is 24.01 per cent of the total
geographical area (dense forest 12.24 per
cent; open forest 8.99 per cent; and
mangrove 0.14 per cent). According to the
State of Forest Report (2013), the dense forest
cover has increased by 10,098 sq km since
1997. However, this apparent increase in the
forest cover is due to plantation by different
agencies.
15 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Fig. 2.1
2015-16
16 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
depleted our forests and wildlife. The greatest
damage inflicted on Indian forests was during
the colonial period due to the expansion of the
railways, agriculture, commercial and scientific
forestry and mining activities. Even after
Independence, agricultural expansion
continues to be one of the major causes of
depletion of forest resources. Between 1951 and
1980, according to the Forest Survey of India,
over 26,200 sq. km. of forest area was converted
into agricultural land all over India. Substantial
parts of the tribal belts, especially in the north-
eastern and central India, have been deforested
or degraded by shifting cultivation (jhum), a type
of ‘slash and burn’ agriculture.
Fig. 2.2:  A few extinct, rare and endangered species
Asiatic Cheetah: where did they go?
The world’s fastest land mammal, the
cheetah (Acinonyx jubantus), is a unique and
specialised member of the cat family and
can move at the speed of 112 km./hr. The
cheetah is often mistaken for a leopard. Its
distinguishing marks are the long teardrop-
shaped lines on each side of the nose from
the corner of its eyes to its mouth. Prior to
the 20th century, cheetahs were widely
distributed throughout Africa and Asia.
Today, the Asian cheetah is nearly extinct
due to a decline of available habitat and
prey. The species was declared extinct in
India long back in 1952.
What are the negative factors that cause such
fearful depletion of the flora and fauna?
If you look around, you will be able to find
out how we have transformed nature into a
resource obtaining directly and indirectly from
the forests and wildlife – wood, barks, leaves,
rubber, medicines, dyes, food, fuel, fodder,
manure, etc. So it is we ourselves who have
Are colonial forest policies
to be blamed?
Some of our environmental activists say that
the promotion of a few favoured species, in
many parts of India, has been carried
through the ironically-termed “enrichment
plantation”, in which a single commercially
valuable species was extensively planted
and other species eliminated. For instance,
2015-16
Page 4


We share this planet with millions of other
living beings, starting from micro-organisms
and bacteria, lichens to banyan trees,
elephants and blue whales. This entire
habitat that we live in has immense
biodiversity. We humans along with all living
organisms form a complex web of ecological
system in which we are only a part and very
much dependent on this system for our own
existence. For example, the plants, animals
and micro-organisms re-create the quality of
the air we breathe, the water we drink and
the soil that produces our food without which
we cannot survive. Forests play a key role in
the ecological system as these are also the
primary producers on which all other living
beings depend.
Flora and Fauna in India
If you look around, you will be able to find
that there are some animals and plants which
are unique in your area. In fact, India is one
of the world’s richest countries in terms of
its vast array of biological diversity, and has
nearly 8 per cent of the total number of
species in the world (estimated to be 1.6
million). This is possibly twice or thrice the
number yet to be discovered. You have
already studied in detail about the extent
and variety of forest and wildlife resources
in India. You may have realised the
importance of these resources in our daily
life. These diverse flora and fauna are so
well integrated in our daily life that we take
these for granted. But, lately, they are under
great stress mainy due to insensitivity to
our environment.
Narak! My Lord, you are the creator of music
in the world of Lepchas
Oh Narak! My Lord, let me dedicate
myself to you
Let me gather your music from the
springs, the rivers, the mountains, the forests,
the insects and the animals
Let me gather your music from the sweet
breeze and offer it to you
Source: Lepcha folk song from northern part of
West Bengal
Biodiversity or Biological Diversity is
immensely rich in wildlife and cultivated
species, diverse in form and function but
closely integrated in a system through
multiple network of interdependencies.
Over 81,000 species of fauna and 47,000
species of flora are found in this country
so far? Of the estimated 47,000 plant
species, about 15,000 flowering species
are endemic (indigenous) to India.
Find out stories prevalent in your region
which are about the harmonious relationship
between human beings and nature.
Some estimates suggest that at least 10
per cent of India’s recorded wild flora and
20 per cent of its mammals are on the
threatened list. Many of these would now be
categorised as ‘critical’, that is on the verge
of extinction like the cheetah, pink-headed
duck, mountain quail, forest spotted owlet,
and plants like madhuca insignis (a wild
2015-16
variety of mahua) and hubbardia
heptaneuron,(a species of grass). In fact, no
one can say how many species may have
already been lost. Today, we only talk of the
larger and more visible animals and plants
that have become extinct but what about
smaller animals like insects and plants?
Let us now understand the different
categories of existing plants and animal
species. Based on the International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources (IUCN), we can classify as
follows–
Normal Species: Species whose population
levels are considered to be normal for
their survival, such as cattle, sal, pine,
rodents, etc.
Endangered Species: These are species
which are in danger of extinction. The
survival of such species is difficult if the
negative factors that have led to a decline in
their population continue to operate. The
examples of such species are black buck,
crocodile, Indian wild ass, Indian rhino, lion
tailed macaque, sangai (brow anter deer in
Manipur), etc.
Vulnerable Species: These are species
whose population has declined to levels from
where it is likely to move into the endangered
category in the near future if the negative
factors continue to operate. The examples of
such species are blue sheep, Asiatic elephant,
Gangetic dolphin, etc.
Rare Species: Species with small
population may move into the endangered
or vulnerable category if the negative factors
affecting them continue to operate. The
examples of such species are the Himalayan
brown bear, wild Asiatic buffalo, desert fox
and hornbill, etc.
Endemic Species: These are species which
are only found in some particular areas
usually isolated by natural or geographical
barriers. Examples of such species are the
Andaman teal, Nicobar pigeon, Andaman
wild pig, mithun in Arunchal Pradesh.
Extinct Species: These are species which
are not found after searches of known or
likely areas where they may occur. A species
may be extinct from a local area, region,
country, continent or the entire earth.
Examples of such species are the Asiatic
cheetah, pink head duck.
Do you know that among the larger
animals in India, 79 species of mammals,
44 of birds, 15 of reptiles, and 3 of
amphibians are threatened? Nearly 1,500
plant species are considered endangered.
Flowering plants and vertebrate animals
have recently become extinct at a rate
estimated to be 50 to 100 times the
average expected natural rate.
Vanishing Forests
The dimensions of deforestation in India are
staggering. The forest and tree cover in the
country is estimated at 78.92 million hectare,
which is 24.01 per cent of the total
geographical area (dense forest 12.24 per
cent; open forest 8.99 per cent; and
mangrove 0.14 per cent). According to the
State of Forest Report (2013), the dense forest
cover has increased by 10,098 sq km since
1997. However, this apparent increase in the
forest cover is due to plantation by different
agencies.
15 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Fig. 2.1
2015-16
16 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
depleted our forests and wildlife. The greatest
damage inflicted on Indian forests was during
the colonial period due to the expansion of the
railways, agriculture, commercial and scientific
forestry and mining activities. Even after
Independence, agricultural expansion
continues to be one of the major causes of
depletion of forest resources. Between 1951 and
1980, according to the Forest Survey of India,
over 26,200 sq. km. of forest area was converted
into agricultural land all over India. Substantial
parts of the tribal belts, especially in the north-
eastern and central India, have been deforested
or degraded by shifting cultivation (jhum), a type
of ‘slash and burn’ agriculture.
Fig. 2.2:  A few extinct, rare and endangered species
Asiatic Cheetah: where did they go?
The world’s fastest land mammal, the
cheetah (Acinonyx jubantus), is a unique and
specialised member of the cat family and
can move at the speed of 112 km./hr. The
cheetah is often mistaken for a leopard. Its
distinguishing marks are the long teardrop-
shaped lines on each side of the nose from
the corner of its eyes to its mouth. Prior to
the 20th century, cheetahs were widely
distributed throughout Africa and Asia.
Today, the Asian cheetah is nearly extinct
due to a decline of available habitat and
prey. The species was declared extinct in
India long back in 1952.
What are the negative factors that cause such
fearful depletion of the flora and fauna?
If you look around, you will be able to find
out how we have transformed nature into a
resource obtaining directly and indirectly from
the forests and wildlife – wood, barks, leaves,
rubber, medicines, dyes, food, fuel, fodder,
manure, etc. So it is we ourselves who have
Are colonial forest policies
to be blamed?
Some of our environmental activists say that
the promotion of a few favoured species, in
many parts of India, has been carried
through the ironically-termed “enrichment
plantation”, in which a single commercially
valuable species was extensively planted
and other species eliminated. For instance,
2015-16
17 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Large-scale development projects have also
contributed significantly to the loss of forests.
Since 1951, over 5,000 sq km of forest was
cleared for river valley projects. Clearing of
forests is still continuing with projects like the
Narmada Sagar Project in Madhya Pradesh,
which would inundate 40,000 hectares of
forest. Mining is another important factor
behind deforestation. The Buxa Tiger Reserve
in West Bengal is seriously threatened by the
ongoing dolomite mining. It has disturbed the
natural habitat of many species and blocked
the migration route of several others, including
the great Indian elephant.
Many foresters and environmentalists hold
the view that the greatest degrading factors
behind the depletion of forest resources are
grazing and fuel-wood collection. Though, there
may be some substance in their argument, yet,
the fact remains that a substantial part of the
fuel-fodder demand is met by lopping rather
than by felling entire trees. The forest
ecosystems are repositories of some of the
country’s most valuable forest products,
minerals and other resources that meet the
demands of the rapidly expanding industrial-
urban economy. These protected areas, thus
mean different things to different people, and
therein lies the fertile ground for conflicts.
teak monoculture has damaged the natural
forest in South India and Chir Pine (Pinus
roxburghii) plantations in the Himalayas
have replaced the Himalayan oak (Quercius
spp.) and Rhododendron forests.
Fig. 2.3
The Himalayan Yew in trouble
The Himalayan Yew (T axus wallachiana) is a
medicinal plant found in various parts of
Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.
A chemical compound called ‘taxol’ is
extracted from the bark, needles, twigs and
roots of this tree, and it has been successfully
used to treat some cancers – the drug is now
the biggest selling anti-cancer drug in the
world. The species is under great threat due
to over-exploitation. In the last one decade,
thousands of yew trees have dried up in
various parts of Himachal Pradesh and
Arunachal Pradesh.
Tribal girls using bamboo saplings in a
nursery at Mukhali near Silent Valley
Tribal women selling minor forest produce Leaf litter collection by women folk
2015-16
Page 5


We share this planet with millions of other
living beings, starting from micro-organisms
and bacteria, lichens to banyan trees,
elephants and blue whales. This entire
habitat that we live in has immense
biodiversity. We humans along with all living
organisms form a complex web of ecological
system in which we are only a part and very
much dependent on this system for our own
existence. For example, the plants, animals
and micro-organisms re-create the quality of
the air we breathe, the water we drink and
the soil that produces our food without which
we cannot survive. Forests play a key role in
the ecological system as these are also the
primary producers on which all other living
beings depend.
Flora and Fauna in India
If you look around, you will be able to find
that there are some animals and plants which
are unique in your area. In fact, India is one
of the world’s richest countries in terms of
its vast array of biological diversity, and has
nearly 8 per cent of the total number of
species in the world (estimated to be 1.6
million). This is possibly twice or thrice the
number yet to be discovered. You have
already studied in detail about the extent
and variety of forest and wildlife resources
in India. You may have realised the
importance of these resources in our daily
life. These diverse flora and fauna are so
well integrated in our daily life that we take
these for granted. But, lately, they are under
great stress mainy due to insensitivity to
our environment.
Narak! My Lord, you are the creator of music
in the world of Lepchas
Oh Narak! My Lord, let me dedicate
myself to you
Let me gather your music from the
springs, the rivers, the mountains, the forests,
the insects and the animals
Let me gather your music from the sweet
breeze and offer it to you
Source: Lepcha folk song from northern part of
West Bengal
Biodiversity or Biological Diversity is
immensely rich in wildlife and cultivated
species, diverse in form and function but
closely integrated in a system through
multiple network of interdependencies.
Over 81,000 species of fauna and 47,000
species of flora are found in this country
so far? Of the estimated 47,000 plant
species, about 15,000 flowering species
are endemic (indigenous) to India.
Find out stories prevalent in your region
which are about the harmonious relationship
between human beings and nature.
Some estimates suggest that at least 10
per cent of India’s recorded wild flora and
20 per cent of its mammals are on the
threatened list. Many of these would now be
categorised as ‘critical’, that is on the verge
of extinction like the cheetah, pink-headed
duck, mountain quail, forest spotted owlet,
and plants like madhuca insignis (a wild
2015-16
variety of mahua) and hubbardia
heptaneuron,(a species of grass). In fact, no
one can say how many species may have
already been lost. Today, we only talk of the
larger and more visible animals and plants
that have become extinct but what about
smaller animals like insects and plants?
Let us now understand the different
categories of existing plants and animal
species. Based on the International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources (IUCN), we can classify as
follows–
Normal Species: Species whose population
levels are considered to be normal for
their survival, such as cattle, sal, pine,
rodents, etc.
Endangered Species: These are species
which are in danger of extinction. The
survival of such species is difficult if the
negative factors that have led to a decline in
their population continue to operate. The
examples of such species are black buck,
crocodile, Indian wild ass, Indian rhino, lion
tailed macaque, sangai (brow anter deer in
Manipur), etc.
Vulnerable Species: These are species
whose population has declined to levels from
where it is likely to move into the endangered
category in the near future if the negative
factors continue to operate. The examples of
such species are blue sheep, Asiatic elephant,
Gangetic dolphin, etc.
Rare Species: Species with small
population may move into the endangered
or vulnerable category if the negative factors
affecting them continue to operate. The
examples of such species are the Himalayan
brown bear, wild Asiatic buffalo, desert fox
and hornbill, etc.
Endemic Species: These are species which
are only found in some particular areas
usually isolated by natural or geographical
barriers. Examples of such species are the
Andaman teal, Nicobar pigeon, Andaman
wild pig, mithun in Arunchal Pradesh.
Extinct Species: These are species which
are not found after searches of known or
likely areas where they may occur. A species
may be extinct from a local area, region,
country, continent or the entire earth.
Examples of such species are the Asiatic
cheetah, pink head duck.
Do you know that among the larger
animals in India, 79 species of mammals,
44 of birds, 15 of reptiles, and 3 of
amphibians are threatened? Nearly 1,500
plant species are considered endangered.
Flowering plants and vertebrate animals
have recently become extinct at a rate
estimated to be 50 to 100 times the
average expected natural rate.
Vanishing Forests
The dimensions of deforestation in India are
staggering. The forest and tree cover in the
country is estimated at 78.92 million hectare,
which is 24.01 per cent of the total
geographical area (dense forest 12.24 per
cent; open forest 8.99 per cent; and
mangrove 0.14 per cent). According to the
State of Forest Report (2013), the dense forest
cover has increased by 10,098 sq km since
1997. However, this apparent increase in the
forest cover is due to plantation by different
agencies.
15 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Fig. 2.1
2015-16
16 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
depleted our forests and wildlife. The greatest
damage inflicted on Indian forests was during
the colonial period due to the expansion of the
railways, agriculture, commercial and scientific
forestry and mining activities. Even after
Independence, agricultural expansion
continues to be one of the major causes of
depletion of forest resources. Between 1951 and
1980, according to the Forest Survey of India,
over 26,200 sq. km. of forest area was converted
into agricultural land all over India. Substantial
parts of the tribal belts, especially in the north-
eastern and central India, have been deforested
or degraded by shifting cultivation (jhum), a type
of ‘slash and burn’ agriculture.
Fig. 2.2:  A few extinct, rare and endangered species
Asiatic Cheetah: where did they go?
The world’s fastest land mammal, the
cheetah (Acinonyx jubantus), is a unique and
specialised member of the cat family and
can move at the speed of 112 km./hr. The
cheetah is often mistaken for a leopard. Its
distinguishing marks are the long teardrop-
shaped lines on each side of the nose from
the corner of its eyes to its mouth. Prior to
the 20th century, cheetahs were widely
distributed throughout Africa and Asia.
Today, the Asian cheetah is nearly extinct
due to a decline of available habitat and
prey. The species was declared extinct in
India long back in 1952.
What are the negative factors that cause such
fearful depletion of the flora and fauna?
If you look around, you will be able to find
out how we have transformed nature into a
resource obtaining directly and indirectly from
the forests and wildlife – wood, barks, leaves,
rubber, medicines, dyes, food, fuel, fodder,
manure, etc. So it is we ourselves who have
Are colonial forest policies
to be blamed?
Some of our environmental activists say that
the promotion of a few favoured species, in
many parts of India, has been carried
through the ironically-termed “enrichment
plantation”, in which a single commercially
valuable species was extensively planted
and other species eliminated. For instance,
2015-16
17 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Large-scale development projects have also
contributed significantly to the loss of forests.
Since 1951, over 5,000 sq km of forest was
cleared for river valley projects. Clearing of
forests is still continuing with projects like the
Narmada Sagar Project in Madhya Pradesh,
which would inundate 40,000 hectares of
forest. Mining is another important factor
behind deforestation. The Buxa Tiger Reserve
in West Bengal is seriously threatened by the
ongoing dolomite mining. It has disturbed the
natural habitat of many species and blocked
the migration route of several others, including
the great Indian elephant.
Many foresters and environmentalists hold
the view that the greatest degrading factors
behind the depletion of forest resources are
grazing and fuel-wood collection. Though, there
may be some substance in their argument, yet,
the fact remains that a substantial part of the
fuel-fodder demand is met by lopping rather
than by felling entire trees. The forest
ecosystems are repositories of some of the
country’s most valuable forest products,
minerals and other resources that meet the
demands of the rapidly expanding industrial-
urban economy. These protected areas, thus
mean different things to different people, and
therein lies the fertile ground for conflicts.
teak monoculture has damaged the natural
forest in South India and Chir Pine (Pinus
roxburghii) plantations in the Himalayas
have replaced the Himalayan oak (Quercius
spp.) and Rhododendron forests.
Fig. 2.3
The Himalayan Yew in trouble
The Himalayan Yew (T axus wallachiana) is a
medicinal plant found in various parts of
Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.
A chemical compound called ‘taxol’ is
extracted from the bark, needles, twigs and
roots of this tree, and it has been successfully
used to treat some cancers – the drug is now
the biggest selling anti-cancer drug in the
world. The species is under great threat due
to over-exploitation. In the last one decade,
thousands of yew trees have dried up in
various parts of Himachal Pradesh and
Arunachal Pradesh.
Tribal girls using bamboo saplings in a
nursery at Mukhali near Silent Valley
Tribal women selling minor forest produce Leaf litter collection by women folk
2015-16
18 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
Habitat destruction, hunting, poaching,
over-exploitation, environmental pollution,
poisoning and forest fires are factors, which
have led to the decline in India’s biodiversity.
Other important causes of environmental
destruction are unequal access, inequitable
consumption of resources and differential
sharing of responsibility for environmental
well-being. Over-population in third world
countries is often cited as the cause of
environmental degradation. However, an
average American consumes 40 times more
resources than an average Somalian. Similarly,
the richest five per cent of Indian society
probably cause more ecological damage
because of the amount they consume than the
poorest 25 per cent. The former shares
minimum responsibilities for environmental
well-being. The question is: who is consuming
what, from where and how much?
men. In many societies, women bear the major
responsibility of collection of fuel, fodder, water
and other basic subsistence needs. As these
resources are depleted, the drudgery of women
increases and sometimes they have to walk for
more than 10 km to collect these resources.
This causes serious health problems for women
and negligence of home and children because
of the increased hours of work, which often has
serious social implications. The indirect impact
of degradation such as severe drought or
deforestation-induced floods, etc. also hits the
poor the hardest. Poverty in these cases is a
direct outcome of environmental destruction.
Therefore, forest and wildlife, are vital to the
quality of life and environment in the
subcontinent. It is imperative to adapt to sound
forest and wildlife conservation strategies.
Conservation of Forest and Wildlife in India
Conservation in the background of rapid
decline in wildlife population and forestry has
become essential. But why do we need to
conserve our forests and wildlife? Conservation
preserves the ecological diversity and our life
support systems – water, air and soil. It also
preserves the genetic diversity of plants and
animals for better growth of species and
breeding. For example, in agriculture, we are
still dependent on traditional crop varieties.
Fisheries too are heavily dependent on the
maintenance of aquatic biodiversity.
In the 1960s and 1970s, conservationists
demanded a national wildlife protection
programme. The Indian Wildlife (Protection)
Act was implemented in 1972, with various
provisions for protecting habitats. An all-India
list of protected species was also published.
The thrust of the programme was towards
protecting the remaining population of certain
endangered species by banning hunting,
giving legal protection to their habitats, and
restricting trade in wildlife. Subsequently,
central and many state governments
established national parks and wildlife
sanctuaries about which you have already
studied. The central government also
announced several projects for protecting
specific animals, which were gravely
threatened, including the tiger, the one-
Do you know that over half of India’s
natural forests are gone, one-third of its
wetlands drained out, 70 per cent of its
surface water bodies polluted, 40 per cent
of its mangroves wiped out, and with
continued hunting and trade of wild
animals and commercially valuable
plants, thousands of plant and animal
species are heading towards extinction?
The destruction of forests and wildlife is not
just a biological issue. The biological loss is
strongly correlated with the loss of cultural
diversity. Such losses have increasingly
marginalised and impoverished many
indigenous and other forest-dependent
communities, who directly depend on various
components of the forest and wildlife for food,
drink, medicine, culture, spirituality, etc.
Within the poor, women are affected more than
Have you noticed any activity which leads
to the loss of biodiversity around you? Write
a note on it and suggest some measures to
prevent it.
2015-16
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