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India's forest, tree cover up by 1 per cent in 2 years: Govt

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

India's tree and cover has registered an increase of one per cent or 8,021 sq km in two years since 2015, according to the latest assessment by the government.

The State of Report (ISFR) 2017 was released by and his deputy Mahesh Sharma here today.

said has shown an increasing trend in the and tree cover as against the global trend of decreasing forest cover during the last decade.

According to the report, the total forest cover is 7,08,273 sq km, which is 21.54 per cent of the total geographical area of the country. Forest and tree cover combined is 8,02,088 sq km or 24.39 per cent of the total geographical area.

The ministry said in the latest assessment that very dense forest in has also increased by 1.36 per cent as compared to 2015. ISFR is released every two years.

"There is an increase of 8,021 sq km (about 80.20 million hectare) in the total forest and tree cover of the country, compared to the previous assessment in 2015.

"The increase in the forest cover has been observed as 6,778 sq km and that of tree cover as 1,243 sq km," Harsh Vardhan said.

He said that 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 said, adding that ISFR 2017 has been prepared with the help of

He said (77,414 sq km) has the largest forest cover in the country in terms of area, followed by (66,964 sq km) and (55,547 sq km).

In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area, with (90.33 per cent) has the highest forest cover, followed by (86.27 per cent) and Andaman and (81.73 per cent), he said.

"Work has already started for preparing ISFR 2019," he said.

The top five states where maximum forest cover has increased are (2,141 sq kms), (1,101 sq kms), (1,043 sq kms), Odisha (885 sq kms) and Telangana (565 sq kms).

The survey, which has for the first time assessed water bodies, said that these bodies inside forest cover have increased by 2,647 sq kms during last decade.

It said (432 sq kms), (428 sq kms), (389 sq kms) are top three states showing increase in water bodies within forest areas.

"Overall, almost all the states have shown a positive change in water bodies," it said.

The five states where forest cover has decreased most are (531 sq km), (450 sq km), (190 sq km), (164 sq km) and (116 sq km).

Ministry officials said that these states are in the Northeast where the total forest cover is very high -- more than 70 per cent in each state.

The main reasons for the decrease are shifting cultivation, other biotic pressures, rotational felling, diversion of forest lands for developmental activities, submergence of forest cover, agriculture expansion and natural disasters, they 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, and have more than 75 per cent forest cover, while eight -- Tripura, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and 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 10th in the world, with 24.4 per cent of land area under forest and tree cover, even though it accounts for 2.4 per cent of the world's surface area and sustains the needs of 17 per cent of human and 18 per cent livestock population," said.

The said as per the latest Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, India is placed 8th in the list of top ten nations reporting the greatest annual net gain in forest area.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 12 2018. 17:15 IST