What is the importance of forests in the Himalayan region?

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gsenviro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Forest carry out a number of functions and affect the ecologic and economic well-being of human beings. Forests anchor the soils and prevent soil erosion, regulate water flow and protect watershed, provide shelter and food to animals & human beings, capture carbon dioxide and generate oxygen, capture moisture from the environment, stabilize slopes, etc. In a hilly region as vast and as important as the Himalayas, their importance is even more. Millions of people live in and around these mountains and many of them are dependent on the Himalayas for their livelihood. The forests in the Himalayas hold onto loose gravely soil on hill slopes and prevent rapid erosion of soil, especially during the monsoon season. If unchecked by forests, the resulting erosion would cause large quantities of soil to flow along with the rain water and cause large scale destruction in downstream areas. The forests also capture moisture in the form of snow and regulate the river flows, thereby ensuring perennial water supply to millions living downstream. A large number of people use dry woods from these forests for cooking food and heating purposes. Animals living in the region are also dependent on these forests for habitat.

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