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

Social Studies (SST) Class 10

Class 10 : NCERT Textbook - Forest and Wildlife Resources 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 . 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.
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 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?
2020-21
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 . 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.
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 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?
2020-21
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.
Vanishing Forests
The dimensions of deforestation in India are
staggering. The forest and tree cover in the
country is estimated at 79.42 million hectare,
which is 24.16 per cent of the total
geographical area (dense forest 12.2 per cent;
open forest 9.14 per cent; and mangrove
0.14 per cent). According to the State of Forest
Report (2015), the dense forest cover has
increased by 3,775 sq km since 2013.
However , this apparent increase in the forest
cover is due to conservation measures,
management interventions and plantation,
etc., by different agencies.
15 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Fig. 2.1
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 Arunachal 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.
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
2020-21
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 . 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.
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 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?
2020-21
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.
Vanishing Forests
The dimensions of deforestation in India are
staggering. The forest and tree cover in the
country is estimated at 79.42 million hectare,
which is 24.16 per cent of the total
geographical area (dense forest 12.2 per cent;
open forest 9.14 per cent; and mangrove
0.14 per cent). According to the State of Forest
Report (2015), the dense forest cover has
increased by 3,775 sq km since 2013.
However , this apparent increase in the forest
cover is due to conservation measures,
management interventions and plantation,
etc., by different agencies.
15 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Fig. 2.1
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 Arunachal 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.
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
2020-21
16 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
through the ironically-termed “enrichment
plantation”, in which a single commercially
valuable species was extensively planted
and other species eliminated. For instance,
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.
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 W est 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.
Fig. 2.2:  A few extinct, rare and endangered species
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 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 F orest 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.
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
2020-21
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 . 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.
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 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?
2020-21
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.
Vanishing Forests
The dimensions of deforestation in India are
staggering. The forest and tree cover in the
country is estimated at 79.42 million hectare,
which is 24.16 per cent of the total
geographical area (dense forest 12.2 per cent;
open forest 9.14 per cent; and mangrove
0.14 per cent). According to the State of Forest
Report (2015), the dense forest cover has
increased by 3,775 sq km since 2013.
However , this apparent increase in the forest
cover is due to conservation measures,
management interventions and plantation,
etc., by different agencies.
15 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Fig. 2.1
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 Arunachal 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.
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
2020-21
16 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
through the ironically-termed “enrichment
plantation”, in which a single commercially
valuable species was extensively planted
and other species eliminated. For instance,
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.
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 W est 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.
Fig. 2.2:  A few extinct, rare and endangered species
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 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 F orest 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.
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
2020-21
17 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
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.
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
Fig. 2.3
The Himalayan Yew in trouble
The Himalayan Yew (Taxus 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
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
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.
2020-21
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 . 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.
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 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?
2020-21
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.
Vanishing Forests
The dimensions of deforestation in India are
staggering. The forest and tree cover in the
country is estimated at 79.42 million hectare,
which is 24.16 per cent of the total
geographical area (dense forest 12.2 per cent;
open forest 9.14 per cent; and mangrove
0.14 per cent). According to the State of Forest
Report (2015), the dense forest cover has
increased by 3,775 sq km since 2013.
However , this apparent increase in the forest
cover is due to conservation measures,
management interventions and plantation,
etc., by different agencies.
15 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Fig. 2.1
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 Arunachal 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.
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
2020-21
16 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
through the ironically-termed “enrichment
plantation”, in which a single commercially
valuable species was extensively planted
and other species eliminated. For instance,
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.
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 W est 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.
Fig. 2.2:  A few extinct, rare and endangered species
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 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 F orest 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.
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
2020-21
17 FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES
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.
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
Fig. 2.3
The Himalayan Yew in trouble
The Himalayan Yew (Taxus 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
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
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.
2020-21
18 CONTEMPORARY INDIA – II
Project Tiger
Tiger is one of the key wildlife species in
the faunal web. In 1973, the authorities
realised that the tiger population had
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?
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-
horned rhinoceros, the Kashmir stag or
hangul, three types of crocodiles – fresh
water crocodile, saltwater crocodile and the
Gharial, the Asiatic lion, and others. Most
recently, the Indian elephant, black buck
(chinkara), the great Indian bustard
(godawan) and the snow leopard, etc. have
been given full or partial legal protection
against hunting and trade throughout India.
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 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
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.
2020-21
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