NEW DELHI: India’s total forest cover increased by 0.94 per cent in the last two years, shows the State of Forest Report 2017, released by the Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan and Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State, Ministry of Environment & Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
The 15th State of Forest Report shows that India’s total forest cover increased by 0.94 per cent, from 7,01,673 square kilometers to 7,08,273 square kilometers since its last assessment in 2015.
The biannual report is prepared by The Forest Survey of India (FSI), a body under MoEFCC, which conducts surveys and assessment of forest resources in the country.
“India is ranked the 10th in the world, with 24.4 per cent of land area under forest and tree cover,” Vardhan said.
The report also points towards an expansion of agro-forestry and private forestry. There is a jump from 42.77m3 in the 2011 assessment to 74.51m3 in timber production in Trees outside Forests (TOF) category.
At the launch, the Union Environment Minister stated that there is an increase of 8,021 sq km (about 80.20 million hectares) in the total forest and tree cover of the country compared to the 2015 assessment.
The increase in the forest cover has been observed as 6,778 sq km and that of tree cover as 1, 243 sq km. “The total forest and tree cover is 24.39 per cent of the geographical area of the country,” said the minister.
However, India has been trying to achieve to put 33 per cent of its geographical area under forest but has failed to do so.
That most of the increase in the forest cover was observed in Very Dense Forest (VDF) was a positive sign, added Vardhan, as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “The increase in forest cover in VDF is followed by increase in open forest,” he said.
FSI used remote sensing as well as ground work. The results were based on interpretation of satellite data from October 2015 to February 2016. The FSI has been assessing forests resources biannually since 1987.
- India’s forest and tree cover has increased by 8,021 sqkm to 8,02,088 sqkm, up by 1 per cent since 2015. The total forest cover is 24.39 per cent of the country’s geographical area.
- Crediting the Centre’s Green India Mission, National Agro-Forestry policy, Joint Forest Management, National Afforestation Programme, and funds under Compensatory Afforestation to States, the study also found that the “very dense forest category” has increased by 1.36 per cent since 2015.
- States where forest and tree cover increased the most are in the South — Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and Telangana.
- Decline was noticed in the N-E region, such as Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya.
- The increase in the forest cover is 6,778 sqkm and that of tree cover is 1,243 sqkm. Vardhan said.
- India has seen the forest and tree cover soar as against the global trend.
- Madhya Pradesh (77,414 sq kms) has the largest forest cover in the country in terms of area, followed by Arunachal Pradesh (66,964 sq kms) and Chhattisgarh (55,547 sq kms).
- In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area, Lakshadweep with (90.33 per cent) has the highest forest cover, followed by Mizoram (86.27 per cent) and Andaman & Nicobar Island (81.73 per cent).
- The top five States where forest cover has increased the most are: Andhra Pradesh (2,141 sq kms), Karnataka (1,101 sq kms), Kerala (1,043 sq kms), Odisha (885 sq kms) and Telangana (565 sq kms).
- Water bodies inside forest cover increased by 2,647 sq kms during last decade with Maharashtra (432 sq kms) topping the list followed by Gujarat (428 sq kms) and Madhya Pradesh (389 sq kms).