Natural Vegetation | Definition | Explanation

natural vegetation
Written by Waseem Raza

Natural Vegetation

Natural vegetation comprises forests, shrubs and grasses, and it is determined by the climatic conditions and soil types of a country. From all these forests are the most important to humans because these provide timber and firewood to the people. Many geographers emphasize on the importance of trees. For a balanced 73 economy 20-25 percent of the land should be under forest. The climate of Pakistan is too dry for forests. In Pakistan, only about 5 percent of the total area is forested. Slightly over two-thirds of the forest land is under public ownership, the remainder being privately owned.

The natural vegetation of a country is depends upon its temperature, type of soil and amount of rainfall. Areas where there is low rainfall have poor natural vegetation. So the temperature and rainfall in different regions of a country is different and therefore natural vegetation of these regions include into forests and grass lands are also different.


The total area of forests in Pakistan is 4.224 million Rectors which is 4.8% of the total land area. The forest covered area has been considerably reduced. Punjab cover 17%, Sindh 18%, Baluchistan 8% and KPK covers highest share of forests i.e. 32%. Between 1981 and 1990, forest area of the Tropical Asia and Oceania, which Pakistan is a part of, had been decrease up to 4.3%.

During the same period, a 0.6% deforestation had been occurring each year. In Pakistan, subtropical, temperate, Riverain and mangrove forests are being lost because of unfavorable use of land and the ever-increasing demand for timber and firewood. Total Forest Area under the control of the Forest Departments (including Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas) is 4.26 million hectares. The forestry sector of Pakistan is a main source of lumber, paper, fuel wood, medicine as well as human and animal food. The following forest types are found in Pakistan.

Littoral and Swamp forests:

These are forests of low heights which occur in the Arabian Sea around the coast of Karachi and Pasni in Baluchistan. It covers at least 14 million hectors and 257500 hectors. These forests are found in Pakistan and the 7th largest littoral and swamp forests in the world. These forests are evergreen and it is not important from the point of view of timber production. They are natural habitat to a large number of insects, microorganisms, birds, different mammals as well as snakes. These are also known as mangroes.

Tropical dry deciduous forests

These are low or moderate height forests that consist of entirely deciduous species. This type does not occur extensively in Pakistan but there are limited areas in the Rawalpindi foothills carrying this type of vegetation. The spring is hot and dry but there is much rain in late summer up to 37 inches during the year.

Tropical thorn forests

This type of forests is naturally growing over the whole of Indus plain except for the driest areas. In upper Indus plains these forests are known as Rakh forest while in lower Indus plains known as desert forests. They are most widespread in the Punjab plains, but these forests also occupy small areas in southern Sindh and western Baluchistan. Its annual temperature varies from 75 F to 80 F. Annual rainfalls in these areas is 30 inch to 5 inch which changes from year to year. The districts of Sialkot, Gujrat and Jhelum consist of this type of tropical thorn forests

Sub-tropical broad-leaved evergreen forests

These evergreen forests consist of branchy trees. These forests are small-leafed evergreen species. These trees and shrubs are mostly thorny and evergreen, but some other trees like olive and pomegranate are not thorny. This type occurs on the foothills and lower slopes of the Himalayas, the salt Range and the Sulaiman Range. These forests are found in Gujrat, Margallah hills, Attock and Malakand.

Sub-tropical pine forests

Sub-tropical pine forests which are generally known as Chir pine forests have tree height up to 120 ft. these are open inflammable pine forest sometimes with, but often without a dry evergreen shrub layer and little or no underwood. These types of forests are generally found in Abbottabad, Kashmir, Dir and Swat.

Himalayan moist temperate forests

The evergreen forests of conifers. Their undergrowth is rarely dense, and consists of both evergreen and deciduous species. These forests occur between 1500 m and 3000 m elevation in the Western Himalayas except where the rainfall falls below about 1000 mm. These forests are divided into a lower and an upper zone, in each of which definite species of conifers and oaks dominate. Mainly these are found in Murree, Kaghan, AJK and Nathiagali Shogran.

Himalayan dry temperate forests

These forests are open evergreen forest with open scrub undergrowth. Both coniferous and broad-leaved species are present. The annual total rainfall is less than 30 inches. This type of forests is confined to hilly country and most it on steep rocky slope. Himalayan dry temperate forests occur on the inner ranges throughout their lengths and mainly represented in the north-west.

Sub-alpine forests

Evergreen conifers and mainly evergreen broad-leaved trees occur in relatively low open canopy. Sub-alpine forests zone is topmost tree formation in Himalaya being developed between 11000 to 12000 feet on northern aspects. These forests receive appreciable amount of rainfall and snow. It is found in Kashmir, Dir, Swat, Chitral and Hazar.  Alpine scrub: Under this type are included shrub formations 1 m to 2 m high extending 150 m or more above the sub-alpine forests. Alpine scrub zone consists of limited number of species. The stems are generally, flexible and adapted to snow pressure. These forests are present in Kashmir, Hazara, and Upper Dir.

Grass Lands

Grasslands are environments in which grasses and grass like plants dominate the vegetation. Grasslands develop wherever rainfall is not high neither too light. There are few trees in grasslands because the climate is too dry, or the soils are not of a good quality. Grasslands can therefore support a high density of grazing animals. Temperate grasslands are found where the summers are hot, the winters cold, and rainfall is low throughout the year. Tropical grasslands grow where temperature is relatively high during the year round and rainfall occurs seasonally. Many grass species can grow back quickly. Fire and herds of large grazing animals are the factors which are found in most grassland areas. The animal life is mainly depending upon the grassland. Read more

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