IMPORTANCE OF FORESTS
A forest is a biotic community spread over a large land and is predominantly composed of trees, shrubs, and woody climbers, often with a closed canopy.
Importance of Forests:
Forests are the invaluable wealth of a nation, and a renewable natural resource. They are of immense importance to man in the following ways:
– The heaviest demand of forests is for fuelwood in the developing countries. Over 1,500 million people use wood as a source of energy for cooking and keeping warm.
– Timber is the basic material for building houses. It is used for making furniture, railway sleepers and compartments, buses, trucks, carts, boats, ships, docks, bridges, sports goods, poles, ploughs, tool handles, matches and toys.
– Bamboos are used for making rafters, scaffolding, roofing, walling, flooring, matting, for making baskets, cots and kites.
– Newspaper, writing paper, stationery, sanitary paper and many other kinds of paper are produced from wood and bamboo pulp.
– Canes are sold stems of slender palms. They are used for making furniture, walking sticks, umbrella handles, sports goods and ropes.
– Forest tribes take tubers, roots, leaves, and fruits of plants as food
- Forest products:
– Forests provide a large number of important products such as essential oils (from rosha grass, khas and sandalwood), natural camphor (from laurel tree), tannins, resins, gums, drugs, species, poisons, insecticides, soap substitute (ritha and shikakai), bidi wrappers (tendu leaves), ornamental seed rudraksha, and distillation products (wood alcohol, acetic acid, lampblack, oxalic acid, charcoal)
– Forests help in maintaining oxygen content of the atmosphere.
– Forests provide shelter and food to a variety of plants (mosses, ferns), animals (insects, reptiles, birds, mammals), and micro-organisms.
- Improvement of soil:
– Dead fallen leaves of the trees decay and form humus that increases the porosity and fertility of the soil.
- Protection of environment:
– Forests protect the environment by preventing soil erosion. This is achieved in four different ways:
o Roots firmly bind the soil
o Leaves reduce the force of the raindrops to keep soil intact.
o Trees decrease the velocity of the wind to prevent dislodging of soil particles.
o Shade of trees keeps the soil cool and moist in summer to offset the eroding effect of the wind.
- Control of water flow:
– A thick layer of humus on the floor of the forest absorbs and holds rainwater like a sponge. This allows a gradual runoff of water to prevent flash floods and also does not allow quick evaporation of water to streams, springs, and wells.
- Reduction of atmospheric pollution:
– Forests reduce atmospheric pollution by using carbon dioxide and by collecting suspended particulate matter on their leaves.
- Aesthetic value:
– Forests give a beautiful and pleasing look. They figure in art and literature. They have been the abode of rishis.
- Miscellaneous products:
– Lac, honey, mogasilk are obtained from forest insects. Forests also provide hundreds of drugs, spices, poisons, and insecticides.
- Educative value:
– Forest act as nature’s laboratories and have contributed to the study and research in various branches of fundamental and applied sciences.
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