(Down to Earth: Forests)
Jan 13: Forest Survey Report 2021 – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/forests/forest-survey-report-2021-11-states-have-lost-forest-cover-21-have-lost-good-forests-81107
- GS-3: Environment, Conservation
Forest Survey Report 2021
Definition of Forest Cover
- The Forest Survey of India defines ‘forest cover’ as all lands of a hectare or more with tree patches with canopy density of more than 10 per cent.
- This covers all lands, irrespective of legal ownership and land use.
- ‘Recorded forest area’ includes only those areas recorded as forests in government records and includes pristine forests.
Categories of Forest
- Very Dense Forest (with tree canopy density of 70 per cent or above)
- Moderately Dense Forest (tree canopy density of 40 per cent or above but less than 70 per cent)
- Open Forest (tree canopy density of 10 per cent or above but less than 40 per cent)
- Scrub (tree canopy density less than 10 per cent)
Open forests currently have the biggest share in the country’s forest cover, with 9.34 per cent of the total forest cover (307,120 sq km). Very dense forests (the pristine natural forests) account for just 3.04 per cent (99,779 sq km) of the total forest cover.
- Increase of 2,261 sq km in the total forest and tree cover of the country in last two years.
- Area-wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country.
- States in North East India have the highest percentage of forest cover.
- Maximum increase in forest cover witnessed in Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km) followed by Telangana (632 sq km) and Odisha (537 sq km).
- 17 states/UT’s have above 33 percent of the geographical area under forest cover.
- Total carbon stock in country’s forest is estimated to be 7,204 million tonnes, an increase of 79.4 million
- Total mangrove cover in the country is 4,992 sq km, an increase of 17 sq Km observed
Forests in India’s mountainous states
- There has been an increase in forest loss in India’s mountainous states along its Himalayan frontier, which are already in the throes of climate change
- Jammu and Kashmir has lost very dense forests but gained open forests. The increase in open forests is led by commercial plantations.
- The report has attributed the loss of forest cover in the Himalayas and North East to an increase in developmental activities as well as agriculture.
Forest cover across India’s 52 tiger reserves
There has been an overall decadal decline in forest cover across India’s 52 tiger reserves.
- 20 of the 52 tiger reserves have shown an increasing trend
- But the 32 remaining reserves have shown sharp declining trend
- The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve has the largest area under wetlands at 2,549.44 sq km. This means 96.76 per cent of its area is wetland. But the world’s largest mangrove delta and home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, is gradually losing its very dense mangrove cover.
- The rising salinity level in the delta is taking a toll on several mangrove species such as Sonneratia apetala, Nypa fruticans and Bruguiera gymnorhiza, among others. Due to reduced sweet water flow and intrusion of salt water from the sea, these trees are either dying or suffering from stunted growth.
- Increasing number of cyclones especially Cyclone Amphan
- The Kanha Tiger Reserve has the highest number of wetlands at 461, most of which are less than 2.25 hectares (ha) in size.
- The Kanha to Navegaon-Nagzira-Tadoba-Indravati tiger corridor that passes through Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra has the largest forest cover at 2,012.86 sq km.
Forest cover at its sole Lion Conservation Area (LCA) at Gir in Gujarat
- The LCA has seen a decrease of 33.43 sq km in its forest cover during the last decade
- It attributed the decrease to ‘habitat improvement measures’ taken in the last decade.
- This includes the removal of Prosopis juliflora, an invasive species from grassland areas and canopy manipulation for creating openings in the Very Dense Forest and Moderately Dense Forest areas.
- Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary have 31 wetlands
About India State of the Forest Report (ISFR)
- ISFR is a biennial publication of Forest Survey of India (FSI), an organization under the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.
- The ISFR assesses the forest and tree cover, bamboo resources, carbon stock and forest fires.
Did you know: As per UNESCO’s assessment on World Heritage forests, India’s Sundarbans National Park is among five sites that have the highest blue carbon stocks globally.
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