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7. Conservation of Plants and Animals

This chapter talks about how we can save the plants and animals living in forests

A variety of plants and animals live on earth, mostly in the forests. Forests provide them with home and food. They are essential for maintaining the ecological balance and important for survival of mankind.

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7.1      Deforestation

Deforestation is the cutting of trees to clear the forests and using that land for other purposes. Deforestation is done for the following reasons

  1. Procuring land for cultivation
  2. Building houses & factories
  3. Using wood as fuel.
  4. Using wood for making furniture

7.1.1      Consequences of Deforestation

The following are the consequence of Deforestation

  1. It increases the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere
  2. It increases temperature & pollution level on the earth leading to global warming
  3. Ground water level is lowered as trees hold the ground water close to surface
  4. Ecological balance is disturbed
  5. Rainfall & the fertility of soil is decreased
  6. Chances of natural calamities such as Droughts, Desertification and Floods increase

The following are the natural calamities associated with deforestation

  1. Droughts – Drought is a period when a particular region faces water shortage mainly due to the lack of rainfall. Deforestation leads to less number of trees on earth. Plants consume carbon dioxide from atmosphere for photosynthesis. Lesser number would mean less amount of carbon dioxide will be used up resulting in increased amount of carbon dioxide in atmosphere. Carbon dioxide traps the heat rays reflected by earth leading to global warming. As the temperature on the earth increases, it disturbs the water cycle & reduces rainfall. This causes Drought.
  2. Desertification – Trees prevent soil erosion. Due to deforestation fewer trees are left which results in soil erosion. Removal of the top layer of the soil exposes the lower, hard and rocky layers. This soil is less fertile which slowly gets converted into deserts. It is called as Desertification.
  3. Floods – Due to deforestation, the water holding capacity of the soil reduces. During heavy rains, the movement of water from the soil surface into the ground is reduced, so most of the water remains on the ground leading to floods.

7.2      Conservation of Forest & Wildlife

To conserve the various varieties of plants and animals, we need to conserve their habitat – forests. A variety of organisms exist on earth. Their relationship with each other and the environment is called Bio Diversity

7.2.1      Classification of Forests

Forest areas are classified into the following, so that we can focus on the needs of species residing in that habitat. The plants & animals found in a particular area are termed Flora (plants) & Fauna (animals) of that particular area

  1. Wildlife Sanctuaries – They are protected areas which provide protection & suitable living conditions to wild animals. These provide them protection from capturing as well as killing (poaching) by humans

There are about 550 animal wildlife sanctuaries in India. Some of the popular ones are

    • Pachmarhi  wildlife sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh
    • Gir wildlife sanctuary, Gujarat
    • Periyar wildlife sanctuary, Kerala
  1. National Parks – It is a large and diverse protected area to protect the whole gamut of ecosystem. They preserve flora, fauna, landscape and historic objects of an area.

There are about 100 national parks in India. Some of the popular ones are

    • Satpura national park, Madhya Pradesh
    • Corbett national park, Uttarakhand
    • Kaziranga national park, Assam
  1. Biosphere Reserves – Biosphere is that part of the earth in which living organisms exist or which supports life. A biosphere reserve is a large area of protected land for conservation of wild life, plant & animal resources & the traditional life of the tribes living in the area

There are about 15 biosphere reserves in India. Some of the popular ones are

    • Sunderbans, West Bengal
    • Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
    • Nilgiri biosphere reserve, Tamil Nadu/ Kerala/ Karnataka

These are protected areas where it is prohibited to fell tree and harm the animals

7.2.2      Preserving the Ecosystem

An ecosystem comprises of all the plants, animals and microorganisms of an area along with non-living components like climate, soil, rivers etc

In an ecosystem, all the components depend on each other for survival

Species is a group of population which are capable of interbreeding i.e., the members of species can reproduce fertile offspring only with the members of their own species & not with members of other species.

Endemic Species – The species of plants and animals that are found exclusively in a particular area & are not found anywhere else naturally are called Endemic Species. These are obviously more valuable. Introducing newer species in their habitat may endanger their habitat and make them extinct. For example

  1. Sal and Wild Mango Trees are endemic plants of Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve
  2. Bison, Indian Giant Squirrel and Flying Squirrel are endemic animals of Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve

Endangered Species – Animals whose number are diminishing to a level that they might face extinction are called as endangered species. Survival of these endangered species has become difficult due to disturbances in their natural habitat.

The endangered species are further classified into 3 categories based on the magnitude of the issues surrounding their survival

  1. Critically Endangered. For example
    1. Ganges Shark
    2. Himalayan Wolf
    3. Indian Vulture
  2. Endangered. For example
    1. Asiatic Black Bear
    2. Asiatic Lion
    3. Ganges River Dolphin
  3. Vulnerable
    1. Andaman Horseshoe Bat
    2. Andaman Rat
    3. Bare-bellied Hedgehog

Migration & Migratory birds – These birds cover long distances to reach another land as the weather in their natural habitat becomes very cold & inhospitable are called Migratory birds & this process is called as Migration.

Examples of migratory birds coming to India are

  1. Siberian Cranes
  2. Greater Flamingo
  3. Asian Koel
  4. Cuckoos

7.2.3      Other ways of conservation of forests

There are simple ways in which we can contribute to the conservation of forests and the flora and fauna of that region.

  1. Recycling of Paper – Huge quantity of wood is required to make paper. Trees are being cut to obtain wood from which paper can be made. So, to save tree, we should save paper & recycle it. Paper can be recycled 5-7 times.
  2. Reforestation – It is restocking of the destroyed forests by planting new trees. Reforestation can be done by man as well as it can happen on it sown if the deforested area is left undisturbed.