2019 Forest assessment shows decrease in forest cover in tribal districts
Total Forest and Tree Cover rises to 24.56 percent of the total geographical area of the Country
The current assessment of forest cover (India State of Forest Report 2019) shows an increase of 3,976 sq km (0.56%) of forest cover, 1,212 sq km (1.29%) of tree cover and 5,188 sq km (0.65%) of forest and tree cover put together, at the national level as compared to the previous assessment i.e. ISFR 2017.
The top five States in terms of increase in forest cover are Karnataka (1,025 sq km), Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km), Kerala (823 sq km), Jammu & Kashmir (371 sq km) and Himachal Pradesh (334 sq km).
Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on Monday, 30 December, released the biennial “India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2019”. The report is published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) which has been mandated to assess the forest and tree resources of the country including wall-to-wall forest cover mapping in a biennial cycle. Starting 1987, 16 assessment have been completed so far. ISFR 2019 is the 16th report in the series.
Total forest cover in India is 21.67 per cent of the geographical area. Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
The total forest cover in the tribal districts is 4,22,351 sq km, which is 37.54% of the geographical area of these districts. What is alarming is that the current assessment shows a decrease of 741 sq km of forest cover within the RFA/GW (recorded forest area or green wash) in the tribal districts but at the same time it is also encouraging to note that there has been an increase of 1,922 sq km outside.
It has been assessed that the annual removal of the small timber by the people living in forest fringe villages is nearly 7% of the average annual yield of forests in the country.
Total forest cover in the North Eastern region is 1,70,541 sq km, which is 65.05% of its geographical area. The current assessment shows a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 765 sq km (0.45%) in the region. Except Assam and Tripura, all the States in the region show decrease in forest cover.
The total growing stock of wood in the country is estimated 5,915.76 million cum comprising 4,273.47 million cum inside forest areas and 1,642.29 million cum outside recorded forest areas (TOF). The average growing stock per hectare in forest has been estimated as 55.69 cum.
There are 62,466 wetlands covering 3.83% of the area within the RFA/GW of the country. The total number of wetlands located within the RFA/GW is 8.13%. Amongst the States, Gujarat has largest area of wetlands within RFA in the country followed by West Bengal.
Dependence of fuelwood on forests is highest in the State of Maharashtra, whereas, for fodder, small timber and bamboo, dependence is highest in Madhya Pradesh.
The quantity of removal of fodder, in terms of total removal, is estimated highest for Madhya Pradesh followed by Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The total removal of small timber is estimated highest for Madhya Pradesh followed by Gujarat and Maharashtra. removal of small timber largely takes place from the forests close to the villages.
The total removal of bamboo from forest, by the people living in FFVs is estimated highest for Madhya Pradesh followed by Chhattisgarh and Gujarat.
Fire prone forest areas of different severity classes have been mapped based on the frequency of forest fires. The analysis reveals that 21.40% of the forest cover of the country is highly to extremely fire prone.
An analysis of fire prone forest areas was carried out by FSI and the results were published in the Technical Information Series (Vol I, No I)3 report in January, 2019. Findings of the study indicate that nearly 4% of the country’s forest cover is extremely prone to fire, whereas 6% of forest cover is found to be very highly fire prone. More than 36% of the country’s forest cover has been estimated prone to frequent forest fires.