India State of Forest Report 2017
The 15th India State of Forest Report shows that India’s total forest cover increased by 0.94 per cent, from 7,01,673 square kilometers to 7,08,273 square kilometers since its last assessment in 2015.
The report also points towards an expansion of agro-forestry and private forestry. There is a jump from 42.77m3 in the 2011 assessment to 74.51m3 in timber production in ‘Trees outside Forests’ (TOF) category.
The increase of 8, 021 sq km in the forest cover has been observed as 6,778 sq km and that of tree cover as 1, 243 sq km. The total forest and tree cover is 24.39 per cent of the geographical area of the country. India has been trying to achieve to put 33 per cent of its geographical area under forest but has failed to do so.
Most of the increase in the forest cover was observed in Very Dense Forest (VDF) was a positive sign, as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, followed by increase in open forest.
( in sq kms)
|% of geographical area ( SFR 2017)||% of geographical area (SFR 2015)|
|Very dense forest||98,158||2.99||2.26|
|Moderately dense forest
(all lands with tree cover- including mangrove cover -of canopy density between 40-70%)
(all lands with tree cover – including mangrove cover- of canopy density between 10% and 40%)
|Total Forest Cover||7,08,||21.54||21.34|
The total forest and tree cover is 24.39 per cent of the geographical area of the country. There are encouraging sign that much of the increase in the forest cover has been observed in Very Dense Forest (VDF), as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The increase in forest cover in VDF is followed by increase in open forest. The only category that has registered a decline in the latest assessment is the Moderate Dense Forest.
India ranks among the top ten countries of the world in terms of forest area, despite the fact that none of the other 9 countries has a population density of more than 150 persons per sq km, compared to India, which has a population density of 382 persons per sq km.
India is ranked 10th in the world, with 24.4% of land area under forest and tree cover, even though it accounts for 2.4 % of the world surface area and sustains the needs of 17 % of human and 18 % livestock population. India is placed 8th in the list of Top Ten nations reporting the greatest annual net gain in forest area.
Three states – Andhra Pradesh (2141 sq km), followed by Karnataka (1101 sq km) and Kerala (1043 sq km) have shown the maximum increase in forest cover.
- Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,414 sq km (equal to Assam’s total area) in the country in terms of area, followed by Arunachal Pradesh with 66,964 sq km and Chhattisgarh (55,547 sq km).
- In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area, Lakshadweep with (90.33 per cent) has the highest forest cover, followed by Mizoram (86.27 per cent) and Andaman & Nicobar Island (81.73 per cent)”, the Minister stated.
- 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.
- 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.
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).
The increasing trend of forest and tree cover is largely due to the various national policies aimed at conservation and sustainable management of our forests like Green India Mission, National Agro-Forestry policy (NAP), REDD plus policy, Joint Forest Management (JFM), National Afforestation Programme and Funds under Compensatory Afforestation (COMPA) to States.
Successful agro-forestry practices, better conservation of forests, improvement of scrub areas to forest areas, increase in mangrove cover, conservation and protection activities have also led to increase in the forest and tree cover.
Green Highways (Plantations & Maintenance) Policy to develop 1,40,000 km long tree line with plantation along with both sides of national highways will go a long way in enhancing the forest & tree cover.
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 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.
Mangrove cover of the country has shown a positive change
As per ISFR 2017, mangrove forests have increased 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.
Mangrove eco-systems are rich in biodiversity and provide a number of ecological services. They also play a major role in protecting coastal areas from erosion, tidal storms and tsunamis.
The total mangrove cover stands at 4,921 sq km and has shown an increase of 181 sq km. All the 12 mangrove states have shown a positive change in the mangrove cover, as compared to the last assessment.
Mangrove ecosystem is rich in biodiversity and provides a number of ecological services.
Water bodies inside forests have increased over a decade
Forests play a vital role in water conservation and improve the water regime in the area.
State Forest Departments besides plantation and protection also undertake steps to improve water conservation through different interventions such as building Check dams, vegetation barriers, percolation ponds, contour trenches etc. under various Central & State Government schemes
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.
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.
The Government has recently enacted a Bill in the Parliament for taking out bamboo from the tree category, where it is grown outside forest areas. This will encourage people to grow bamboo on private lands, which will be helpful in increasing the livelihood opportunities for farmers and also enhance the green cover and carbon stock of the country.
- 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.
Striving towards achieving NDC goal
- 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.
Factfile - India State of Forest Report (ISFR)
- The biannual report is prepared by The Forest Survey of India (FSI), a body under MoEFCC, which conducts surveys and assessment of forest resources in the country.
- The information given in the report will serve as an important tool to monitor the country’s forest resources and plan suitable scientific and policy interventions for its management. It will also serve as a useful source of information for the policy makers, planners, State Forest Departments, line agencies involved in various developmental works, academicians, civil society and others interested in natural resource conservation and management.
- The India State of Forest Report 2017 is 15th such report in the series. In line with the Government of India’s vision of Digital India and the consequent need for integration of digital data sets, the Forest Survey of India has adopted the vector boundary layers of various administrative units upto districts developed by Survey of India along with digital open series topo sheets, bringing about full compatibility with the geographical areas as reported in Census, 2011.
- Forests play a vital role in water conservation and improve the water regime in the area. Considering the importance of water bodies in forest, FSI has assessed water bodies in forest cover for the decade 2005-2015. As per the assessment, there is an increase of 2,647 sq km in the extent of water bodies inside forest cover between 2005 to 2015.
- The report 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.
- The spatial information given in 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 data interpretation is followed by rigorous ground truthing. In addition extensive ground data collected by field parties at more than 18000 points all over the country and information from other collateral sources are also used to improve the accuracy of the interpreted image.
- Forest Survey of India (FSI) has been assessing the forest and tree resources of our country on a biennial basis since 1987. The results of the assessment are published in its biennial report titled “India State of Forest Report (ISFR)”.