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Types and Distribution of Forests and Wildlife

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Types and Distribution of Forests and Wildlife - Lesson Summary

Most of the forest and wildlife resources are owned by the Government of India, and managed through several departments like the Forest Department. Forests are divided into three types: Reserved Forests, Protected Forests and Unclassed Forests.

Over 50% of the forests in India have been declared reserved forests. The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra have a large percentage of their forests classified as reserved forests.

Around one-third of the forests in India are classified as protected forests. Most parts of the forests in Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan are classified as protected forests. Reserved and protected forests are together called permanent forest estates. Madhya Pradesh has the largest share of permanent forests in India, with almost 75% of its forests classified as permanent forests.

All the forests and wastelands other than the reserved and protected forests are considered unclassed forests. Most of the forests in the north-eastern states of India and Gujarat are unclassed forests. Religious faith has led to the conservation of certain specific types of trees in different parts of India. Parts of forests or complete forests are protected by communities since they are considered to be abodes of gods and goddesses. Such protected forest areas are called sacred groves.

Several animals are also considered sacred, and, therefore, not harmed. Another reason for community participation in conservation efforts is the concern for their own survival. Many tribal communities are actively helping government officials in their conservation efforts. Local villagers cited the Wildlife Protection Act to fight against the ongoing mining activity inside the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan.

In Alwar district of Rajasthan, people from 5 villages have declared 1,200 hectares of forest as the Bhairodev Dakav Sanctuary with a set of regulations that forbid hunting and encroachments. The Chipko Movement started in 1970 in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand, where people, including women and children, hugged trees to prevent them from being cut. Farmers and citizen groups like Beej Bachao Andolan in Tehri, Uttarakhand and Navdanya are also aiming to conserve the environment by reviving traditional methods of farming.

Orissa made a pioneering effort in this direction by launching the Joint Forest Management or JFM program in 1988.  Under the Joint Forest Management program, local village communities participate in conservation efforts on degraded forestland. In return, the communities get the benefits of using the forest produce and a share in the timber harvested on the protected forest land.

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