Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Notable forests of South Asia

Forests may not be inhabited by human beings but they have major contributions in our lives. Aside from providing woods and various plants, the forest play a major role when it comes to the betterment of the weather and climate of the country. Every country in the world must have certain level of green areas for better climate otherwise the population faces serious trouble. Forest plays a major role the economy of South Asia. In this post I am going to write about the forests in seven South Asian countries:


Though Nepal is famous for the Himalayas and the Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, to the rest of the world, the country has forest that is rich in flora and fauna. Nepal contains a wide variety of forests such as tree less subalpin pasture, dense fir forests of the high valleys, oak and rhododendron woods of the middle hills and tall sal forests of the south. The tropical deciduous monsoon forest occupies the Terai plains and the broad flat valleys situated between hill ranges. Shorea robusta or the Sal tree is the dominant tree species in this region. The subtropical mixed evergreen forest is situated in the surrounding areas of Mahabharat Lekh, a east-west mountain range that is 1500 to 3,000 meters high across Nepal.Major tree species of this region are Castenopsis indica, Schima wallichi, Alnus nepalensis, Acer oblongum and various species of oak and rhododendron.


India is the largest country in the South Asian region and very rich in bio-diversity. It has a wide variety of forests small, medium and big. Some of the forests are situated between borders of two countries. A total of 3,166,414 square kilometers of India are covered with forest. The forests differ according to rainfall, altitude, topography, and latitude. The Assam region in the North East India offers a rich bio-diversity. The area is filled with lush green hills, pastures, tea gardens, river plains and wilderness. It has an area of 78,438 square kilometers. The major types of forests in these regions are the tropical wet evergreen forests, tropical semi-evergreen forests, tropical moist deciduous forest, sub-tropical broad leaved hill, sub-tropical pine and littoral and swamp forests.


Bangladesh is a small country but it has a rich and diverse forest resource. The forests of Bangladesh can be divided into three categories: hill forests, plain Sal forests and Mangrove littoral forests. The hill forests contain most of the productive forests areas and it has a huge contribution in the economy followed by the Sundarbans, the famous mangrove forest and home of Royal Bengal Tiger. The hill forests are situated between the Indian subcontinent floristic region and the Indo-China floristic region. The hill forest is then divided into various small forests. The Plain Sal forests is the least productive and endangered forest of Bangladesh. These forests are situated in most of the lowlands and flood plains in the central and western part of Bangladesh. The Sal forests consists of pure sal forest that consists of 100% Sal that grew on shallow dry and less productive soils in the north of Dhaka and was frequently burned. There are mixed Sal forests consisting of Terminalia bellerica, Albizzia procera, Lagerstroemia spp and Ficus species. Then there is the mangrove forests divided in three groups –the Sundarbans, coastal char forests, and coastal area forest from Chokoria to Teknaf.


Maldives is a small island country situated on the south-west of Indian ocean. It consists of a 1192 small islands two fifty of which are inhabited. Most of the country consists of wetlands and water bodies. I could not find any detailed information on forests in Maldives. According to Mongabay.com has less than 2,500 acres of forest and the country is severely suffering from deforestation problems.

Sri Lanka forest:

Though Sri Lanka has seen rapid deforestation over the past decade, forests of Sri Lanka are very rich in flora and fauna. It has the highest density of species diversity in the world. The forest is home various animals including amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles. In 2005, wild life researchers discovered 35 new frog species in the region. The country is known as the hotspot of the global biodiversity. The island is home to 3210 flowering plant species of which 916 are endemic. The southwest corner of Sri Lanka is covered with rain forest. The northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka are considerably drier which is covered by a tropical dry broadleaf forest. These forests have been cleared due to agriculture and timber. The long running civil war is also another major cause of deforestation.


Bhutan is the only country in the world that emphasize on Gross National Happiness instead of Gross Domestic Product. In this twenty first century, where every country is trying its best to become highly industrialized, Bhutan is trying to follow the path of spiritualism. Thanks to GNP, since it is not so focused on increasing industry, most of the country’s natural resources have remained intact. In Bhutan, there are nine broad categories of forest: fir, mixed conifer, blue pine, chir pine, broadleaved mixed with conifers, broadleaved, and forest scrub. The mixed conifer forests occupy the largest area in the country of about 486,710 ha. The forest offer several tree species including Picea spinulosa, hemlock, larch, rhododendron, bamboo and various shrubs. The blue pine forests can be found in the Ha, Paro and Thimpu valleys in the West and Bumthang and Gyetsa valleys.


Pakistan’s land mass can be divided into two general categories: alluvial plain and sand-dunal deserts. Five rivers run through the country including namely, Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej. Hence, the country has a rich forest resource. There is the littoral and Swamp forests which can be found around the coast of Karachi and Pasni in Balochistan. There tropical dry deciduous forests are available in the Rawalpindi foothills. They are facing extinction from cultivation. The chief tree species of these forests are: Lannea (Kamlai, Kembal) Bombax ceiba (Semal), Sterculia, Flacourtia (Kakoh, Kangu), Mallotus (Kamila, Raiuni) and Acacia catechu (Kath). Common shrubs are Adhatoda (Bankar, Basuti, Bansha), Gymnosporia (Putaki) and Indigofera (Kathi, Kainthi). Tropical thorn forests occupies the entire Indus plain except the driest parts. The major tree species are Prosopis cineraria (Jhand), Capparis decidua (Karir, Karil), Zizyphus mauritiana (Ber), Tamarix aphylla (Farash) and Salvadora oleoides (Pilu, wan). The forests also contains large number of shrubs of all sizes.


Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations-Bangladesh

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations- Bhutan

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations- Pakistan

Wikipedia-Ecoregions of India

Wikipedia-Fauna of India

Wikipedia-Flora of India

Wikipedia-Mahabharat Lekh

Indian Wildlife Portal


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