India lost more than a million hectares of forest cover in 17 years

Forests (representative image)
Forests (representative image)

India has reportedly lost over 1.6 million hectares of forests in the last 17 years — from 2001 to 2018 — causing nearly 172 metric tons of carbon emissions in the country. 

According to a recent study pushed out by a global research firm World Resource Institute (WRI) on 25 April 2019, the total forest cover loss during this period is equivalent to four times the geographical size of the Indian state of Goa. 

According to the Indian government, the vegetation cover taller than five metres accounts for the forest cover. Plantation cover can be considered as a forest, if there is a 10% density of tree cover per hectare, it added.

Of the total tree cover loss, the north-eastern states of India — Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Manipur — account for over half of the loss, highlighted the report. The forest cover was 12% of India’s geographical area, back in 2000, decreasing to 8.9% in 2010. 

One of the main reasons for the loss seen in north-eastern states is climate change, which directly affects the quality of forests, according to Ruchika Singh, director at WRI India. 

The states that have lost the maximum forest cover between 2015 and 2017 include Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana. This is also due to the public and private projects that have been going on in states, including the bullet train project. 

On the flipside, according to ‘State of the Forest Report,’ total forest cover in India is nearly 22% of the country’s geographical area, and has been gradually increasing over these years (2001-2018). 

“In the last two years forest and tree cover has increased by 1% in India, said Saibal Dasgupta, former director general of FSI. (Business Insider India)

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