Forests across the globe have been exploited for resouces, and over the years the demand has increased, and forests are rather exploited instead of sustainable use. Focussed research on vegetation and forerst dynamics is necessary to preserve biodiversity and functioning of forests for sustanence of human life on Earth.This article emphasis that the India has a long history of traditional knowledge on forest and plants, and explorations from 17th century on forests and provided subsequent scientific approach on classification of forests. This also explains the developments of quantitative approach on the understanding of vegetation and forest diversity. Four case studies viz., Mudumalai, Sholayar, Uppangala, Kakachi permanent plots in the forests of Western Ghats has been explained in detail about their sampling methods with a note on the results of forest monitoring. In the case of deciduous forests, the population of plant species showed considerable fluctuations but basal area has been steadily increasing over time, and this is reflecting carbon sequestration. In Sholayar, a total of 25390 individuals of 106 woody species was recorded for < 1 cm diameter at breast height in the first census of the 10 ha plot in the tropical evergreen forest. In Uppangala, 1) a 27- year long investigation revealed that residual impact of logging in the evergreen forests and such forests would take more time to resemble unlogged forests in terms of composition and structure; 2) across a similar temporal scale, the unlogged plots trees < 30 cm gbh showed a more or less similar trend in mortality (an average of 0.8% year-1) and recruitment (1%). The Kakachi plot study revealed that 1) endemic species showed least change in stem density and basal area whereas widely distributed species showed greater change in both; 2) The overall recruitment of trees was 0.86 % per year and mortality 0.56% per year resulting in an annual turnover of 0.71% ; 3) majority of the gap species had high levels of recruitment and mortality resulting in a high turnover.Such studies can be used as early warning system to understand how the response of individual plants, species and forests with the climatic variability. In conclusion, the necessity of implementation of national level projects, the way forward of two such studies: 1) impact of climate change on Indian forests through Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) colloborations and 2) Indian long term ecological observatorion, including the sampling protocols of such studies. This will be the first of its kind in India to address climate change issues at national and international level and helps to trace footprints of climate change impacts through vegetation and also reveals to what extent our forests are resilient to changes in the climate.
Part of the book: Vegetation Index and Dynamics