Note:  Assistant Professor, Dept. of Natural Resources, TERI University. E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: This paper describes the dynamics of dry forest types in the southern part of India as a function of human interference; while forest fires are seen as the dominant anthropogenic impact. Three case studies from three different states show that locally demanded forest ecosystem services are linked to development stages that are predicted through the local forest management practices. Dry forests are considered one of the most vulnerable ecosystems of the world. In India, these have been transformed to a great extent into Savanna and grassland formations. The absence of human interference or a regulation of the same would allow the systems to turn back into different dry forest formations which would be characterized by a dense canopy and an absence of C4 grasses in the understory. The current pattern of the utilization of forest services determine the actual open structure of the systems and the services demanded depend on this structure. A change in structure and composition of the vegetation will therefore cause a shift in the services provided. Our understanding of the ecosystem services, derived from dry forest, although fair, lacks knowledge about the changes in quantity and quality of services provided by the dry forest and successional changes of the ecosystem. In this article, such knowledge has been considered essential in the context of the management and conservation of dry forests. Substantial progress in research can only be achieved if long term permanent observations under good monitoring are established.