Economy, Forestry and Fishing
Ganges Delta, annual fish, deodar, forestland, Loss of topsoil
Although relatively undeveloped on a national scale, large-scale commercial fishing is vital to the economy in certain regions, such as the Ganges Delta in West Bengal and along the southwestern coast. Small-scale fishing is widespread, taking place in oceans, lagoons, rivers, ponds, wells, and even flooded paddy fields; these fish are typically sold in street markets. In recent years the government has encouraged deep-sea fishing by building processing plants and giving aid to oceangoing fleets and vessels. Local, more traditional fishers protest this encouragement because they see it as a threat to their livelihood. In 1997 the government recorded an annual fish catch of 5.4 million metric tons, about half of which was marine species. In 1996 fishing contributed 1.2 percent of India’s GDP.
Forests cover 22 percent of India’s total land area. The area of land planted in trees has increased steadily since 1990 due to government and commercial plantation schemes. However, in the 1990s trees large enough for lumber production were harvested at a rate faster than they could regenerate. Loss of topsoil in harvested areas as well as forestland lost to development and agriculture have also contributed to India’s difficulties achieving sustainable timber harvests. Industrial timber species include teak, deodar (a type of cedar), and sal. Products such as charcoal, fruits and nuts, fibers, oils, gums, and resins are among the most valuable commodities from India’s forests.
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