Man depends heavily on a larger number of plant and animal products from forests for his daily needs. The chief product that forests supply is wood, which is used as fuel, raw material for various industries as pulp, paper, newsprint, board, timber for furniture items, other uses as in packing articles, matches, sports goods etc.
Indian forests also supply minor products like gums, resins, dyes, tannins, fibers, etc.
Many of the plants are utilized in preparing medicines and drugs; Total worth of which is estimated to be more than $300 billion per year.
Many forests lands are used for mining, agriculture, grazing, and recreation and for development of dams.
Depending upon the climate conditions, forest may be classified as:
Tropical Rain Forests: They are evergreen broadleaf forests found near the equator. They are characterized by high temperature, high humidity and high rainfall, all of which favor the growth of trees.
Tropical deciduous forests: They are found a little away from the equator and are characterized by a warm climate the year round. Rain occurs only during monsoon.
Tropical scrub forests: They are found in areas where the day season is even longer. Temperate rain forests: They are found in temperate areas with adequate rainfall. These are dominated by trees like pines, firs, redwoods etc.
Temperate deciduous forests: They are found in areas with moderate temperatures.
Evergreen coniferous forests (Boreal Forests): They are found just south of arctic tundra. Here winters are long, cold and dry. Sunlight is available for a few hours only.
2 Ecological uses
The ecological services provided by our forests may be summed up as follows:
Production of Oxygen: The main green house gas carbon dioxide is absorbed by the forests as a raw material for photo synthesis. Thus forest canopy acts as a sink for carbon dioxide thereby reducing the problem of global warming caused by green house gas CO2
Wild life habitat: Forests are the homes of millions of wild animals and plants. About 7 million species are found in the tropical forests alone.
Regulation of hydrological Cycle: Forested watersheds act like giant sponges, absorbing the rainfall, slowing down the runoff. They control climate through transpiration of water and seed clouding.
Soil Conservation: Forests bind the soil particles tightly in their roots and prevent soil erosion. They also act as wind breakers.
Pollution moderators: Forests can absorb many toxic gases and can help in keeping the air pure and in preventing noise pollution.
3 Over Exploitation of Forests
Man depends heavily on forests for food, medicine, shelter, wood and fuel.
With growing civilization the demands for raw material like timber, pulp, minerals, fuel wood etc. shot up resulting in large scale logging, mining, road-building and clearing of forests.
Our forests contribute substantially to the national economy.
The international timber trade alone is worth over US $ 40 billion per year.
The devasting effects of deforestation in India include soil, water and wind erosion, estimated to cost over 16,400 cores every year.