Flora & Fauna in Uttar Pradesh

Flora & Fauna in Uttar Pradesh speak volume about bio-diversity and environment. Centuries ago Uttar Pradesh, covered with primeval forests, was known as Vansudha (वसुधा), i.e., abode of forests. Mention of the Naimasharanya (नैमिषारण्य) and Khandaw Van (खांडव वन) throw sufficient light on the occurrence of vast and thick forests in ancient times. About three millennia of human occupancy made the forests yield to plough and clear more and more land for cultivating food grains to feed the multiplying numbers of human beings who, on the other hand, were changing from nomad-ism to cultivation. Being totally ignorant of the functions and effects of forests oh soil, climate and human life the man soon upset the much needed balance between fields and forests. Now it is too late when man has realized the disastrous results of his reckless cutting of forests and destroying of the natural resources beneficial to him. Excessive, uncontrolled and overgrazing of forests and meadows and reckless and unscientific felling of valuable trees have led to the problems of soil erosion by water, soil desiccation by winds, water-logging by floods and silting of river courses which, in the wake of devastating floods, resulted in huge loss of human life and property. Forests are a very useful organ of economy. Besides supplying fuel, timber and raw material to forest based industries the forests, by way of regulating water regime, help in the conservation of soils and their fertility. The organic matter added by the forests to soil adds humus to the fertility of mother earth and also enhances the water retaining capacity of the soil. The forest belts act as barriers against wind erosion, desiccation and onward march of sands by wind.

The existing flora in Uttar Pradesh can be classified into three categories: wet tropical deciduous forests, dry tropical deciduous forests, and tropical thorny forests. Wet tropical forests are situated in areas, which receive an annual rainfall of 100 to 150 centimeters, a special feature of which is that deciduous trees of uneven shapes and sizes are to be found in elevated areas, while the low-lying areas have a significant presence of bamboo, creepers and climbers, as also cane together with green bushes, the trees that grow chiefly in these forests are: sal, plum, goolar, palash, mahua, amla, dhak, jamun etc.

Dry deciduous forests are to be generally found in the plains of almost the whole of central and western regions of the state. Bushes and grasses grow here in abundance because of sunlight travelling right upto the ground level. Large tracts of land have, however, been cleared for agricultural purposes in these forests where sal, fig, palash and teak besides trees such as neem, peepal, mango, jamun, mahua and acacia grow around rivers or in places containing moisture. Thorny forests abound, mostly, in the south western parts of the state where rainfall is scanty (40 to 60 cms annually). Long stretches of land are covered with thorny, scurvy bushes and stunted trees, mainly acacia and other fruit-bearing prickly plants. The land appears to be carpeted, temporarily, by short grass during the monsoon. Altogether, this part of the state is permanently open dry woodland in which a variety of trees grow, yielding resin and gum.

Wildlife depends on forests both for food and habitat. The diversity of the fauna in Uttar Pradesh is determined, in some measure, by the diversity of vegetation. A very large number of species of fauna living in water, on land and in the air is found in the state. To sample a few important ones: Fish - Mahaseer, Hilsa, Saul, Tengan, Parthan, Rasela, Vittal, Rohu, Mrigal, Kotta, Labi, Mangur, Cuchia, Eel, Singhi, Mirror Carp, Trout etc. Amphibia - Frog, Toad, Iguana, Tortoise, Crocodile etc. Reptiles - Bamania, Pit-viper, Lizard, Goh, Cobra, Krait, Dhaman etc. Aves - Cheel, Vulture, Peacock, Nightingale, Pigeon, Parrot, Owl, Nilkanth and Sparrow, Pheasant, Partridge, Florican, Duck, Goose and Wader. Mammals - Elephant, Tiger, Panther, Sambhar, Cheetal, Chinkara, Black Deer, Nilgai, Black and Brown Bear, Porcupine, Mongoose, Hare, Squirrel, Cat, Dog, Wolf, Hyena, Shrew, Mouse, Goal, Cow, Buffalo etc.

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