[Short Notes] NCERT class VII : Our Environment – Life in temperate Grasslands – Chapter 9 – Part 1
Grassland can be defined as a region where grasses form the dominant type of plant life. Grasslands make up almost a quarter of the total land surface.
The types of plants that grow here greatly depend on what the climate and soil are like.
World’s grasslands is divided into two broad categories based on climate.
~ Those that occur in the temperate region
~ Those that occur in the tropical regions.
The temperate grasslands of North America.
It is a region of flat, gently sloping or hilly land. For the most part, prairies are treeless but, near the low lying plains, flanking river valleys, woodlands can be found.
Tall grass, upto two metres high, dominates, the landscape. It is actually a “sea of grass.”
The prairies are bound by the Rocky Mountains in the West and the Great Lakes in the East.
The prairies cover parts of United States of America and parts of Canada. In the USA, the area is drained by the
tributaries of Mississippi and the Canadian prairies are drained by the tributaries of Saskatchewan Rivers.
The grasslands of Prairies were the home of American Indians, more popularly known as ‘Blackfoot Indians’.
The Prairies were home of other tribes also like the Apache, the Crow, the Cree and the Pawnee.
Being located in the heart of a continent, the climate is of continental type with extreme temperatures.
The summers are warm with temperatures of around 20°C, while in winter -20°C has been recorded in Winnipeg, Canada.
In winters a thick blanket of snow covers this region. The annual rainfall is moderate and is ideal for the growth of grass. Due to the absence of the north-south barrier, a local wind “Chinook” blows here.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Prairies are practically tree-less. Where water is available, trees such as willows, alders and poplars grow.
Places that receive rainfall of over 50 cm, are suitable for farming as the soil is fertile.
Though the major crop of this area is maize, other crops including potatoes, soybean, cotton and alfa-alfa is also grown.
Areas where rainfall is very little or unreliable, grasses are short and sparse. These areas are suitable for cattle rearing. Large cattle farms called ranches are looked after by sturdy men called cowboys.
Bison or the American buffalo is the most important animal of this region.
It nearly got extinct due to its indiscriminate hunting and is now a protected species.
The other animals found in this region are rabbits, coyotes, gophers and Prairie dog.
The people of this region are very hardworking.
They have successfully harnessed technology to utilise their rich natural resources. Two of the most developed
countries in the world – the USA and Canada are located in this region.
Scientific methods of cultivation and use of tractors, harvesters and combines has made North America a surplus food producer.
The Prairies are also known as the “Granaries of the world,” due to the huge surplus of wheat production.
Dairy farming is another major industry.
The dairy belt extends from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Coast in the east. Dairy farming and extensive agriculture both promote setting up of food processing industries.
Large mineral deposits particularly coal and iron and a good network of roads, railways and canals in this region have made it the most industrialised region in the world.