Natural vegetation refers to a plant community unaffected by man either directly or indirectly. Natural Vegetation has its existence in a certain natural environment.
Natural vegetation includes all plant life forms such as trees, bushes, herbs and forbs etc, that grow naturally in an area and have been left undisturbed by humans for a long time.
Climate, soil, and land-form characteristics are the important environmental controls of natural vegetation.
Types of Natural Vegetation
On the basis of the above factors the natural vegetation of India can be divided into the following types:
- Tropical Evergreen Forest
- Tropical Deciduous Forest
- Tropical Dry Forest
- Mountain or Montane Forest
- Alpine Forest
- Tidal Forest
- Coastal Forest
- Riverine Forest
Brief on Indian Natural Vegetation
Tropical Evergreen Forest
Tropical Evergreen Forests are found in areas with 200 cm or more annual rainfall. The annual temperature is about more than 22°C and the average annual humidity exceeds 70 percent in this region.
The most important trees are rubber, mahogany, ebony, rosewood, coconut, bamboo, cinchona, candes, palm, ironwood and cedar. These have not been fully exploited due to the lack of transport facilities.
Tropical Deciduous Forest
Tropical Deciduous Forests are found in the areas with 100 to 200 cm annual rainfall. These are called ‘Monsoon Forests’. The mean annual temperature of this region is about 27°C and the average annual relative humidity is 60 to 70 percent.
The trees of Tropical Deciduous Forests drop their leaves during the spring and early summer.
Teak and sal are the most important trees. Sandalwood, rosewood, Kusum, Mahua, palas, haldu, amla, padauk, bamboo, and tendu are the other trees of economic importance. These forests also provide fragrant oil, varnish, sandal oil, and perfumes.
Example of this type of Natural Vegetation are as below:
- Sub Himalayan – Region from Punjab to Assam,
- Great Plains- Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal,
- Central India – Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, South India – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, and Kerala
Tropical Dry Forest
Tropical Dry Forests are found in the areas with 50 to 100 cm. annual rainfall. Forests are representing a transitional type of forests. These forests are found in east Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Western Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Eastern Maharashtra, Telangana, West Karnataka and East Tamilnadu.
The important species are mahua, banyan, amaltas, palas, haldu, kikar, bamboo, babool, khair etc.,
Desert and Semi-desert Vegetation, these are also called as ‘Tropical thorn forests. These are found in the areas having annual rainfall of less than 50 cm.
They have low humidity and high temperature. These forests are found in north-west India which includes west Rajasthan, south-west Haryana, north Gujarat and south-west Punjab.
They are also found in the very dry parts of the Deccan plateau in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Babul, kikar, and wild palms are common trees found here.
Mountain or Montane Forest
Mountain or Montane Forests are classified on the basis of altitude and amount of rainfall. Accordingly, two different types of forests are:
- Eastern Himalayas Forests
- Western Himalayas Forests
Eastern Himalayan Forest
Eastern Himalayan Forests are found on the slopes of the mountains in north-east states. These forests receive rainfall of more than 200 cm. The vegetation is of evergreen type.
The Altitude between 1200-2400 m found in this type of forest sal, oak, laurel, amura, chestnut, cinnamon are the main trees from 1200 to 2400 m altitude oak, birch, silver, fir, fine, spruce and juniper are the major trees from 2400 to 3600 m height.
Western Himalayan Forest
Western Himalayan Forests are found in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The rainfall of Western Himalayan Forest region is moderate. Altitude semi desert vegetation is found upto 900 metres and it is known for bushes and small trees.
In altitude from 900 to 1800 metres, chir tree is the most common tree. The other important trees of this region are sal, semal, dhak, jamun and jujube. (height from 1800 to 3000 m is covered with semi temperate coniferous forests.) Chir, deodar, blue pine, poplar, birch and elder are the main trees of this region.
Alpine Forest occurs the Himalayas with above 2400 m altitude. Alpine Forests are purely having coniferous trees.
Alpine Forest having the tress of Oak, silver fir, pine and juniper. The eastern parts of Himalayas has large extent of these forests.
Tidal Forests occur in and around the deltas, estuaries and creeks prone to tidal influences. Tidal Forests are also known as delta or swamp forests.
The delta of the Ganga-Brahmaputra has the largest tidal forest. The deltas of Mahanadi, Godavari, and Krishna rivers are also known for tidal forests. These are also known as the mangrove forests.
Coastal Forests are littoral forests. Generally, coastal areas have these types of forests. Casurina, palm and coconut are the dominant trees.
Both the eastern and western coasts have this type of forest. The coasts of Kerala and Goa are known for Coastal Forest.
Riverine Forests are found along the rivers on Khadar areas. These are known for tamarisk and tamarind trees.
The rivers of Great Plains are more prominent for this type of natural vegetation.
- Physiographic Divisions of India
- Indian Rivers The drainage system of India
- Climate of India and Factors affecting Indian Climate
- Wildlife of India and Biosphere Reserves
- Types of Soil in India and Distribution of Indian Soil
- List of Islands of India
- Irrigation in India: Types and Methods of Irrigation in India