Forests are important as they are renewable resources that affect our environment in a variety of ways. They control climate, soil erosion and pollution. Forests support a variety of industries, helping provide livelihood for many communities.
There are very few areas left in India where the vegetation can be called natural in the true sense of the word like the Himalayas, the hilly region of Central India and the marusthali, parts of the desert. According to the Environment Atlas of India, June 2001, the actual forest cover in India in 2001 was only 20.55%.
A number of factors have caused extensive modification of vegetation and depletion of forest cover:
- Growing demand for cultivated land,
- The development of industries and mining,
- Urbanisation, and
- Over-grazing of pastures.
The Van Mahotsav is a forest festival started in 1950 by K. M. Munshi with the purpose to create enthusiasm among the masses for forest conservation and planting trees. Vegetation varies across areas because plants grow in distinct groups of communities, where each community belongs to an area with similar climatic conditions.
Together, the flora, the fauna and the physical environment of an area form an ecosystem. Human beings have a huge impact on an ecosystem. They utilize the vegetation and wild life, for food, medicine, and a variety of other purposes. When the utilization of these resources is not regulated, ecological imbalance can result.
A very large ecosystem on land with distinct types of vegetation and animal life is called a biome. An ecosystem can be as large as a desert and as small as a puddle. A biome is much bigger than an ecosystem.
Biomes are identified on the basis of plants. Mountains, deserts, grasslands, oceans and wetlands are all examples of biomes.