When our ancestors were still alive, they lived in the woods. It fulfilled all the needs they needed to have in order to conduct a regular life at the time. Since most of us reside in cities and towns that are located a significant distance from any nearby woods, we do not really understand the significance of forests in our everyday lives. It is a natural resource that can be renewed, and it provides a habitat (a place to live) for a wide variety of animals, including bears, bison, jackals, deer, porcupines, elephants, and so on.
The woods are home to a wide variety of trees, including sal, teak, neem, semal, Sheesham, Palash, bamboo, fig, khair, amla, and kachnar, amongst a great number of others. In addition, there are insects, butterflies, honeybees, and birds living in the forest, all of which contribute to the process of pollination that takes place in the blooming plants of the forest.
What is the structural composition of a forest?
The strata of the forest that are described below are created by the many types of plants, such as trees, shrubs, and herbs.
The term canopy refers to the highest branches and leaves of tall trees that collectively operate as a covering well over a forest ground. It is the layer of vegetation that is located at the very top of the forest. The portion of a tree's branches that extends beyond the main stem and is referred to as the crown.
The term understorey refers to the several horizontal strata that are created in a forest as a result of the different kinds of crowns. The following is a description of the components that make up the understory:
(i) Top layer: The giant and towering trees make up the majority of it, accompanied by shrubs and grasses.
(ii) Shrub layer: From the ground up, there are several plants and bushes that are certain meters in height. When there is sufficient sunlight in some areas of the forest, it forms a thick layer there.
(iii) Herb layer: The herb layer of plants is found just underneath the shrub layer of plants. It is the layer of vegetation in the forest that is the lowest (having leafy plants). The majority of the plants that make up the herb layer have a relatively limited lifetime.
(iv) Forest floor: Mosses, liverworts, and lichens are just examples of the tiny plants that may be found in this area. It is home to a wide variety of insects, worms, toadstools, and other such things. The majority of the surface area of the forest floor is covered with decomposing plant detritus and animal droppings.
Different essential components that make up a forest ecosystem
Plants, animals, and creatures that break down dead matter and feed on it are the types of living things that may be found in the forest. The nutrients, water, and carbon dioxide that are necessary for the development of the plants are provided by the non-living environment of the forest.
Because they generate their own sustenance via the process of photosynthesis, living plants are classified as autotrophs. This is achieved by taking up nutrients water from soil, carbon dioxide from the air, and using sunlight as the energy source. They are a source of nutrition for every living thing that makes its home in the forest and hence, they are referred to as producers (of the base food chain).
Numerous creatures live in forests, and people refer to them as consumers (of food). Herbivores are creatures that consume only plants or portions of plants, whereas carnivores are animals that consume only animal meat. Herbivores are also known as plant eaters. Because they get their nutrition from other creatures, animals are collectively referred to as heterotrophs.
3. Composting organisms
Microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungus, make up the vast majority of these organisms. They are known as saprotrophs because they get their nutrition from dead plants and animals. These organisms are also known as decomposers due to the fact that they are responsible for breaking down dead plant components and animal corpses into more basic chemicals. They play a very significant part in maintaining the health of the forest ecosystems.
Species such as vultures, crows, jackals, hyenas, and some insects (including ants, beetles, termites, woodlice, maggots, millipedes, and earthworms) are examples of scavengers. Other examples include birds such as vultures and crows. The scavengers of our environment are the ones responsible for keeping it clean. However, they are not decomposers since they do not simplify the more complicated dead organic matter into more simple components.
The significance of forest ecosystems
The trees and plants that live in the woods supply us with a wide range of foods. In addition to this, they improve the quality of the air and water, as well as the climate and the moisture in the soil. Therefore, they are referred to as lifelines.
1. Forests are a rich source of a variety of useful products
The many different types of foods that may be gathered from forests are together referred to as "forest products." There are a great many beneficial goods that come from our forests. Wood, honey, gum, sealing wax (or lac), fruits, catechu (kattha), natural rubber, colors, oils, spices, medicinal plants, cork, and fodder for cattle are some of the essential items that we get from a forest.
Wood is certainly one of the most valuable products, obtained by cutting down a forest’s trees. The variety of ways in which we put the wood that we harvest from forests to use in our day-to-day activities is impressive.
2. Forests help to maintain a healthy balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
During the process of photosynthesis, the plants in the forest emit oxygen. This ensures that all organisms, including humans, have access to oxygen to breathe, and it also contributes to the atmosphere's ability to maintain the appropriate balance of oxygen to carbon dioxide. For this reason, woods are sometimes referred to as "green lungs."
There is a correlation between an increase in the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a rise in the average temperature of the world. During the process of photosynthesis, the plants in the forest take in carbon dioxide from the surrounding air. As a result, they contribute to the preservation of a healthy balance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
3. Forests help to keep the water cycle going
Through their root systems, the trees in the forest draw water from the surrounding soil, and through the process of transpiration, they expel water vapor into the surrounding atmosphere. This water vapor contributes to the creation of clouds, which ultimately results in rain falling to the ground.
As a result, forests are responsible for an adequate amount of rainfall on earth. In point of fact, almost half of the rainfall that occurs in regions that are dominated by forests originates from the transpiration (rain) of the trees that make up such forests.
In this manner, trees contribute to the upkeep of a flawless water cycle in the natural world and help satisfy human demand for freshwater.
4. The presence of forests reduces the likelihood of flooding
Rainfall is naturally absorbed by the forest, and the ground there provides a porous medium for the water to soak through. Throughout the year, it plays a role in helping to keep the water table stable. Forests not only aid in preventing floods, but they also assist in regulating the flow of water in streams, which ensures that we have a consistent supply of this essential resource.
On the other side, in a location where there are no trees, rainwater may directly contact the ground, which might lead to flooding in the surrounding region. Heavy rain has the potential to also erode the soil. When there are no tree roots in an area, the soil is more likely to be washed away or eroded than when there are tree roots present.
In a forest, several different types of plants coexist and develop together, creating a stratified environment that serves as a home for a variety of wild creatures. If there are no plants or trees on the land, the soil will not be able to retain water, which will lead to flooding and erosion.
To learn more about the different structures of the forest in detail, you can check out our videos, which cover these topics comprehensively. We also create videos for different grades or customize videos based on the need of the clients.