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| Last Updated:: 30/12/2020

Fragile Ecosystems of India


INTRODUCTION: Fragile ecosystems are important ecosystems, with unique features and resources. Fragile ecosystems include deserts, semi–arid lands, mountains, wetlands, small islands and certain coastal areas. Most of these ecosystems are regional in scope, as they transcend national boundaries.

Desert: The Thar Desert or the Great Indian Desert is a large, arid region in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent, is the world's 17th largest desert, and the world's 9th largest subtropical desert. About 85% of the Thar Desert is in India, and the remaining part in Pakistan. In India, it covers about 320,000 km2, of which 60% is in Rajasthan and extends into the states of Gujarat, Punjab, and Haryana.

Wetlands: India, with its varying topography and climatic regimes, supports diverse and unique wetland habitats. The available estimates about the areal extent of wetlands in India vary widely from a lowest of 1% to a highest of 5% of geographical area, but do support nearly fifth of the known biodiversity. These wetlands are distributed in different geographical regions ranging from Himalayas to Deccan plateau.

Mountains: The major mountain ranges in India are the Himalayas and the Western Ghats.The Himalayas are the highest mountainous range in theworld that traverses an arc of about 2500 km between the Indus and theBrahmaputra rivers with an average width ranging from 100 to 400 km. TheHimalayas pass through eight countries, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China,Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. In India, this mountain ecosystem isspread over 11 states, viz. Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal,Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland,Tripura and West Bengal. These two mountainous ranges are recognised as two hottest biodiversity hotspots of the world, exhibit high level of endemism.

Islands: There are a total of 1,208 islands, including uninhabited ones in India. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory is a tropical archipelago of 572 islands in the Bay of Bengal, situated between 6°45'–13°41' N and 92°12'–93°57' E, and covering a total geographical area of 8,249 km2 with a coastline of 1,962 km. These islands have unique flora and fauna, and exhibits high level of endemism.

Coastal areas: India has a coastline of 7516.6 km, nine states and two union territories of the country have coastal areas. These coastal areas have 97 major estuaries, 34 major lagoons, 31 mangrove areas and 5 coral reef areas, and these various habitats support unique flora and fauna.

Databases on various fragile ecosystems of India.  

1. Cold Deserts of India   ----   List of Plants in Cold Deserts of Western Himalaya

2.  Mangroves of India