The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) released the India State of Forest Report 2021. Read to know the details of the report here.
The India State of Forest Report 2021 (ISFR) has found the country’s forest cover has increased by 1,540 sq km since 2019.
But a decline in the Northeast and degradation of natural forests are a concern.
In October 2021, MoEFCC proposed an amendment to the Forest Conservation act, of 1980 to bring a few important changes to forest governance in India.
India State of Forest Report (ISFR)
India State of Forest Report 2021 presents the latest status of the Forest cover and tree cover of the country.
It is published every two years, with the first survey being published in 1987. ISFR 2021 is the 17th edition published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI).
The India State of Forest Report 2021 is used for the planning, formulation of policies for forest management as well as forestry and agro-forestry sectors.
The report also provides data about India’s requirements to international organizations like Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and various conventions and commitments like UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), etc.
Forest-Related Terms: Video Explainer
3 categories of forests
Forests are divided into three categories-
- Very dense forests(canopy density over 70%)
- Moderately dense forests(40-70%)
- Open forests(10-40%).
Scrubs (canopy density less than 10%) are also surveyed but not categorized as forests.
The details and data of ISFR 2019 can be read here.
India State of Forest Report 2021
In a first, ISFR 2021 assessed forest cover in tiger reserves, tiger corridors, and the Gir forests, home of Asiatic lion.
- The forest cover in tiger corridors has increased by 15 sq km (0.32%) between 2011 and 2021 but decreased by 22.6 sq km (0.04%) in tiger reserves.
- In the last 10 years, forest cover has increased in 20 tiger reserves and decreased in 32.
Forest cover increased well in:
- Buxa (West Bengal)
- Annamalai (Tamil Nadu)
- Indravati reserves (Chhattisgarh)
The highest losses have been found in:
- Kawal (Telangana)
- Bhadra (Karnataka)
- Sunderban Reserve (West Bengal).
Pakke tiger reserve in Arunachal Pradesh has the highest forest cover, at nearly 97%.
Key Findings of the ISFR 2021
Increase in forest and tree area:
- The forest and tree cover in the country continues to increase. An additional cover of 1,540 square kilometers increased over the past two years.
- India’s forest cover is now7,13,789 square kilometers (21.71% of the country’s geographical area) which is an increase from 67% in 2019.
- Tree cover is defined as all tree patches of size less than one hectare occurring outside the recorded forest area. This covers trees in all formations including scattered trees. Tree cover has increased by 721 sq km.
Increase/Decrease in Forests:
- The states that have shown the highest increase in forest cover are Telangana (3.07%), Andhra Pradesh (2.22%), and Odisha (1.04%).
- Five states in the Northeast have shown a loss in forest cover: Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland
States with Highest Forest Area/Cover:
- Area-wise: Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Maharashtra.
- Forest cover as a percentage of total geographical area: Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, and Nagaland.
The ‘forest area’ denotes the legal status of the land as per the government records, whereas the term ‘forest cover’ indicates the presence of trees over any land.
- Mangroves have increased by 17 sq km making India’s total mangrove cover as 4,992 sq km.
- Top 3 states showing mangrove cover increase: Odisha (8 sq km), Maharashtra (4 sq km), and Karnataka (3 sq km).
Forest Prone to Fires:
- 46% of the forest cover is prone to forest fires.
- 81% are extremely prone, 7.85% are very highly prone and 11.51% are highly prone.
- By 2030, 45-64% of forests in India will experience the effects of climate change and rising temperatures.
- Forests in all states (except Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Nagaland) will be highly vulnerable climate hot spots.
- Ladakh (forest cover 0.1-0.2%) is likely to be the most affected.
Total Carbon Stock:
- Forest carbon stock is the amount of carbon that has been sequestered from the atmosphere and stored within the forest ecosystem. Such carbon is mainly stored within living biomass and soil and to some extent in deadwood and litter.
- The total carbon stock in the country’s forests is estimated at 7,204 million tonnes, showing an increase of 79.4 million tonnes since 2019.
- Bamboo forests have grown from 13,882 million culms (stems) in 2019 to 53,336 million culms in 2021.
Concerns as per the findings of the report:
A decline in Natural Forests:
- There is a 1,582 sq km decline in moderately dense or natural forests.
- The decline even with an increase of 2,621 sq km in open forest areas shows the degradation of forests in the country.
- The scrub area has increased by 5,320 sq km which indicates the complete degradation of forests in these areas.
- Very dense forests have increased by 501 sq km.
A decline in Forest Cover in Northeast:
- The forest cover in the northeast has shown an overall decline of 1,020 sq km.
- The Northeast states cover 98% of the total geographical area but have 23.75% of total forest cover.
- This decline in this region has been attributed to the series of natural calamities that occurred here like landslides and heavy rains, as well as to anthropogenic activities such as shifting agriculture, developmental activities, and extensive deforestation.