India State of Forest Report-2021

Published on - January 15, 2022

Biodiversity & Environment related Issues 

Source: The Hindu

Why in News?

The India State of Forest Report-2021 was recently released by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

The MoEFCC proposed an amendment to the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 in October 2021, which would result in significant changes to forest governance in India.

Key Points

About:

The Forest Survey of India publishes it every two years as an assessment of India's forest and tree cover.

The first survey was published in 1987, and ISFR 2021 is the 17th.

India is one of the few countries in the world that conducts such a survey every two years, and it is widely regarded as comprehensive and robust.

The ISFR is used in the planning and formulation of policies in the forest management, forestry, and agroforestry sectors.

There are three types of forests studied: very dense forests (canopy density greater than 70%), moderately dense forests (40-70%), and open forests (10-40 percent ).

Scrubs (canopy density less than 10%) are also surveyed but not classified as forests.

New Features of ISFR 2021:

It has assessed forest cover in tiger reserves, tiger corridors, and the Gir forest, which is home to the Asiatic lion for the first time.

Between 2011 and 2021, forest cover in tiger corridors increased by 37.15 square kilometres (0.32 percent), but decreased by 22.6 square kilometres (0.04 percent) in tiger reserves.

In the last ten years, forest cover has increased in 20 tiger reserves while decreasing in 32.

Buxa (West Bengal), Anamalai (Tamil Nadu), and Indravati reserves (Chhattisgarh) have seen an increase in forest cover, while Kawal (Telangana), Bhadra (Karnataka), and the Sunderbans reserves have seen the greatest losses (West Bengal).

Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh has nearly 97 percent forest cover.

Findings of the Report:

Increment in Area:

The country's forest and tree cover has increased by 1,540 square kilometres in the last two years.

India's forest cover has increased to 7,13,789 square kilometres, or 21.71 percent of the country's geographical area, up from 21.67 percent in 2019.

The area covered by trees has grown by 721 square kilometres.

Tree cover is defined as all tree patches less than one hectare in size that occur outside of the recorded forest area. This includes trees of all shapes and sizes, as well as scattered trees.

Increase/Decrease in Forests:

Telangana (3.07 percent), Andhra Pradesh (2.22 percent), and Odisha have seen the greatest increase in forest cover (1.04 percent ).

Forest cover has declined in five Northeastern states: Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland.

States with the greatest forest area/coverage:

Area-wise: Madhya Pradesh has the country's highest forest cover, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Maharashtra.

Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, and Nagaland are the top five states in terms of forest cover as a percentage of total geographical area.

The term 'forest area' refers to the legal status of the land as recorded by the government, whereas the term 'forest cover' refers to the presence of trees on any land.

Mangroves:

Mangroves have grown by 17 square kilometres. The total area of mangroves in India is now 4,992 square kilometres.

Fire-Prone Forests:

Forest fires threaten 35.46 percent of the forest cover. 2.81 percent are extremely prone, 7.85 percent are extremely highly prone, and 11.51 percent are highly prone.

Climate change and rising temperatures will affect 45-64 percent of India's forests by 2030.

Forests in all states (except Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Nagaland) will be extremely vulnerable to climate change. Ladakh (0.1-0.2 percent forest cover) is likely to be the most affected.

Total Carbon Stock:

The total carbon stock in the country's forests is estimated to be 7,204 million tonnes, an increase of 79.4 million tonnes since 2019.

The amount of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere and now stored within the forest ecosystem, primarily in living biomass and soil, but also to a lesser extent in dead wood and litter, is referred to as forest carbon stock.

Bamboo Forests: Bamboo forests have increased from 13,882 million culms (stems) in 2019 to 53,336 million culms in 2021.

Concerns:

Decline in Natural Forests:

There is a 1,582 square km decrease in moderately dense forests, also known as "natural forests."

The decline, combined with an increase of 2,621 square kilometres in open forest areas, indicates that the country's forests are degrading.

In addition, the scrub area has grown by 5,320 square kilometres, indicating that the forests in these areas have completely degraded.

The area of dense forests has grown by 501 square kilometres.

Northeast Forest Coverage Decline:

The region's forest cover has declined by 1,020 square kilometres overall.

The Northeast states account for 7.98% of total geographical area but 23.75% of total forest cover.

The decline in the Northeastern states has been attributed to a spate of natural calamities, particularly landslides and heavy rains, in the region as well as to anthropogenic activities such as shifting agriculture, pressure of developmental activities and felling of trees.

Governments Initiatives

National Mission for a Green India:

It is one of the eight Missions established by the National Climate Change Action Plan (NAPCC).

It was established in February 2014 with the goal of protecting our country's biological resources and associated livelihoods from the threat of adverse climate change, as well as to recognise the critical role of forestry in ecological sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and food, water, and livelihood security.

National Afforestation Programme (NAP):

It has been implemented since 2000 for the afforestation of degraded forest lands.

It is being implemented by the MoEFCC.

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, (CAMPA Funds):

Launched in 2016, 90% of the fund is to be given to the states while 10% is to be retained by the Centre.

The funds can be used for treatment of catchment areas, assisted natural generation, forest management, wildlife protection and management, relocation of villages from protected areas, managing human-wildlife conflicts, training and awareness generation, supply of wood saving devices and allied activities.

National Action Programme to Combat Desertification:

It was created in 2001 in order to address the issue of increasing desertification and to take appropriate action.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change is in charge of carrying it out.

FFPM (Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme):

It is the only federally funded programme dedicated solely to assisting states in dealing with forest fires.