Karnataka is spread across a geographical area of 191,791 square km (74,051 sq. mi). The recorded forest area of Karnataka is 43,356.47 sq. km, as per the annual report of the state’s Forest Department for the year 2014-15.
Karnataka’s forest area is about 22.61% of the state’s geographical area. It accounts for around 6.18% of India’s total forest area of 701,673 sq. km.
The percentage of Karnataka’s forest area in comparison to its geographical area is slightly lower than the all-India average of around 23%. The percentage recommended by the National Forest Policy is 33%.
Karnataka is one such state where it has magnificent forests in the India. From the evergreen forests of Western Ghat to scrub or thorny forests in plain areas.
- Evergreen and Semi-evergreen:
An evergreen forest is a forest consisting entirely or mainly of evergreen trees that retain green foliage all year round and Semi-evergreen forests are generally considered as a transitional stage between evergreen and moist deciduous forests. These forests are characterised by ever¬green trees mixed with deciduous having typical features like less dense canopy, grew gariousness, frequent buttressed trunks, thicker and rougher barks, and heavy climbers. Ex: Dipterocarpus indicus, Hopea parivflora,Myristica fauna, Gymnacranthera canarica, Vateria indica etc.,
- Moist Deciduous:
Temperate deciduous forests are located in the areas that has moderate rainfall and temperature and with cold winters. These are the typical monsoon forests in areas where the amount of annual rainfall ranges between 100 cm and 150 cm with mean annual temperature of 24°C to 27°C, and humidity percentage of 60 to 80. They mostly occur along the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, north-eastern part of the Peninsula . teak (Tectona gradis) are commercially the most significant species; occupying the relatively wetter north-eastern parts of the Peninsula. Ex: Terminalia, Largerstroemia, preterocarpus, Xylia, Tectona and Anogeissus etc.,
- Dry Deciduous Forest:
The tropical deciduous forests shed leaves during December (in Northern Hemisphere) as water becomes scarce. This type is a degraded version of the moist deciduous. It occupies a vast area of the country between moist deciduous (in the east) and tropical thorn (in the west) forests. Ex: Acacias, Hardwikicia, Neem, Pongamia, Somida, Santalam albam, Ficus etc.,
- Scrub and Thorny Forest:
These forests are confined to areas where the rainfall is very low. Here due to paucity of rainfall the trees are stunted with large patches of coarse grasses. The typical vegetation consists of widely spaced acacias, euphorbias including the typical spiny and thorny varieties and clumps of wild palms (Phoenix Sylvester’s) here and there. Ex: Acacia species, Balanites roxburghii, Cordia myxa, Capparis spp., Prosopis spp., Azadirachta indica, Cassia fistula, Diospyros chloroxylon, Carissa carandas, and Phoenix sylvestris etc.,
These forests are mainly grass lands and waste land.
Need for conservation of forests in Karnataka
Forest is one of the major forms of natural landscape. The forest resources form an integral part of the ecosystem. Due to the ever-increasing population and consequent landlessness, the encroachment of forestland is on the rise.
The unchecked exploitation of forest resources has become a major threat to the conservation of forest and its resources in Karnataka. Fragmentation and honeycombing of forest areas are causing the loss of corridor for movement of wild animals.
Karnataka also has patches of private forests that require protection. Smuggling of timber and poaching of wild animals are posing serious threats to the forest resources of the state. Adequate measures must be taken in order to halt the decline of forest resources. There must be a conscious effort on part of the government as well as citizen for the conservation of forest.
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