Natural Vegetation – Types of Natural Vegetation of India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The endowments of nature grown naturally based on climatic variables are known as natural vegetation. Based on the soil, climate, topography, and precipitation, there are various types of natural vegetation, such as Tropical Evergreen Rain forests, Montane Forests, Dry deciduous forests, etc. India is bestowed and engraved with a wide range of flora (flowers) and fauna (animals). Hence, India has an extensive range of vegetation due to the climatic condition and diverse geography.

Some examples of natural vegetation of India are evergreen forests, monsoon deciduous forests, dry thorny scrub, desert and tropical savanna. In this article, you will get to know all the necessary information regarding the types of natural vegetation from the UPSC exam point of view.

What is Natural Vegetation?

A community of a plant that has grown naturally without the aid of human beings is known as ‘Natural Vegetation’. Moreover, it has been left undisturbed by humans. In simple terms, the area that is not exploited by humans. Our country India ranks 12 among the other mega bio-diverse nations in the world. India has a total of 47,000 plant species, ranking 10th in the whole world and 4th in Asia. There are about 15,000 flowering plants which account for 6 per cent of the total flowering plants in the whole world. India has around 90,000 species of animals that also account for the natural vegetation.

Natural Vegetation of India PDF

The soil, climate and topography are the major factors that influence and affect the natural vegetation of India. Rainfall and temperature are the main climatic factors. Moreover, the amount of rainfall (measured in cm) plays a significant role. Likewise, the temperature is an important factor in hilly regions and the Himalayas (elevation of more than 900 meters). Soil and topography equally play a determining factor in a few regions of the country. For example, mangrove forests and swamp forests are deeply influenced by the soil. Similarly, the tidal forests and the alpine flora is influenced by the topography.

Types of Natural Vegetation in India

There are various types of natural vegetation in India based on the annual and spatial variation of the rainfall. Depending on different climatic variations, the natural vegetation of India can be classified into various types. Broadly there are 5 different types of vegetation in India which are as follows:

  1. Tropical Evergreen Forests
  2. Tropical Deciduous Forests (Monsoon Forests)
  3. Tropical Thorn Forests and Scrubs
  4. Mountain Forests
  5. Mangrove Forests (Tidal Forests)

Below we will discuss all these types of vegetation in India in detail.

Tropical Evergreen Forests:

The tropical evergreen forest is one of the types of natural vegetation which is found in the region that receives more than 200 cm of rainfall.

  • The tropical evergreen rainforest can widely be found in the regions of Meghalaya Nagaland, the Western Ghats, and the islands of Andaman and Nicobar groups.
  • Apart from that, the tropical evergreen rainforest can be found in the Hills of Jaintia and Khasi as well. The pace of growth of trees in these regions is very fast, and the predominant trees are Bamboo, Sandalwood, Garjan and Mahogany.
  • Its abundant Flora, which includes trees, bushes and creepers of various types, gives it a multilayered structure.
  • The tropical evergreen forests are home to many wildlife creatures. The most prevalent creatures in these locations are monkeys, lemurs, and elephants. Besides this, a wide variety of insects and birds can be spotted in these forests, like sloths, scorpions, snails etc. One-horned rhinoceros can also be found in the forest of Bengal and Assam.
  • The tropical evergreen forest can further be divided into three types of natural vegetation which are,
    • Moist Evergreen Forest found in the Western Ghats North East region and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The trees of moist evergreen forests are more than 60m tall.
    • Semi-Evergreen Forest found in Eastern Himalayas, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Western Ghats. The main species found in the semi-evergreen forest is white cedar.
    • Dry Evergreen Forests are found in the foothills of the Himalayas and Shivalik Hills and some parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The trees found in the dry evergreen forests are white and Shiny and have a varnished look like Olive and pomegranate.

Tropical Deciduous Forests (Monsoon Forests):

Tropical deciduous forests are the most widespread natural vegetation found in India. The tropical deciduous forests are also called the monsoon forest, which can be spotted in regions that receive rainfall between 70 cm to 200 cm.

  • It is the speciality of the trees found in These areas that they shed out their leaves every 6 to 8 weeks in summer.
  • The deciduous forests are widely found in the regions of the lower slope of the Himalayas and Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Karnataka, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and their surrounding regions.
  • The most prominent trees found in these areas of natural vegetation are Blue Gum, Pal Ash, Sal, Sandalwood, Arjun, Ebony, Bamboo, and Teak. The predominant species in the forest is Teak.
  • These words are further split into wet and dry deciduous depending on the availability of water supply.
  • The common animals found in the monsoon forest are elephants, pigs, lions, tigers, and Deer, along with a wide variety of birds and insects. Terrestrial tortoises are also found in some parts of the forests.
  • The tropical deciduous forest can further be divided into two types of natural vegetation:
    • The Moist deciduous forests are found in the radius of Orissa Easter slopes of Western Ghat, some of the North Eastern states and foothills of the Himalayas. The most popular trees found in These areas are Mahua, Amla, Kusum, and Sandalwood.
    • Dry deciduous forest is found in the entire Northern part of the country except North East along with some states of Central India and South India like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Tamilnadu. The main trees found in these forests are Axlewood, Bel, Amaltas and Tendu.

Learn the difference between Tropical Evergreen and Deciduous Forests here.

Tropical Thorn Forests and Scrubs:

Thorny trees and shrubs make up the natural vegetation in areas that receive rainfall less than 70 cm. The height of these trees does not go beyond 10 m.

  • This is the very hard kind of natural vegetation found in the semi-arid North Western areas of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat.
  • The chief plant species include Cactus Euphoria, Palms etc. Many trees and their great roots reach a long way into the floor to reap moisture for residing. This is because the stems of these plants are succulents in nature and save water for survival.
  • To reduce the amount of evaporation and loss of moisture from the plants, leaves are typically thick in size and have spines in addition.
  • A number of small and big animals are found in these forests, like mice, rats, wolves, tigers, horses and camels.
  • Some of the important trees that grow in this type of natural vegetation are Babul, Khair, Neem, Khejri, Palas, Ber, Kokko etc.

Mountain Forests:

The forests found in the mountain regions are called montane forests. The types of natural vegetation forests found in the mountain regions differ at every slope.

  • The average height of the forests found in the Himalayan region can reach up to the height of 1500 mt or more.
  • The most common types of trees found in the Himalayan regions are Pine, Sal, teak, Bamboo, etc. These forests can be found in the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • Apart from this, some temperate Conifer trees, Oak trees, and Fir trees can be found on the higher slopes of the Himalayan region. Rhododendrons are trees found on the more elevated slopes of the Himalayas. Alpine Meadows may be seen beyond these natural vegetation zones all the way to the snowfields.
  • Animals like Kashmiri Stag, Spotted Deer, Jack Rabbit, Tibetan Antelope, Leopards, Bears and Red Pandas can be found in the mountain forest in different regions.
  • The Mountain Forests can further be divided into three types of natural vegetation called,
    • Montane Wet Temperate Forests, found in the North East region of Nepal To Arunachal Pradesh, receive a minimum rainfall of 200cm. The height of the slope of the mountain best for these forests ranges between 1800 to 3000 m.
    • Montane Subtropical Forest is found in the regions of Northwest Himalayas like Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh Sikkim, except for Kashmir and Ladakh. The main trees found in these regions are Pine, Oak, Rhododendrons, and Jamun.
    • Himalayan Moist Forests are found in the region of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, hilly areas of West Bengal and some parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The main trees found in this region are Chestnuts, Sal Shrubs and other nutritional grasses.

Mangrove Forests (Tidal Forests):

Mangrove forests are also known as tidal forests that develop along the coast side and borders of deltas of rivers like Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Mahanadi, and Ganga.

  • These forests are also known as Sundarbans in the regions of West Bengal. The largest trees found in this natural vegetation are known as Sundari.
  • Garal, Kasur, and Hogla and other significant trees may be found in the tidal forests. These trees and all of these forests are very significant to the forestry industry as these woods provide fuel and lumber.
  • The beauty of the coastal areas of India is enhanced by the presence of coconut trees and Palm trees.
  • These mangrove forests are home to various animals like the Royal Bengal Tiger, Turtles, and a variety of Snakes and crocodiles.

Factors Affecting Natural Vegetation

There are several factors that affect the natural vegetation in India, such as the type of soil, climate, precipitation, etc. A brief description of each of these factors is given below.

  • Relief: The nature of the landscape determines the type of vegetation i.e. if the land is level and fertile, then it is utilised for farming purposes. And if uneven, then grasslands and woodlands develop over it.
  • Soil: It is very much true that soil texture governs the type of natural vegetation and hence the biodiversity on that land. For example, sandy soil is suitable for thorny vegetation, while moist and marshy soil is well suited for mangroves and likewise vegetation.
  • Climate: Climatic factors such as temperature and humidity contribute immensely to determining the character and extent of vegetation. The area with high temperature and humidity supports evergreen forests and with low temperature and humidity falls under dry climatic conditions wherein plants and vegetation adapt to save water and survive by adapting to thorny and reduced leaves.
  • Sunlight: The effect of sunlight is very prominently seen in the high-altitude zone. The trees grow faster in summer because of the longer photoperiod.
  • Precipitation: In the heavy rainfall zone, dense vegetation is seen, whereas in the rain shed, scanty vegetation is found.

Conservation of Natural Vegetation and Wildlife

We should make efforts for the conservation of natural vegetation and wildlife because these provide us with resources for sustainable living. The other reasons for conserving wildlife and natural vegetation are listed below:

  • A variety of medical plants, such as Arjun, Neem, Babool, etc, are found in forests.
  • We get oxygen and precipitation from natural vegetation.
  • Forests help nature prevent soil erosion.
  • It provides a natural habitat to animals and also safeguards the lives of endangered animals.
  • Provide raw materials to various industries, which further make finished goods for our use.
  • Natural vegetation and wildlife maintain an ecological balance necessary for survival.

Considering these reasons, there are several initiatives taken by the government to protect natural vegetation in India.

  • There are 535 wildlife sanctuaries, 104 national parks, and various zoos and gardens to protect wildlife and natural vegetation of India.
  • Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was introduced by the government.
  • Natural resources are being protected by the central government and UNESCO initiatives.
  • Various programs and projects, such as project lion, project elephant, project vulture, etc, are introduced by the government from time to time to protect wildlife.

Natural Vegetation of India UPSC

Natural vegetation of India UPSC topic is part of Indian geography. Along with being the most interesting topic to learn, it is an important one because an IAS aspirant appearing for UPSC exam is supposed to have proper detailed knowledge about the climatic regions, natural vegetation and wildlife in the country.

Another perspective that makes this topic important for learning purposes for the IAS exam is that the topic of the natural vegetation of India is both static and dynamic in nature. Hence it can be asked as a geographic question as well as a current affairs if it has been in the news recently.

To learn more about this topic and the types of vegetation in India, the aspirants can refer to the NCERT books along with other UPSC Geography books for preparation.

Natural Vegetation UPSC Questions

The Natural vegetation of India is a very important topic in Indian Geography. Many questions are asked in the UPSC Exam from the Geography section. Following are the natural vegetation of India UPSC sample questions for the preparation of types of questions being asked in the exam.

Q1. If a tropical rainforest is removed, it does not regenerate quickly as compared to the tropical deciduous forest. This is because [Prelims 2011]

  1. The soil of the rainforest is deficient in nutrients.
  2. Propagules of the trees in a rainforest have poor viability.
  3. The rainforest species are slow growing.
  4. Exotic species invade the infertile soil of rainforest.

Answer – Option A.

Q2. Which of the following are the features of tropical evergreen forests?

  1. Annual precipitation of more than 200 cm
  2. Untimely growth of trees to flowering
  3. Zero stratification

Choose the correct options from the codes given below-

  1. Only 1
  2. 1 and 2
  3. 2 and 3
  4. All of the above

Answer – Option B

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