Ecosystem & Biodiversity

Madhya Pradesh is blessed to be located on the genetic highway of India connecting the two most crucial biodiversity hotspots in the country, the western ghats and the northeast. Abundant biological and economical biodiversity trject Madhya Pradesh to showcase a diverse ecosystem with inhouse plateau,ravines, ridges, valleys, riparian areas and flat plains. The recent wildlife survey declared Madhya Pradesh as the “Tiger state of the country”.

9 national parks, 25 wildlife centuries and 4 varied forest types has made Madhya Pradesh one of the richest faunal and floral diversity.

Satpura National Park reflects an ideal central Indian Highland ecosystem. An unparalleled and diverse natural and land resources make this a primary habitat for civilizations. The area is blessed with rich and unique biodiversity.

Satpura hosts rare endemic plants like bryophytes and pteridophytes. Some common examples are Psilotum, Cyathea, Osmunda, Lycopodium, Lygodium, etc.

Satpura has a mixed & extremely rich biodiversity, as mentioned below :
Mammels : 44
Birds : 369
Reptiles : 50
Butterfly : 130
Dragonfly : 70
Spiders : 50
Plants : 1350

The landscape of Satpura National Park and Pachmarhi is unique in terms of biological diversity, offering varied theme of forests ranging from dry thorn forests to tropical dry deciduous.

Satpura National Park & it’s adjoining areas represents the central Indian Highlands and is a heterogeneous mosaic of a large contiguous forest area that includes protected areas where resource use has been stopped or controlled for a long time and the managed forests where it is still on.

Conservation significance of the area

Economic : The area represents the central Indian Highlands and the forests are economically amongst the most valuable of the dry deciduous types. Teak (Tectona grandis) also known as ‘king of timbers’ is the principal timber species. The largest size trees grow in the moister tracts of the Bori reserve in the north, no longer cut since the area is now included in the Satpura National Park and Bori Wildlife Sanctuary (M.P). There are several other less valuable timber species that grow along with teak. A small tract of sal (Shorea robusta) forests, another timber species among those most valuable that grow in India lies to the north-east, albeit on poor quality site, not harvested for a long time and now included in the PAs. The local forests and the forest dwelling tribal and non tribal communities economically are heavily dependent on these forests for their supply of small timber, fuel wood, bamboo, thatch grass, a variety of wild fruits, fibre, gum, seeds, medicinal forest produce, leaves, and fodder for grazing their cattle. Food items are derived from plant products with supplement of fish from streams. Leaves of the tendu tree (Diospyros melanoxylon) a nationalized produce collection provides large-scale employment and significant monitory gain for those engaged in collection activity. Tendu leaves support a multi-million-rupee industry.

Biological: The Satpura landscape represents one of the largest contiguous populations of the critically endangered tiger estimated between 120-140 individuals. The other endangered species include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians fishes and insects. A number of endangered plants are documented with at least four pteridophytes in that category.

The National Park and portions of the Wildlife sanctuaries represent ecological benchmarks, as they are least disturbed. The dry deciduous mixed forests represented are among the finest and diverse within this type.

Ecological processes and functions: There are at least 14 regionally important rivers in the Satpura landscape; those in the north drain into the Narmada and the southern into the Tapi. These with their tributaries sustain life- human, plant and wild animals within SCA and local economy depends on these in context of catchment’s capabilities and soil conservation. The Tawa reservoir across the Denwa and Tawa rivers is the arbiter of regional economy in the Hoshangabad district within the command area. Some of the finest wheat and Soyabean crops are raised here that have changed the face of economy in this tract outside the Satpuras.

Scientific: Since the protected areas are among the least disturbed tract, they are a repository of species richness and diversity; ecological processes and functions; diverse social systems, traditional lifestyles and wisdom. Opportunities for scientific research abound here.

Educational: Conservation education and nature interpretation opportunities in Satpura are wide-ranging and diverse which can serve an equally diverse target groups. The significant aspect is the likely emerging support for conservation of biological diversity.

Cultural: The rich and diverse tribal societies, their traditions and customs are a repository of nature’s wisdom. Most traditions and religious beliefs revolve around wild plants, animals, wilderness and living in harmony with nature. Several rock paintings believed to be more than 10000 years old hold the secrets of ancient civilizations. There are old forts and other historical sites, sites of religious pilgrimage that attract pilgrims from various parts of the country.
The landscape of Satpura Natonal Park and Pachmarhi is unique in terms of biological diversity, thus offering varied theme of forests ranging from dry thorn forests to tropical dry deciduous.

The Satpuras and Vindhyas are the two prominent mountain ranges of peninsular India. They gradually extent along a SW-NE direction before merging with western India. The two major rivers of Central India, Narmada and Tapti, flow along two prominent tectonic valleys in the Satpura and Vindhyan tract.

By nature, the Vindhyas have a gentle gradient towards north whereas towards south they form a steep scarp droppings deep down into the Narmada valley. The Satpuras have steep slopes that drop into the Narmada valley to the south and the Tapti valley to the northern part.

The Vindhyan mountains form the watershed of the river systems draining into the Indo-Ganga plains and those flowing towards south or west, the tributary river Son being an exception.

The ec-system of satpura and Pachmarhi supports the following forest types which have gradually developed in the region :

  • Open thorny forests, mainly scrub and arid vegetation
  • Mixed deciduous forests
  • Sal forests

The southern limit of Sal occur in this zone. Rich sal forests have developed in the northern portion of this zone, whereas teak forests occur in the southern part.
The boundary between Sal and Teak also passes through parts of this zone, thus making it ecologically crucial.
The following are the main species which occur in this zone :

  • Acacia leucophloea                             
  • A catechu
  • Anogeissus latifolia                   
  • Butea monosperma
  • Carrissa Spinarum
  • Diospyros melanoxylon
  • Euphorbia species
  • Ficus racemosa
  • Lagerstroemia species
  • Mimosa rubicaulis
  • Saccharum munja
  • Shorea robusta
  • Tectona grandis
  • Terminalia tomentosa
  • T Glabra
  • Ziziphus jujube
  • Rotundifolia

The pressure of dense population has a sustained intense biotonic effect on the vast forests of this zone.
The biotic pressure is mainly in the form of –

  • Grazing
  • Lopping
  • Illict removal of forest produces
  • Intentional fires
  • Removal of timbers for house building, agriculture purposes, etc.

Gradually, a retrogressive succession of development of open thorny vegetation replacing the dense forests is unavoidable. As a result of decrease in the ecosystem resistance of the forests, most of the part have been invaded by the problematic weed – lantana.
The botanic region of Satpura and Pachmarhi can be sub divided into two types :

  • The higher altitude dominated by moist, dry and peninsular sal forests in which Shorea Robusta is the principal species.
  • The plains having dry and moist teak forests dominated by Tectona Grandis.

There are also mixed deciduous forests in certain parts in which the main tree species are :

  • Tectona Grandis
  • Madhuca indica
  • Bombax ceiba
  • Acacia
  • Prosopis
  • Terminalia

Several hypothesis contributes that there was a continuous distribution of tree species which later became discontinuous as there occurred major changes in the landforms and physiographic set up.