Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Preserving Rajasthan’s Semal Trees 


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Semal Trees and its habitat

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

Despite its ecological importance, rampant harvesting of Semal Trees for bonfires poses a grave threat to their existence, undermining biodiversity and cultural heritage alike.

About Semal/ Silk Cotton Trees

  • The Semal tree, scientifically known as Bombax ceiba, is a deciduous tropical tree.
  • It is native to India, South-East Asia, and Northern Australia.
  • It can grow up to 60 meters tall. It has a distinctive straight trunk, often with spiky thorns, and a wide, spreading canopy.
  • It produces vivid red flowers that are large and attractive, making it quite conspicuous when in bloom.
  • The fruit of the Semal tree is a capsule that contains several seeds surrounded by a fibrous, cotton-like substance which is wind-dispersed.

Commercial Uses

  • The fibers extracted from the fruit, known as kapok, are used for stuffing pillows, mattresses, and life jackets due to their buoyancy and insulating properties.
  • The wood is soft and is often used for making paper, while in rural areas, it is used as fuelwood and for making cheap furniture.

Ecological Significance

  • Members of tribal communities consume the tree’s reddish root for food during the monsoons.
  • Larvae of the moth Bucculatrix crateracma feed on its leaves.
  • The golden-crowned sparrow weaves the lining of its nests with white cotton from its seeds.

Felling of a Semal Tree: Which laws are violated?

  1. Rajasthan Forest Act 1953: This act prohibits various activities in reserved forests without prior permission. Specifically, it bars any unauthorized person from felling, uprooting, damaging, or otherwise harming trees. Violating these prohibitions can lead to penalties including imprisonment, fines, or both, depending on the severity of the offence. Semal tree is not recorded in the state’s list of ‘rare, threatened, and endangered’ species. (Trees on this list enjoy priority conservation efforts.) (Indian Kanoon)​
  2. Forest (Conservation) Act 1980: This act is more comprehensive at the national level and was enacted to provide for the conservation of forests and to regulate deforestation. It requires that any non-forest use of forest land must have prior approval from the Central Government. This includes clearances for felling trees, which are only granted under specific conditions that ensure the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources.​ (UNEPLawEnvAssistantPlat)​


[2015] In India, in which one of the following types of forests is teak a dominant tree species?

(a) Tropical moist deciduous forest

(b) Tropical rainforest

(c) Tropical thorn scrub forest

(d) Temperate forest with grasslands

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