Natural Vegetation & Wildlife

Learning Goals:

Mediterranean Vegetation: The west and south west margins of continents are different from the east and north east margins. While most of the east and north east margins are covered by temperate evergreen and deciduous forests the west and south west margins have Mediterranean vegetation.

Mediterranean regions are known as the ‘orchards of the world’ because of their fruit cultivation. The trees in this region adapt themselves to the dry summers with the help of their thick barks and wax coated leaves which reduce transpiration.


Since these are found in the areas around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, Africa and Asia; these are called Mediterranean vegetation. This kind of vegetation is also found outside the actual Mediterranean region such as in California in the USA, South west Africa, South western South America and South west Australia. These regions experience dry summers and mild rainy winters.

Citrus fruits such as oranges, olives, grapes and figs are grown here. The natural vegetation has been removed so that people can cultivate what they want to. Much wildlife is not found in these regions.

Coniferous forests: These are found in the higher latitudes (50o - 70o ) of Northern hemisphere. These are also called ‘Taiga’. Taiga means pure or untouched in the Russian language. The trees found here are tall, softwood evergreen trees, e.g. chir, pine and cedar.

The woods of these trees are used for making pulp which is used for manufacturing paper and newsprint. These are also used for making matchboxes and packing boxes. The common animals found here are silver fox, mink, and polar bear.


Grasslands

These are of two types; tropical grasslands and temperate grasslands.

Tropical Grasslands: These are found on the either side of the equator and extend till the tropics. This vegetation grows in the areas of moderate to low amount of rainfall. Its features are:

Temperate Grasslands: These are found in the mid – latitudinal zones and the interior part of the continents. The grass over here is short and nutritious. The wildlife comprises of wild buffaloes, bisons and antilopes.

Grasslands are known by different names in different regions which is as follows:

RegionName
East AfricaSavanna
BrazilCampos
VenezuelaLlanos
ArgentinaPampas
N. AmericaPariries
South AfricaVeld
Central AsiaSteppe
AustraliaDown

Thorny bushes

These are found in dry desert-like regions. Tropical deserts are found on the western margins of the continents. Because of scanty rain and the scorching heat, vegetation is scarce.

In the polar region, where the climate is extremely cold, the growth of natural vegetation is very limited. The vegetation here, which grows only during the very short summer, consists of: Mosses, Lichens and Very small shrubs.

The vegetation mentioned above is called the Tundra type of vegetation. It is found in the polar areas of Europe, Asia and North America. Some of the animals found here are; seal, walrus, arctic owl, polar bear, snow fox, etc. These animals have thick skin and thick fur to protect themselves from the cold climate.

Conservation of Wildlife and Forests:

Conservation of forests and animals is very important for our long term well being. The large scale deforestation and the resultant loss of natural habitat for animals are resulting in problems like soil erosion, lack of greenery, extinction of animals etc.

In the 1970s, an organized resistance to the destruction of forests spread throughout India and came to be known as the Chipko movement. The name of the movement comes from the word 'embrace', as the villagers hugged the trees, and prevented the contractors from felling them.

An Endangered (EN) species is a species which has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “Endangered" is the second most severe conservation status for wild populations in the IUCN's scheme after Critically Endangered (CR).



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