With Rising Forest Cover, India Is Really Going Green
At a time when the country is battling major environmental challenges, the India State of Forest Report (ISFR)-2017 gives it a reason to breathe a little easy. The report which is published once in two years reveals that India’s forest cover has actually increased in the past two years.
Let us look at the key findings of the report.
The green cover
India's tree and forest cover has seen an increase of one per cent (8,021 square kilometre or sqkm) since 2015. Currently, India’s total forest cover is 708,273 sqkm, 21.54 per cent of the total geographical area of the country. India’s combined forest and tree cover is 802,088 sqkm or 24.39 per cent of the total geographical area.
It is worth mentioning here that forest cover has been decreasing globally in the past decade. Also, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, India is placed eight on the list of top 10 nations reporting the greatest annual net gain in the forest area.
The rising concentration
Much of the increase in India’s forest cover has been witnessed in the “very dense forest” segment—an increase of 1.36 per cent since 2015. This category absorbs the highest amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The water content
Water bodies inside forest cover have increased by 2,647 sq kms during last decade. It said Maharashtra (432 sq kms), Gujarat (428 sq kms), Madhya Pradesh (389 sq kms) are top three states showing an increase in water bodies within forest areas. "Overall, almost all the states have shown a positive change in water bodies," the report said.
The report says that 15 states and union territories (UTs) have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover. Of these, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur have more than 75 per cent forest cover. Tripura, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam have forest cover ranging between 33 per cent and 75 per cent.
The greenest of them all
In terms of area, Madhya Pradesh (77,414 sqkm) has the largest forest cover in India. Following the central state at second and third, respectively, are Arunachal Pradesh (66,964 sqkm) and Chhattisgarh (55,547 sq km).
Lakshadweep (90.33 per cent), Mizoram (86.27 per cent) and the Andaman and Nicobar Island (81.73 per cent) are the top three states in terms of percentage of forest cover when compared to the total geographical area.
States, where the forest cover has increased the most in the past two years, are Andhra Pradesh (2,141 sqkm), Karnataka (1,101 sqkm), Kerala (1,043 sqkm), Odisha (885 sqkm) and Telangana (565 sqkm).
States, where the forest cover has decreased most during the period, are Mizoram (531 sqkm), Nagaland (450 sqkm), Arunachal Pradesh (190 sqkm), Tripura (164 sqkm) and Meghalaya (116 sqkm). However, in all these states, the total forest cover is over more than 70 per cent.
With inputs from Housing News