Recently, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change released the ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’ prepared by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) which has been mandated to assess the forest and tree resources of the country.
- The report is a biennial publication. This is the 17th such report since its inception in 1987.
Major Findings of India State of Forest Report 2021
- Forest report 2021 has found that the forest and tree cover in the country continues to increase with an additional cover of 1,540 square kilometres over the past two years.
- India’s forest cover is now 7,13,789 square kilometres, 21.71% of the country’s geographical area, an increase from 21.67% in 2019. Tree cover has increased by 721 sq km.
- Increase in forest cover has been observed in open forest followed by very dense forest. Top three states showing increase in forest cover are Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km) followed by Telangana (632 sq km) and Odisha (537 sq km).
- Area-wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. In terms of forest cover as percentage of total geographical area, the top five States are Mizoram (84.53%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%), Meghalaya (76.00%), Manipur (74.34%) and Nagaland (73.90%).
- 17 states/UT’s have above 33 percent of the geographical area under forest cover. Out of these states and UT’s, five states/UTs namely Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have more than 75 percent forest cover while 12 states/UTs namely Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Assam, Odisha, have forest cover between 33 percent to 75 percent.
- Total mangrove cover in the country is 4,992 sq km. An increase of 17 sq Km in mangrove cover has been observed as compared to the previous assessment of 2019. Top three states showing mangrove cover increase are Odisha (8 sq km) followed by Maharashtra (4 sq km) and Karnataka (3 sq km).
- Total carbon stock in country’s forest is estimated to be 7,204 million tonnes and there an increase of 79.4 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment of 2019. The annual increase in the carbon stock is 39.7 million tonnes.
India’s growing stock
- Arunachal Pradesh ranks highest in terms of the total volume of growing stock at 418.99 mcum, followed by Uttarakhand with 401.01 mcum, Chhattisgarh has 389.64 mcum while Madhya Pradesh ranks fourth in the country with 374.44 mcum.
- The highest per ha growing stock of forest among Union territories is in Ladakh, followed by Jammu and Kashmir and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Sal tree (Shorea robusta) contributes about 10.87 per cent to the growing stock with a volume a 476.94 mcum, followed by Teak.
- Trees outside forests are a major source of forest produce such as timber, firewood and small wood supply. However, experts feel that scientific management of forests can also contribute to the growing demand of timber in the country.
- TOFs are one of the important renewable resources that contribute to climate change mitigation, as every patch of forest around the world absorbs carbon, the report said.
- There has been an increase in forest loss in India’s mountainous states along its Himalayan frontier, which are already in the throes of climate change.
- There has been an overall decadal decline in forest cover across India’s 52 tiger reserves as well as its sole Lion Conservation Area (LCA) of Gir in Gujarat.
- The northeastern states of India — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim — have lost 1,020 square kilometres of forest during 2019-2021.
- Overall, India has recorded an increase of 1,540 sq kms in its forest cover, according to the India’s State of Forest Report 2021. India’s total forest cover is 713,789 sq km or 21.71 per cent of the total geographical area of the country. India has set a target of bringing 33 per cent of its geographical area under forest cover.
Back to basics
About ISFR 2021
- The ISFR 2021 provides information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock, carbon stock in India’s forests, forest fire monitoring, forest cover in tiger reserve areas, above ground estimates of biomass using SAR data & climate change hotspots in Indian forests.
- The biennial assessment of forest cover of the country using mid-resolution Satellite data is based on interpretation of LISS-III data from Indian Remote Sensing satellite data (Resourcesat-II) to monitor forest cover and forest cover changes at District, State and National level.
- The accuracy level achieved in the current assessment is the significantly high. The accuracy of forest cover classification has been assessed 92.99%. The accuracy of classification between forest and non-forest classes has been assessed 95.79% against internationally accepted accuracy of classification of more than 85%.
- In the present ISFR 2021, FSI has included a new chapter related to the assessment of forest cover in the Tiger Reserves, Corridors and Lion conservation area of India. In this context, the decadal assessment of change in forest cover within Tiger Reserves, Corridors and Lion conservation area helps in assessing the impact of conservation measures and management interventions that have been implemented over the years.
- For decadal assessment, change in forest cover, during the period between ISFR 2011 (data period 2008 to 2009) and the current cycle (ISFR 2021, data period 2019-2020) within each Tiger Reserves has been analysed.
- A new initiative of FSI has also been documented in the form of a chapter, where the ‘Above Ground Biomass’ has been estimated. FSI, in collaboration with Space Application Centre (SAC), ISRO, Ahmedabad, initiated a special study for estimation of Above Ground Biomass (AGB) at pan-India level, using L- band of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data.
- FSI in collaboration of with Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS) Pilani, Goa Campus has performed a study based on ‘Mapping of Climate Change Hotspots in Indian Forests’.
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