Biosphere reserves fauna and flora are the resources that fall under this category. India is rich nation from the viewpoint of biodiversity. The total number of types of living organisms found in this country is 75,000. Further, 45,000 types of plants and trees are found in this vast country. According to the Zoological Survey of India, there are 89, 451 species of fauna in our country. In India there are
- a)- 2,577 protista;
- b)- 5070 mollusca;
- c)- 68389 anthropoda;
- d)- 209 amphibia;
- e)- 390 mammalia;
- f)- 456 reptillia;
- g)- 119 protochordata;
- h)- 2546 pisces;
- i)- 1232 aves; and
- j)- 8329 other invertebrates.
Further, there are 850 types of bacteria, 23000 types of fungi, 1600 types of lichens, 2664 types of bryophytes, 1022 types of teredophytes, 64 types of gemenosperms and 1500 types of angiosperms in India. Flora- In terms of plant diversity, India is at the tenth position in the world and at the fourth position in Asia.
The Botanical Survey of India has surveyed 70per cent of the land area of the country and identified 47000 species of plants. The vascular flora, which form the conspicuous vegetation cover, comprise 15000 species of flora. Out of these, more than 35 per cent are endemic and not reported to exist anywhere in the world. The forest cover of India is nearby 63.73 million hectares (19.39 per cent of the nation’s land area). It should be 33 per cent, if land area of the country is the prime consideration. More than 800 ethno-botanical plants have collected and identified by different centers of the Botanical Survey of India. Nearby 1336 plant species of plants are deemed endangered. Nearly 20 species of higher plants have been declared as possibly extinct; these have not been found in India during the last 6-10 decades. Less forest cover and dwindling number of fauna species are posing serious environmental challenges to India.
Landslides, floods, deforestation and advances of the Thar Desert of Rajasthan are some of the consequences of the receding forest cover. Excessive population levels have led to almost nude hillocks, hills and plains. If these trends were not checked, India could face an ecological disaster of a serious nature by the end of the current decade.
Trees and plants found in India can be divided into the 9 categories, as
1)- Western Himalayan Zone- here, Chir, Pine, Conifer, broad leaf temperate trees (from Kashmir to Kumaon) etc are found in abundance. In higher zones, forests of deodar, blue pine, spruce and silver fir are found in abundance. The height limit for this zone is 4750 m above the MSL.
2)- Eastern Himalayan Zone- laurel, maple, rhododendron, alder and birch ( In Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kurseong and nearby tract) are found in this area. Many conifers, junipers and dwarf willows are also found here.
3)- Alpine Zone- It starts from 4750 m above MSL. Trees of silver fir, silver birch and jumper are found in this region.
4)- Assam Region- Evergreen forests,bamboos, tall grasses ( In Brahmaputra and Surma valleys) are common.
5)- Indus Plane Region- Natural vegetation, kelkar, babool, mango, eucalyptus etc are found in Punjab, western Rajasthan and northern Gujarat.
6)- The Ganges Plane- Only a small area is under forests.
7)- Deccan Region- Various types of deciduous forests are found in this region.
8)- Malabar Region- Coconut, betel nut, pepper, coffee, tea, rubber, cashew nut etc are found in this region.
9)- Andaman Region- Mangrove, beach, diluvial and evergreen forests abound in this region.
It has been identified 13 biosphere reserves in India. Such as Nilgiris (TN,Karnataka and Kerala), Nanda Devi ( Uttaranchal), Nukrek (Meghalaya), Great Nicobar ( Andaman & Nicobar Islands), Gulf of Mannar ( TN), Manas (Assam), Sunderbans (West Bengal), Similipal (Orissa), Dibru Dhaikowa, Dehong Deband, Panchamarhi (MP), Kanchan Junga ( Uttaranchal), Agasthyamalai. Out of these, 3 biosphere reserves have been recognised on the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by the UNESCO. These are- Nilgiris, Sunderbans and Gulf of Mannar.