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Biodiversity is the term given to the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms. The biodiversity we see today is the fruit of billions of years of evolution, shaped by natural processes and, increasingly, by the influence of humans. It forms the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we so fully depend. Biological resources are the pillars upon which we build civilizations. Nature's products support such diverse industries as agriculture, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, horticulture, construction and waste treatment. The loss of biodiversity threatens our food supplies, opportunities for recreation and tourism, and sources of wood, medicines and energy. It also interferes with essential ecological functions. While the loss of individual species catches our attention, it is the fragmentation, degradation, and outright loss of forests, wetlands, coral reefs, and other ecosystems that poses the gravest threat to biological diversity. While loss of species has always occurred as a natural phenomenon, the pace of extinction has accelerated dramatically as a result of human activity. Ecosystems are being fragmented or eliminated, and innumerable species are in decline or already extinct.
In this context this study has tried to bring out an assessment of the biodiversity in the Ratapani Forests block of Dungarpur range. Pure stand of Tectona Grandis can be seen in Dungarpur district where it dominates the vegetation but in varied degree of degradation due to biotic influence. Associated trees seen in the area are Diospyros melanoxylon, Aegle marmelos, Anogeissus latifolia(which is the most common), Bauhinia racemosa, Soymida febrifuga, Mitragyna parvifolia and Terminalia tomentosa. Undergrowth plant varieties cover Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, Carissa opaca etc.
The present study found that the increasing pressure of both human and livestock population is taking a heavy toll on the biodiversity of the area particularly in terms of rapid falling of trees and excessive grazing of livestock. On the flat plateau and ridges of the hills most of the fertile soil has been washed away due to serious erosion and these areas are not capable for good teak growth. It is therefore suggested that as the soil of hilly and plateau tracks is fragile and has a thin horizon so these areas must be monitored very closely so that the soil erosion due to removal of vegetation cover can be checked by planting of new saplings which can bind the soil in short term and then these areas too can be made viable to support the teak vegetation as they were supporting prior to the deterioration conditions were set in. The study also suggests various ways and means to arrest the degradation of biodiversity in the area and to regenerate the forest cover on the patches which are rendered barren due to manmade practices.
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