India’s forest, tree cover up by 2,261 sq km in last two years: Report

Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km), Telangana (632 sq km) and Odisha (537 sq km) are the top three states with increased greenery

Area-wise, Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra.

The total forest and tree cover of India has increased by 2,261 sq km since 2019. Thus, the country now has forest in 80.9 million hectare land, which is 24.62 percent of the geographical area of the country, according to the ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’, prepared by the Forest Survey of India (FSI).

Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav released the report on Thursday (January 13) and expressed happiness over the fact that 17 states/UTs have above 33 percent of the geographical area under forest cover. For maintaining a healthy ecological balance, at least 33 per cent land should be covered by forest.

The report 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 and climate change hotspots in Indian forests.

Of the 2,261 sq km land area, the increase in forest cover has been observed in 1,540 sq km and that in tree cover is 721 sq km.

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Increase in forest 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).

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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%).

A total of 17 states/UTs have above 33 percent of the geographical area under forest cover. Of them, 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.

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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. An increase in carbon stock in forests is significant because forests are known as environment’s carbon sink for their ability to soak carbon dioxide and help mitigate global warming.

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