What is Natural vegetation? Natural Vegetation refers to plants that grow and develop by themselves without human help .
Why do we have to learn about Natural vegetation? The study of natural vegetation is important to geographers for two reasons. Vegetation is an integral part of the physical environment Humans depend on vegetation for food, fuel, shelter, medicine etc.
Natural vegetation occurs Is Natural Vegetation part of something? Animals eat the plants The blood helps the grass & plants to grow Natural Vegetation is part of the ecosystem, which is a living, biological community where the plants, animals and humans interact with one another and with their physical environment. For example: the grasses provide food for the animals, which are hunted by the humans living there. Humans hunt down the animals Animals eat the meat The blood and unwanted meat is left behind
Can Natural vegetation be classified into other forms of vegetation? Natural Vegetation can be classified into: Forest vegetation Grass land vegetation Desert vegetation
Forest vegetation… Forest vegetation is mainly made up of one species of trees.
Grass-land Vegetation… Grass-land vegetation is chiefly made up of grasses, scattered trees and small woody plants (shrubs)
Desert vegetation… Desert vegetation consists mainly of thorny shrubs and other drought-resistant plants such as the cactus.
These three main types of natural vegetation can be further classified into different sub-types. The existence and global distribution of the different types of natural vegetation are influenced mainly by climatic conditions particularly precipitation and temperatures
Does temperature effect Natural Vegetation? Natural vegetation tends to be most diverse and abundant in areas near the equator where the average annual rainfall and temperature are high. Between the tropic of cancer (latitude 23.5N) and the tropic of Capricorn (latitude23.5S), the dominant type of natural vegetation is the evergreen tropical rainforests and mangroves that spread along the equator. As one approaches latitudes 10 north & 10 south of the equator, the tropical monsoon forests become more widespread. Travelling from the equator towards the poles, one will encounter changes in the types of natural vegetation. As temperatures drop and precipitation decreases and becomes more variable, one dominant type of forest found in the cool temperature areas is the evergreen temperature coniferous forests
Difference in plant species… There is great variety of plant species in tropical rainforests. One hectare of land in a tropical rain forest may contain as many as 400 species of trees. The trees in tropical rainforests are largely broadleaved evergreens. Many of the trees are hardwoods. Lianas and epiphytes (air plants) such as Bird’s nest Fern are also common in tropical rainforests.
Where are they found? Mangrove forests can be found along tropical and subtropical coastal areas. They are usually found along low-lying, sheltered coasts with muddy and waterlogged land.
Difference in plant species… The dominant plants in this type of forests are generally those species that have special breathing roots that would enable them to take in oxygen under waterlogged conditions. These trees also have prop roots to anchor them firmly in the soft, muddy ground.
Mangrove trees have broad leaves, which also have drip tips to enable rainwater to flow off quickly and easily. Some trees have leaves that contain special salt glands to prevent the building up of excess salt.
Mangrove trees have prop roots & some have aerial roots.
Some mangrove trees have tube-like fruit that start to germinate while they are still on the trees. When the fruit ripen, they fall into the mud & start to grow.
Structure … Unlike tropical rainforest, mangrove rainforests are classified into 3 parts horizontally.
Difference in plant species… Due to dry season, tropical monsoon forests have fewer of plants compared to those in tropical rain forests. The plants are also spaced farther apart from each other. Most of the trees in tropical monsoon forest are hardwoods. Teakand rosewood are two well known tropical hardwoods.
Very sparse undergrowth with exception of few shrubs.
Trees are usually uniform in height
Trees grow close together in competition for sunlight.
Importance 0f Forests… Forests are intimately linked to the physical, economic and spiritual well-being of people. They provided the basic essential environment & resources for some ancient civilizations to develop & flourish. They are also the sources of our spiritual & artistic inspirations & the storehouses of natural beauty & riches.
Green Lungs of the earth… Trees produce it’s own food through photosynthesis. Caron dioxide is absorbed in the process & oxygen is produced.
Habitats All forests provide three essential life-giving elements:
Forests are natural home for many plants & animals. Forests have long been the source of food for humans since their early days as hunters and gathers. Forests are important for humans as they provide with suitable land to carry out traditional shifting cultivation.
Raw Materials There are two types of timber: Hardwood Softwood.
Hardwood Examples of hardwood are: Mahogany rosewood Teak
Softwood Examples of softwood are: Pine Hemlock Fir Redwood Spruce cedar
Recreational Areas Forests are popular for out door activities such as camping, fishing, sight-seeing and hiking.
Water Catchment Basins Forests are important water catchment basins. The quantity as well as the quality of water in the rivers & lakes depend on size. Forests are also important for controlling flooding in the lowlands.