Chhattisgarh and Assam have forest cover between 33 per cent to 75 per cent Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan said on Monday.
Strongly emphasising the increasingly green credentials of the country, the Union Minister said that India has shown an increasing trend in the forest and tree cover, in comparison to the global trend of decreasing forest cover during the last decade.
Releasing the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 in New Delhi on Monday , Dr. Harsh Vardhan pointed out that India ranks among the top ten countries of the world in terms of forest area, despite the fact that none of the other 9 countries has a population density of more than 150 persons per sq km, compared to India, which has a population density of 382 persons per sq km.
“India is ranked 10th in the world, with 24.4% of land area under forest and tree cover, even though it accounts for 2.4 % of the world surface area and sustains the needs of 17 % of human and 18 % livestock population”, the Minister said.
He averred that despite such tremendous population and pressures of livestock on our forests, India has been able to preserve and expand its forest wealth.
Giving the State-wise break-up, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that three states - Andhra Pradesh (2141 sq km), followed by Karnataka (1101 sq km) and Kerala (1043 sq km) have shown the maximum increase in forest cover. “Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,414 sq km in the country in terms of area, followed by Arunachal Pradesh with 66,964 sq km and Chhattisgarh (55,547 sq km). 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 Minister stated.
Referring to the enormity of the task of preparing the State of Forest Report, the Minister said, “Work has already started for preparing ISFR 2019”.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State in MoEF&CC, Dr Mahesh Sharma said that 18,000 points have been physically surveyed in a scientific manner in the preparation of the report.
He appealed to the society and media to help in the huge task of conserving and protecting the forests.
Addressing the gathering, Secretary, MoEF&CC, C.K Mishra underlined that economic value of the forests must be realised and forests should be used economically.
He emphasised that the value of forests is more for the people living in and around forests, hence the most critical issue is for whom is this exercising being conducted.
The Minister stated that forests do not exist in isolation and the benefits of the forests must be transferred to the people.
He stressed that issues related to agro-forestry and degraded forests must be paid attention to.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan added that as per the latest FAO report, India is placed 8th in the list of Top Ten nations reporting the greatest annual net gain in forest area.