India > Environment > Indian Forests

Types of Indian Forest

India is the tenth most forest-rich country in the world along with 778,424 sq. km (77.8 million hectares) of forests area, which is also 24.68% of the total land area of India. A naturally diverse vegetation, approximately 45,500 different species of flora have been found in the Indian forests; where 5,000 species are available in India only.

India is a diverse country, where some region is well-known for the most wet area in the world, but some part is on the dry desert, a large area is on the coastline, some part is on the Himalayan alpine region, river deltas to tropical islands region are also available in India. India is one of the 17 Megadiverse countries in the World, belongs in the four bio-diverse hotspots - The Western Ghats and Sri Lanka, The Eastern Himalayas, Indo-Burma, Sundaland.

Indian forests perform an important role to make a healthy environment and it reduce air pollutions. Indian forests can be classified in six major groups namely, 1. Moist tropical forest, 2. Dry tropical forest, 3. Montane sub-tropical forest, 4. Montane temperate forest, 5. Sub-alpine forest and 6. Alpine forest.

Moist tropical Forest

Where the amounts of annual rainfall ranges between 200 and 250 cm, the mean annual temperature lies between 24 and 27 and humidity percentage is 80, the evergreen forests degenerate into semi evergreen forests; such forests are found along the Western Coast, in Upper Assam, lower slopes of the eastern Himalaya, Orissa coast and neighboring hills.

Important plant varieties include bamboos, epiphytes, Aini, Semul, Gutel, mundane, Hopea, Benteak, Kadam Irul, rosewood, Haldu, Kanju, Bijasal, Kusum, Bomsum, Indian chestnut, Litsea, Holloch, Champa and Mesua etc.

Dry tropical Forest

This types of forests mainly found in Indian Northern Hilly regions and some states of Southern India. Basically, these forests are generated where average annual rainfall ranges varies from 51 cm to 151. Trees of these forests drop its leaves in winter (when the weather remains driest) and new leaves are generated after winter. During the rainy season these types of forest completely decorate lush green leaves. Some significant trees of Dry Tropical Forest are Sal, Acacia, Mangoes and Bamboo.

Montane temperate Forest

These types of forests are mainly generated in Northern middle Himalayas ranges (1801 to 3001 Meters) and Southern Nilgiri higher Mountain ranges. It takes about 201 cm average annual rainfalls to produce these types of forests. Some significant trees of Montane temperate Forest are Rhododendrons, Ferns, Oak, Maple, Juniper, Deodar, Chilgoza, etc.

Montane sub tropical Forest

These types of forests mainly generated in the state of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, etc. mountain ranges of Western Ghats are also the abode of these types' forests. Some significant trees of Montane sub tropical Forest are Poonspar, cinnamon, rhododendron, Sal, Sandan, Laburnum, pomegranate, olive, oleander, etc.

Alpine Forest

These grasslands start at an elevation of above 3000m grow up to the region just below the snowline. They are common in both the main Himalayan regions as well as the barren cold deserts of the Tran Himalaya. Low alpine grasslands are common with the vegetation not growing higher than 1.5m.

Climatic conditions vary from the sub-arctic to arctic, with snow covering the ground for over 5 months a year. The growing season for the plants is thus stunted. Pastures are grazed by migratory cattle in summer. The vegetation consists mainly of the black juniper, the drooping juniper; honeysuckle and willow are the common trees.

Sub Alpine Forest

These forests are found between 2901 and 3501 meters, near the snow line all over the Himalayas and the dry cold deserts. Average temperatures in summers range from 20°C to 22°C. Winter temperatures are usually below the freezing point accompanied by lots of snow. Major common trees of this type forest are Juniper, Rhododendron, Willow and Black Currant. In the eastern parts, Red Fir, Black Juniper, Birch and Larch are the common trees.