New Delhi: Here is a good news for India. Unlike the global trend of decreasing forest cover during the last decade, India has shown an increasing trend in the forest and tree cover.

Releasing the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 here on Monday, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Harsh Vardhan pointed out that 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,” the Minister said.

He averred that despite such tremendous population and pressures of livestock on our forests, India has been able to preserve and expand its forest wealth. Harsh Vardhan added that as per the latest FAO report, India is placed 8th in the list of Top Ten nations reporting the greatest annual net gain in the forest area.

Quoting figures from the India State of Forest Report 2017, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that the latest assessment shows that there is an increase of 8,021 sq km (about 80.20 million hectares) in the total forest and tree cover of the country, compared to the previous assessment in 2015. He added that the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 6,778 sq km and that of tree cover as 1,243 sq km.

Giving the State-wise break-up, Harsh Vardhan said that 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 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%) has the highest forest cover, followed by Mizoram (86.27%) and Andaman and Nicobar Island (81.73%),” the Minister stated.

The present assessment also reveals that 15 states/UT’s have above 33% of the geographical area under forest cover. Out of these States and Union Territories, seven States/UTs namely Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur have more than 75% forest cover, while 8 states Tripura, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam have forest cover between 33% to 75%. About 40% 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 at 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.

 Hindustan Samachar