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  • Date Submitted: 05/25/2011 05:02 AM
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Journal of Tropical Forest Science 13(4): 601–620 (2001) 601
FORMATION AND RECOVERY OF SECONDARY FORESTS
IN INDIA: A PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO WESTERN
GHATS IN SOUTH INDIA
D. M. Bhat, K. S. Murali & N. H. Ravindranath
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India
BHAT, D. M., MURALI, K. S. & RAVINDRANATH, N. H. 2001. Formation and
recovery of secondary forests in India: a particular reference to Western Ghats in south
India. This paper analyses the underlying causes of secondary forest formation and
recovery in India, particularly the Western Ghats region of south India, from precolonial
times to the present. In the pre-colonial period, hunter-gatherers, shifting
cultivators and settled cultivators were the dominant users of forest land, with some
limited timber felling by local chieftains and kings. There was limited secondary forest
formation following extractive activities by the communities and the State. The State
takeover of forests for commercial timber exploitation during the colonial period, the
resulting alienation of local community rights, and the over-exploitation of forest
products from limited areas accessible to the community were key factors in the largescale
formation of secondary forests. In the post-independence period, the diversion
of forestland for other purposes and industrial pressures led to deforestation and forest
degradation. Currently, forest cover is relatively low and primary forests exist only in
hilly tracts. However, forest cover has stabilised in spite of increasing population
density. With the passing of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, which banned forest
clearing, forest conversion pressures were reduced. During the last decade, the
rehabilitation of degraded secondary forests and the regeneration of secondary forest
on degraded land by communities have contributed to the stabilisation of forest cover.
The paper hypothesises that joint management of forests by...

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