India State of Forest Report 2021

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    In News 

    • Recently, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change released the ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’ 

    About India State of Forest Report 

    • It is published every two years by the Forest Survey of India under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
      •  The first survey was published in 1987, and ISFR 2021 is the 17th.
    • The ISFR-2021 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.
    • Methodology 
      • The survey used mid-resolution Satellite data which is based on interpretation of LISS-III data from Indian Remote Sensing satellite data (Resourcesat-II) with a spatial resolution of 23.5 meters with the scale of interpretation 1:50,000 to monitor forest cover and forest cover changes at District, State and National level.
      • The satellite data interpretation is followed by rigorous ground-truthing.
    • Accuracy: The accuracy of forest cover classification has been assessed at 92.99%. 
    • The accuracy of classification between forest and non-forest classes has been assessed 95.79% against internationally accepted accuracy of classification of more than 85%,
    • Feature of ISFR 2021
    • In the present ISFR 2021, FSI has included a new chapter related to the assessment of forest cover in the Tiger Reserves, Corridors and Lion conservation area of India.
    • Significance 
    • the information given in the report would provide valuable information for policy, planning and sustainable management of forest and tree resources in the country.
    • Criticism 
      • The survey results could be misleading as it includes plantations – such as coffee, coconuts or mango and other orchards – under forest cover. 
        • These plantations are distinctly different from natural forests where one hectare would be home to hundreds of species of trees, plants and fauna, whereas such plantations house only one species of tree

    Major Findings of ISFR 2021

    •  The total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.9 million hectares which are 24.62 per cent of the geographical area of the country. 
      • As compared to the assessment of 2019, there is an increase of 2,261 sq km in the total forest and tree cover of the country.
        •  An increase in forest cover has been observed in the open forest followed by a very dense forest.

    Image Courtesy: IE

    • The top three states showing an increase in forest cover are Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km) followed by Telangana (632 sq km) and Odisha (537 sq km).
    • Areas wise: Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. 
    • Forest cover as a percentage: In terms of forest cover as a 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%).
      • 17 states/UT’s have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover. 
    • The 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.
    • Total carbon stock in the country’s forest is estimated to be 7,204 million tonnes and there is an increase of 79.4 million tonnes in the carbon stock of the country as compared to the last assessment of 2019.
      •  The annual increase in carbon stock is 39.7 million tonnes.
    •  Forest fires
      • 35.46 % of the forest cover is prone to forest fires. Out of this, 2.81 % is extremely prone, 7.85% is very highly prone and 11.51 % is highly prone
    • The forest cover in tiger corridors has increased by 37.15 sq km (0.32%) between 2011-2021 but decreased by 22.6 sq km (0.04%) in tiger reserves. 

    Concerns 

    • Five states in the Northeast – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland have all shown loss in forest cover. It is of great concern as the Northeastern states are repositories of great biodiversity. 
      • The loss occurred due to natural calamities, particularly landslides and heavy rains, in the region as well as to anthropogenic activities such as shifting agriculture, the pressure of developmental activities and felling of trees
    • by 2030, 45-64% of forests in India will experience the effects of climate change and rising temperatures, and forests in all states (except Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland) will be highly vulnerable to climate hot spots. 

    Governments Policy in this direction

    • National Forest Policy, 1988
      • It aims to ensure environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance including atmospheric equilibrium which is vital for sustenance of all life forms, human, animal and plant.  
      • The basic objectives 
        • Conserving the natural heritage of the country by preserving the remaining natural forests with the vast variety of flora and fauna, which represent the remarkable biological diversity and genetic resources of the country.
        • Checking soil erosion and denudation in the catchments areas of rivers, lakes, reservoirs in the “interest of soil and water conservation, for mitigating floods and droughts and for the retardation of siltation of reservoirs.
        • Checking the extension of sand-dunes in the desert areas of Rajasthan and along the coastal tracts.
        • Increasing substantially the forest/tree cover in the country through massive afforestation and social forestry programmes, especially on all denuded, degraded and unproductive lands.

    Source: TH