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Conservation of Forests and Wildlife- Biology Guide for Class 8

Conservation of Forests and Wildlife- Class 8 Science Guide

Information about Conservation of Forests and Wildlife

Title

Conservation of Forests and Wildlife

Class

Class 8

Subject

Class 8 Biology

Topics Covered

  • Conservation of Forests and Wildlife
  • Biosphere Reserve
  • National Parks
  • Wildlife Sanctuaries
  • Flora and Fauna
  • Red Data Book
  • Endemic Species


Conservation of Forests and Wildlife 

  • The protection, preservation, management, or restoration of wildlife and of natural resources, (such as forests, soil and water) is known as conservation.
  • The variety of life on earth is commonly referred to as biodiversity.
  • Biodiversity plays an important role in the functioning of food chains and food webs. In fact, it helps to maintain the ecological balance of ecosystems. 
  • At present, many human activities are causing a large scale extinction of many species of plants and animals. This is affecting the functioning of several ecosystems.
  • The preservation of species and their habitats is important for ecosystems to function. Yet, the pressures to destroy habitats, for timber, illegal hunting and other such challenges, are making 'conservation' a big struggle. 

Conserving biodiversity is very important as each group of organisms has its own important role to play in an ecosystem.
For example, if the deer in a forest are killed, the population of lions will also decrease as they will not get sufficient food. 

The population of scavengers (that feed on the remains of the animals killed by lions and other carnivores) will also be affected.
It is to prevent such situations that the Government of India is setting-up biosphere reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in different parts of the country. 

Biosphere Reserve

A biosphere reserve is an international conservation designation given by the UNESCO under its programme on 'Man and the Biosphere (MAB)'. 
The World Network of biosphere reserves, is a collection of all 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries. 
Biosphere reserves are created to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between man and the biosphere. 
The Indian Government has established 18 Biosphere Reserves in India.
  • Ten of these eighteen (Indian) biosphere reserves are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; based on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list.
  • Some of these are:
    (i) Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
    (ii) Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve
    (iii) Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve
    (iv) Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve. 

National Parks

A national park is a reserve of land, usually declared and owned by a national government; it is protected from most human development works and pollution. National parks, being protected areas, help in conservation of endangered species of animals as well as plants. They are, therefore, very useful. 

Jim Corbett National Park

The Jim Corbett National Park was the first National Park in India; it was established in 1935.

Kaziranga National Park

The Kaziranga National Park has two-thirds of the world's great one-horned rhinoceros population. Among the protected areas in the world, Kaziranga boasts of the highest density of tigers and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The park is also home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffaloes and swamp deer.

Bandipur National Park

Bandipur National Park (BNP) is one of the India's best known protected areas, and is an important reserve for the 'Project Tiger'. It is located in Karnataka in South India.

Wildlife Sanctuaries

A wildlife sanctuary, also called a wildlife refuge, is a generally an officially designated territory, 'marked' by the government; it provides protection and suitable living conditions for wild animals. Hunting, killing or capturing of animals is strictly prohibited in such areas. There are about 543 wildlife sanctuaries in India; these aim to protect the habitat of wild animals so that they can live safely, without any harmful human intervention

Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary

  • Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary is situated in the Aurangabad and Ahmadnagar districts in Marathawara region of Maharashtra. 
  • The presence of Nathsagar Lake in the sanctuary makes the surrounding areas rich in aquatic flora and fauna. It attracts many species of resident and migratory birds. 
  • There are nearly 200 species of birds in this area, including more than 70 species of migratory birds; out of these, 45 major species belong to birds of international migration.
  • Notable amongst these migratory birds are: cranes, flamingos, brahmany duck, pochards teals, pintails, pigeon, shovellar, god wit, shauces, glossy ibis, etc. 
  • This sanctuary is also a habitat for resting of local resident birds.

Gahirmatha Turtle Sanctuary

Gahirmatha Turtle Sanctuary in Odisha is the breeding ground for the giant olive ridley turtles.
They travel all the way from the Pacific Ocean, to mate and lay their eggs here.

Flora and Fauna

Flora refers to all plant life occuring in an area, or over a time; it refers especially to the naturally occurring (or indigenous) plant life. Fauna is all of the animal life of any particular region, or over a time.
The term 'Fauna' refers to a typical collection of animals, found in a specific place, or at a specific time. India has over 2,000 species of birds, over 500 species of reptiles and amphibians, and around 30,000 species of insects, including the colourful butterflies.

Red Data Book

The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) maintains an international list of animals and plants whose continued existence is getting threatened. This list is published in the form of Red Data Books
Species are classified into different categories on the basis of the perceived risk to their existence. Each Red Data Book usually deals with a specific group of animals or plants (e.g. reptiles, insects, mosses). These books are now being published in different countries and provide useful information on the 'threat status' of different species. 
  • When no member of a species exists, or is presumed, beyond reasonable doubt, to have disappeared, such a species is said to be extinct. The dodo, passenger pigeon and Caribbean monk seal are some species that have become extinct. 
  • When a species faces a very high risk of extinction in the near future, it is termed as an endangered species. For example, blue whale, giant panda, snow leopard, African wild dog and tiger are some of the endangered species. 
  • The vulnerable species are those that face a high risk of extinction in the medium-term. The cheetah, gaur lion and sloth bear are some of the vulnerable species.

Endemic Species

Endemic species are unique to a particular geographic location; such as a specified island, some habitat type, a nation or some other well defined zone. To be endemic to a place, or area, means: 'found only in that part of the world and no where else'.

For example, the orange-breasted sunbird is endemic to Fynbos; this implies that it is exclusively found only in the Fynbos vegetation type of south-western South Africa. Lion-tailed macaque is endemic to the Western ghats of south-west India.
The extinction of endemic species has many causes; these include pollution and natural disasters.
However, it is human action that is responsible for the four main causes of their current rate of extinction:
1. Loss of habitat: It occurs when an environment is altered so much that certain organisms can no longer survive there. Habitat loss may occur due to pollution and/or destruction of a habitat. 
2. Overexploitation: Overexploitation occurs when living organisms are hunted to such an extent that their population is not able to maintain itself, even if it was initially abundant. For example, passenger pigeons, once, numerous across North America, were hunted for food and are now extinct. 
3. Introduced species: Colonisation, i.e. introduction of new species, can have a significant impact on endemic species. This is because the new species may prey on, or compete for resources, with the existing species.
4. Ecosystem disruption: The living organisms in an ecosystem are often linked together. This link might be a food chain, the pollination of plants by insects, bats and birds, or the shelter that plants provide for certain animals. Because of these links, the reduction in the population of one species can affect the populations of other species. The projects and programmes, concerning nature and started by the Indian Government, include Project Tiger, Nature Camps and Jungle Lodges. These have been organised to promote wildlife awareness among people. These projects not only help in preserving our natural heritage but also encourage eco-tourism.

Important Points

  • Dodo was a bird that was endemic to the island of Mauritius. The extinction of dodo also had an impact on trees on the Mauritius Island. Scientists have found out that there is a species of a tree in Mauritius whose seeds had stopped germinating 300 years ago.

    In fact, dodo ate the fruit of this tree, and it was only by passing through the Dodo's digestive system that the seeds became active and could grow. Luckily, some people discovered that domestic turkey could also do the same sufficiently. They have used turkeys to begin a new generation of that tree; it is now called the 'dodo tree'.
  • Ecosystem: An ecosystem is a natural unit; it consists of all plants, animals and microorganisms (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all of the physical (abiotic) factors of the environment.
    For example, a forest is a natural ecosystem, while an aquarium, or a field, is an artificial ecosystem.
  • Species: A group of organisms that can interbreed freely under natural conditions, to produce fertile offsprings, is said to belong to the same species.
  • A Biodiversity Hotspot is a biogeographic region which exhibits a high degree of species richness, endemism and is threatened with destruction. They occupy only 2.3% of the Earth's land surface, but are home to more than 50% of the plants and more than 40% of the mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibian species of the world. 
  • Currently, 36 such regions have been recognised all over the world; three of these are present in India. These three regions in, and around, India are:
    1. The Eastern Himalayas
    2. Indo-Burma Region
    3. The Western Ghats and Sri Lanka
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