India’s forest cover increases marginally to 24.01%

09 Jul 2014


The total forest and tree cover of the country stands at 78.92 million hectares, which is 24.01 per cent of the geographical area of the country - an increase of 5,871 sq km compared to the assessment of 2011, as per the latest assessment.

Minister of state for environment, forests and climate change Prakash Javadekar released the biennial report India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2013 in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Speaking on the occasion, Javadekar emphasised the need to enhance forest cover in the country and called for making afforestation a 'people's movement' as it was critical for stakeholders to participate in making environmental sustainability a reality.

According to the report, the majority of the increase in the forest cover has been in the open forest category, mainly outside forest areas. The maximum increase in forest cover has been observed in West Bengal (3,810 sq. km) followed by Odisha (1,444 sq. km.) and Kerala (622sq km).

Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,522 sq km in terms of area in the country, followed by Arunachal Pradesh with forest cover of 67,321 sq km.

In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to total geographical area, Mizoram with 90.38 per cent had the highest forest cover, followed by Lakshadweep with 84.56 per cent.

The latest assessment also reveals that 15 states / UTs had above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover.

Out of these, eight states, namely Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura, had more than 75 per cent forest cover while 7 states, namely, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam, had a forest cover between 33 per cent and 75 per cent.

The total growing stock of India's forest and trees outside forests is estimated at 5,658.046 million cu m, which comprises 4,173.362 million cu m inside the forests and 1,484.68 million cu m outside the forests.

Total carbon stock in the country's forest is estimated to be 6,941 million tonnes, which shows an increase of 278 million tonnes compared to the assessment year 2004, as reported in ISFR 2011.

The India State of Forest Report 2013, which is 13th in the series, contains information on forest cover, tree cover mangroves cover and growing stock inside and outside the forest areas. Special thematic information on forest cover such as hill districts, tribal districts, and north eastern region has also been given separately. The report also presents information on forest cover for all the states and districts for the latest assessment year and changes with respect to the previous assessment year.

Three new chapters have been added in the report:

  • Important characteristics of India's forests ( the report describes important features of forest areas like regeneration status, susceptibility to various injuries, crop composition, their origin, forest soil characteristic, etc,);
  • Trees in Agroforestry System (giving information on area, growing stock and carbon stock etc. under Agroforestry);and
  • Urban Tree Resources (giving information on green cover and growing stock of wood in urban areas).

The report is based on interpretation of LISS III sensor data of indigenous Resources Sat-II satellite with spatial resolution of 23.5 metres with minimum mapable area of one ha for the period October 2010–January 2012. The satellite interpretation was followed by extensive and rigorous ground validation. In addition, periodic ground data collected by field parties and information from other collateral sources were also used to improve the accuracy of the interpreted image. 

Forest Survey of India (FSI) has been assessing the forest and tree resources of our country on a biennial basis since 1987.

The results of the assessment have been published in its biennial report India State of Forest Report (ISFR). Change matrices recorded in the present report refer to changes with respect to the last report, ie. ISFR 2011.

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