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India’s green cover swells by 8,021 km2

| | New Delhi

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, says “The India State of Forest Report 2017”, released on Monday.

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.

Released by Union Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and his deputy Mahesh Verma, the report notes that the States where forest and tree cover increased the most are in the South — Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and Telangana. On the other hand, 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. He said India has seen the forest and tree cover soar as against the global trend.

He said the encouraging sign was that much of the increase in forest cover has been observed in very dense forest (VDF) category, as they absorb maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“The increase in forest cover in VDF is followed by increase in open forest,” the Minister said. He said 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), he said.

“Work has already started for preparing ISFR 2019,” he said. 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).

The survey also said 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).

The five States where forest cover has decreased most are Mizoram (531 sq kms), Nagaland (450 sq kms), Arunachal Pradesh (190 sq kms), Tripura (164 sq kms) and Meghalaya (116 sq kms). The main reasons for the decrease are shifting cultivation, other biotic pressures, rotational felling and diversion of forest lands for developmental activities, submergence of forest cover, agriculture expansion and natural disasters, the officials said.

The present assessment also reveals that 15 States and Union Territories (UTs) have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover. Out of these States and UTs, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur have more than 75 per cent forest cover, while eight -- Tripura, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam have forest cover between 33 per cent and 75 per cent.

“18,000 points have been physically surveyed in a scientific manner in the preparation of the report,” Mahesh Sharma said.

“India is ranked the 10th in the world, with 24.4 per cent of land area under forest and tree cover,” Vardhan said.



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