Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

First family tree for tropical forests

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Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Tropical forests, plate tectonics

Mains level: Types of forests and their extent in India


Tropical forests in different continents are related

  1. Tropical forests in different continents across the world are related and share a common ancestry
  2. This was discovered by a team of more than 100 researchers, including several Indian scientists

A new plant classification system necessary

  1. The discovery necessitates a new classification system for plant communities
  2. It could help researchers predict the resilience or susceptibility of different forests to global environmental changes more accurately

About the study

  1. To classify tropical forests based on their genetic relationships, scientists contributed almost one million tree samples of 15,000 species from tree plots across 400 locations in the world
  2. Incorporating genetic information of these species, built a family tree to see how these trees are related to each other through millions of years of evolution
  3. With this, they identified five major forest regions in the tropics: the Indo-Pacific, Subtropical, African, American and Dry forests

Findings

  1. According to their results, tropical forests in Africa and South America are closely related, with most of the differences between them occurring within the last 100 million years
  2. This likely reflects patterns of plate tectonics, as South America and Africa broke apart resulting in the formation of the Atlantic Ocean that started approximately 140 million years ago
  3. Dry forests found in India, America, Africa and Madagascar are also closely related to each other

Back2Basics

Tropical forests

  1. Tropical forests are forested landscapes in Tropical regions: i.e. land areas approximately bounded by the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn but possibly affected by other factors such as prevailing winds
  2. Tropical Forests are extensive, making up just under half the world’s forests
  3. While forests in temperate areas are readily categorised on the basis of tree canopy density, such schemes do not work well in tropical forests
  4. There is no single scheme that defines what a forest is, in tropical regions or elsewhere
  5. The Global 200 scheme, promoted by the World Wildlife Fund, classifies three main tropical forest habitat types (biomes), grouping together tropical and sub-tropical areas:
  • Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests,
  • Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests,
  • Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests
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