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Forest, Tree Cover increases by 130 mha in four years

A Draft Correspondent | New Delhi

The Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) Prakash Javadekar released the biennial 'India State of Forest Report (ISFR)' in New Delhi on 30 December 2019. The report is published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), mandated to assess the forest and tree resources of the country including wall-to-wall forest cover mapping in a biennial cycle. Starting 1987, 16 assessments have been completed so far.

Announcing the results, the Minister said India is among the few countries in the world where forest cover is consistently increasing. He stated in the present assessment the total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.73 million hectares which is 24.56 percent of the total geographical area of the country.

Mr Javadekar further added as compared to the 2017 assessment, there is an increase of 5,188 sq km in the total forest and tree cover of the country. "Out of this, the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 3,976 sq km and that in the tree cover as 1,212 sq km; Range increase in forest cover has been observed in open forest followed by very dense forest and moderately dense forest and the top three states showing increase in forest cover are Karnataka (1,025 sq km) followed by Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km) and Kerala (823 sq km).

Major Findings of the Report

Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country area-wise followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. In terms of forest cover as percentage of total geographical area, the top five states are Mizoram (85.41%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%), Meghalaya (76.33%), Manipur (75.46%) and Nagaland (75.31%).

The Mangrove ecosystems are unique and rich in biodiversity providing numerous ecological services. Mangrove cover has been separately reported in the ISFR 2019 report. the total mangrove cover being 4,975 sq km. An increase of 54 sq km in mangrove cover has been observed as compared to the previous assessment of 2017. Top three states showing mangrove cover increase are Gujarat (37 sq km) followed by Maharashtra (16 sq km) and Odisha (8 sq km).

The total growing stock of India’s forests and TOF is an estimated 5,915.76 million culm of which 4,273.47 million culm is inside the forests and 1,642.29 million culm outside. There is an increase of 93.38 million culm of total growing stock, as compared to the previous assessment. Out of the increase in growing stock, there is an increase of 55.08 million culm inside the forests and 38.30 million culm outside the forest areas.

The extent of bamboo bearing area of the country is an estimated 16.00 million hectare. There is an increase of 0.32 million hectare in bamboo bearing area as compared to the last assessment of ISFR 2017. The total estimated green weight of bamboo culms is 278 million tonnes, an increase of 88 million tonnes as compared to ISFR 2017.

Under the current assessment, the total carbon stock in the country’s forest is an estimated 7,124.6 million tonnes with an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock compared to the last assessment of 2017. The annual increase in the carbon stock is 21.3 million tonnes - 78.2 million tonnes CO2 eq.

Wetlands within forest areas form important ecosystems and add richness to the biodiversity in forest areas of faunal and floral species both. FSI carried out an exercise at the national level to identify wetlands of more than 1 hectare within RFA. There are 62,466 wetlands covering 3.8 percent of the area within the RFA/GW of the country.

The information given in the report would provide valuable information for policy, planning and sustainable management of forest and tree resources in the country.

Download the full report here - Volume 1, Volume 2

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