The Forest Survey of India (FSI) has been publishing a series of biennial assessment report of the forest cover in the country since 1987. The India State of Forest Report is recognized as the authoritative assessment of the country’s forest resources.

The India State of Forest Report 2017 is the 15th report in the series. The report is based on interpretation of LISS-III data from Indian Remote Sensing satellite data (Resourcesat-II) with a spatial resolution of 23.5 meters. Satellite data for the entire country was procured from NRSC for the period October, 2015 – February, 2016. The satellite interpretation was followed by extensive and rigorous ground truthing. 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.

The India State of Forest Report 2017 contains information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock inside and outside the forest areas, carbon stock in India’s forests and forest cover in different patch size classes. Special thematic information on forest cover such as hill, tribal districts, and north eastern region has also been given separately in the report. The report for the first time contains information on decadal change in water bodies in forest during 2005-2015, forest fire, production of timber from outside forest, state wise carbon stock in different forest types and density classes.

Salient findings

  • Forest and Tree Cover of the country has increased by 8,021 sq km (1 %) as compared to assessment of 2015. The very dense forest has increased by 1.36 % as compared to last assessment. This is very heartening as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Top 5 states where maximum forest cover has increased 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).
  • Top 5 states where forest cover has decreased are Mizoram (531 sq km), Nagaland (450 sq km), Arunachal Pradesh (190 sq km), Tripura (164 sq km) and Meghalaya (116 sq km). It is important to mention here that these states are in the North Eastern region of the country where the total forest cover is very high i.e. more than 70% in each state.
  • The present assessment also reveals that 15 states/UT’s have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover. Out of these States and Union Territories, seven States/UTs namely Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur have more than 75 per cent forest cover, while 8 states – Tripura, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam have forest cover between 33 per cent to 75 per cent. About 40% per cent of the country’s forest cover is present in 9 large contiguous patches of the size of 10, 000 sq.km, or more.
  • The total growing stock of India’s forest and trees outside forests is estimated as 5,822.377 million cum, of which 4,218.380 million cum is inside the forests and 1,603.997 million cum outside. There is an increase of 53.990 million cum of total growing stock, as compared to the previous assessment. Out of this the increase in growing stock, there is an increase of 23.333 million cum inside the forest and 30.657 million cum outside the forest area. The total carbon stock in the country’s forest is estimated to be 7,082 million tonnes, which shows an increase of 38 million tonnes, as compared to the previous assessment.
  • The extent of bamboo-bearing area in the country has been estimated at 15.69 million ha. In comparison to the last assessment done in 2011, there has been an increase of 1.73 million ha in bamboo area.  The growing stock of the bamboo in forest has been estimated to be 189 million tonnes. There is an increase of 19 million tonnes in the bamboo-growing stock as compared to the last assessment done in 2011. The total annual potential production of timer from trees outside forest has been estimated at 74.51 million cum.
  • As per the latest assessment, water bodies inside forest cover have increased by 2,647 sq kms during the last decade. Maharashtra (432 sq kms), Gujarat (428 sq kms), Madhya Pradesh (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.
  • As per ISFR 2017, mangrove forests have in creased by 181 sq kms. Maharashtra (82 sq kms), Andhra Pradesh (37 sq kms) and Gujarat (33 sq kms) are the top three gainers in terms of mangrove cover. 7 out of the 12 mangrove states have shown an increase in mangrove cover and none of them show any negative change.
  • India is striving towards achieving its NDC goal of creating additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3.0 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. As per present assessment total carbon stock in forest is estimated to be 7,082 million tonnes. There is an increase of 38 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment.