Forests - Our Lifeline

Forests are our Lifeline. We all depend upon forests in some way or the other for survival. Forests provide us with fresh air to breathe, food, medicines, and other sources like wood, fodder and other raw materials for the industries. Forests prevent soil erosion and hold the earth firmly.

What is a Forest?

Forest is a dense land or a complex ecosystem consisting mainly of trees that buffer the ecosystem and support a variety of life forms. The trees maintain the environment of the surroundings which in turn affects the plants and animals living in the forest. They are an important component of the environment that purify the air, cool the air during the day and act as excellent sound absorbers.

They can develop wherever the average temperature is more than 10°C in the warmest month with the average rainfall exceeding 200 mm annually.

India shares a history of traditional conservation and management of forests. The annual festival of tree plantation called Vanmahotsava was started by the Indian Government and was first implemented in the state of Gujarat.

Also, read Forest

Structure of Forest

The evergreen forests have a specific structure. It is organized in layers which are maintained by the abiotic factors such as sunlight, wind, humidity, etc.

Let us have a detailed look at the structure of forest and the different layers it is made up of:

Emergent Layer

This layer is made up of very tall trees with straight branch-free trunks with a crown at the top. They have supporting buttress roots spreading upto about 20-30 ft. The leaves are small and pointed that are structured to withstand strong winds at the tree top.

The trees receive constant sunlight. Humming birds and parrots are commonly found in this layer.  Light animals such as sloth and spider monkeys reside here.

Canopy

This layer stops sunlight and water from reaching the underneath layers. The trees have broader leaves and drip spouts. This helps the rainwater drip down quickly rather than staying on the leaves.

Common animals found in this layer include squirrels, monkeys, reptiles, bats, and a variety of birds. Due to thick leaves, visibility is low in this region.

Understory

This layer has few trees but a lot of shrubs and small trees growing upto a height of 12 feet. The area comprises of buttress roots from the tall trees, climbers, ferns and branches extending downwards. Very little sunlight reaches here. The leaves and trunks are covered with fungi, mosses, mildew and algae.

This layer is wet, humid and dark and is an abode to thousands of mosquitoes and bugs. The animals found in this layer include frogs, insects, snakes, beetles, butterflies and termites.

Forest Floor

This is the ground level of the structure. The soil is shallow with microorganisms feeding on the decaying matter on the floor. The moist and dark conditions help in the decay of organic matter and nutrient absorption by the trees. Most of the heavyweight carnivorous and herbivorous animals are found in this layer.

Importance of Forest

There is numerous importance of the forest as it helps us by providing all the useful products which are required for our lives. Some of them are listed here.

Forests provide us with – Firewood, Timber, Wood pulp, Honey, lac, medicinal plants and herbs, raisin, biofertilizers, etc. Forests also supply us with the different types of raw materials for industrial uses, fodder for the animal’s feed, fuel, and fibres.

Along with these essential products, forests also play an important role in protecting our environment by:

  • Promoting rainfall.
  • Reduces noise pollution.

  • Maintains the ecological balance.

  • Acts as a wind barrier from heavy winds.

  • Provide moisture and lower the temperature.

  • Prevents flash floods by slowing down the movement of water.

  • Preventing soil erosion and preserve the fertility of the soil.

  • Maintains the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the environment.

  • Preserves the biodiversity by providing shelter for many creatures that depend on the forest for their survival.

Deforestation

The forests are being destroyed continuously to make the land available for other uses. Forests are the natural source of resources. With the advent of industrialization, forests have been constantly depleted for raw materials. Also with the rising population, there is competition for food and space. This had led to the depletion of forests on a large scale.

Deforestation has affected the climate and in turn our lives. There is a shortage of rainfall. The resources are also depleting rapidly and will not be available in future. The temperature is rising tremendously which has led to the melting of glaciers which has increased the water levels.

The weather changes and earthquakes are a result of deforestation. The trees hold the earth firmly. Due to the forest depletion, the grip of the earth is loosened which causes frequent earthquakes.

Thus we see how forests act as our lifeline. It is very important to preserve the forests. Forest is the natural resources which are being destroyed by the humans for their use. We should conserve this natural resource as it is one of the fundamental constituents for the sustainability of life on the earth.

Facts about Forests

  • Forests play an essential role in the existence of life on earth.

  • 80% of the world’s animal species depend on the forests for their homes

  • Forests are the lungs of our planet. It plays a crucial role in improving air quality.

  • Forests are storehouses of biodiversity. As per the estimations, there are around three trillion trees globally.

  • Forests are the treasures of medicines. There are 5000 years old plants and about 60% of the medicines are originated from the rainforest.

Important Questions for you:

Q.1 What are the benefits of the forest?

A.1. Forests play a fundamental role in the wellbeing of life forms on the planet earth. Listed below are some of the major benefits of forests:

  1. Prevent soil erosion
  2. Maintains its climate
  3. Purifies the air in the atmosphere
  4. Controls the increasing temperatures
  5. Serves as a home for a vast range of plants, trees, and animals

Q.2. List out the different types of forests?

A.2. There are different types of forest and are broadly classified into:

  1. Tropical forests, include- Evergreen,  Seasonal, Dry, cloud forests, Tropical and subtropical.
  2. Temperate forests include- Temperate deciduous and coniferous forests
  3. Boreal forests also called as the Taiga forests

Stay tuned with BYJU’S Biology to learn more about the Forests Our Lifeline, the structure of forests, their importance and some related facts about deforestation. You can also download BYJU’S app for further reference.

 

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