Biodiversity: The variety of flora and fauna in a given geographical area is called biodiversity of that area.
India is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of its vast array of biological diversity, and has nearly 8 per cent of the total number of species in the world (estimated to be 1.6 million).
|Flora & Fauna in India|
|Fauna||More than 81,000 species|
|Flora||More than 47,000 species|
|Indigenous flowering plants||About 15,000 species|
|Endangered wild flora||About 10%|
|Endangered mammals||About 20%|
Cheetah, pink-headed Duck, Mountain Quail, Forest Spotted Owl, madhucha insignis (wild mahua), hubbardia heptaneuron (a grass species)
Number of Endangered Species: 79 species of mammals, 44 of birds, 15 of reptiles, and 3 of amphibians, 1,500 plant species are considered endangered.
|Forest cover||637,293 sq km (19.39% of total geographic area)|
Agricultural Expansion: According to the Forest Survey of India, over 262,000 sq km of forest area was converted into agricultural land in India between 1951 and 1980. Moreover, a substantial part of the tribal belts has been deforested or degraded by shifting cultivation.
Enrichment Plantation: Enrichment plantation was done to promote a few favoured species in many parts of India. This practice involves plantation of a single commercially valuable species. This leads to elimination of other species.
Development Projects: Large scale development projects have also contributed significantly to the loss of forests. Over 5,000 sq km of forest was cleared for river valley projects since 1951.
Mining: Mining has also caused large scale depletion of flora and fauna in many areas. For example; the ongoing dolomite mining is seriously threatening the Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal.
Unequal Access to Resources: Social inequality is another major factor to depletion of flora and fauna. The rich people consume much more than the poor and thus cause a higher degree of environmental damage.
In many societies, it is the women who are responsible for collection of fuel, fodder, water and other basic subsistence needs. Depletion of these resources means women need to work harder to collect those resources. At some places, women may have to walk more than 10 km to collect firewood. This causes serious health problems for women.
Deforestation induced flood and draught result in economic misery for the poor.
Deforestation also leads to loss of cultural diversity. The marginalized people who had been traditionally dependent on forest for sustenance are now forced to look for other sources of livelihood. In order to do so, they are uprooted from their traditional habitat and culture.
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