Environment facts

By Vikaspedia on 06 Apr 2017 | read
  1 092



Forests are a very crucial natural resource and have always been central in human life. Forests provide renewable raw materials and energy, maintain biological diversity, mitigate climate change, protect land and water resources, provide recreation facilities, improve air quality and help alleviate poverty.

Forest cover indicates all lands, more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10% irrespective of ownership and legal status.

The Forest Survey of India (FSI) has been publishing a series of biennial assessment report of the forest cover in the country since 1987. The India State of Forest Report is recognized as the authoritative assessment of the country’s forest resources.

The India State of Forest Report 2015 is the 14th report in the series. The report is based on interpretation of LISS III sensor data of indigenous Resourcesat-II satellite with spatial resolution of 23.5 meter with minimum mapable area of one ha for the period October 2013– February 2014. The satellite interpretation was followed by extensive and rigorous ground truthing. In addition, periodic ground data collected by field parties and information from other collateral sources were also used to improve the accuracy of the interpreted image. Change matrices recorded in the present report refer to changes with respect to the last report i.e. ISFR 2013.

The India State of Forest Report 2015 contains information on national, state and district-wise forest cover, tree cover mangroves cover and growing stock inside and outside the forest areas. The information of forest cover for all the States and districts for the current assessment and changes with respect to forest cover of previous assessment has been presented in the report.

Salient findings

  • The total forest and tree cover of the country is 79.42 million hectare which is 24.16 percent of the geographical area of the country. As compared to the assessment of 2013, there is an increase of 3,775 sq km in the forest cover of the country. The majority of the increase in the forest cover has been observed in open forest category mainly outside forest areas, followed by Very Dense Forest.
  • The maximum increase in forest cover has been observed in Tamil Nadu (2501 sq. km.) followed by Kerala (1317 sq. km.) and Jammu & Kashmir (450 sq km). The North-eastern states account for one-fourth of the country's forest cover.
  • Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,462 sq. km. in terms of area in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh with forest cover of 67,248 sq. km and Chhattisgarh – 55,586 sq km.
  • In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to total geographical area, Mizoram with 88.93 percent had the highest forest cover in terms of percentage of forest cover to Geographical area followed by Lakshadweep with 84.56 percent.
  • 15 States/UTs had above 33 percent of the geographical area under forest cover. Out of these States and UTs, seven States/Union Territories – Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Island, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur have more than 75 per cent forest cover while 8 states – Tripura, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam have forest cover is between 33 percent to 75 percent.
  • The total growing stock of India’s forest and trees outside forests is estimated as 5,768 million cum which comprises 4,195 million cum inside the forests and 1573 million cum outside the forests.
  • The total carbon stock in the country’s forest is estimated to be 7, 044 million tones, an increase of 103 million tonnes, which is an increase of 1.48 in percentage terms over the previous assessments. The increase in the carbon stock is in line with the INDC targets. The INDC target for forestry sector envisages creation of additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3.0 billion tonnes of CO

To access the complete report, visit www.fsi.nic.in

  1. Forest: Includes all lands classed as forests under any legal enactment dealing with forests or administered as forests.
  2. Area under Non-agricultural Uses: Includes all lands occupied by buildings, roads and railways or under water, e.g. river, and canals and other lands used for non-agriculture purpose.
  3. Barren and un-cultivable land: Includes all barren and un-cultivable land like mountains, desert etc.
  4. Permanent pastures and other grazing lands: Includes all grazing lands where they are permanent pastures and meadows or not. Village common grazing land is included under this head.
  5. Land under miscellaneous tree crops and groves etc: This includes all cultivable land, which is not included in ‘Net Area Sown’ but is put to some agricultural uses. Lands under Casuarina trees, thatching grasses, bamboo bushes, and other groves for fuel, etc which are not included under ‘Orchards’ are classified under this category.
  6. Culturable Wasteland: This includes lands available for cultivation. Such lands may be either fallow or covered with shrubs or jungles, which are not put to any use. Land once cultivated but not cultivated for five years in succession should be include in this category at the end of the five years.
  7. Fallow lands other than current fallows: This includes all lands, which were taken up for cultivation but are temporarily out of cultivation for a period of not less than one year and not more than five years.
  8. Current Fallows: This represents cropped area, which are kept fallow during the current year. For example, if any seeding area is not cropped in the same year again, it may be treated as current fallows.
  9. Net Area Sown: This represents the total area sown with crops and orchards. Area sown more than once in the same year is counted only once.

Agriculture land/Cultivable land/Culturable land = 5+6+7+8+9

Cultivated Land= 8+9

Reporting area of land utilization= 1 to 9

The main objective of the State of Environment Report of India is to bring out an overview of the environmental scenario of India that serves as a baseline document and assists in logical and information-based decision-making.

The SoE Report aims to provide policy guidelines and strategies for resource allocation for the coming decades, based on analysis of the state and trends of the environment and provide guidance for national environmental action planning.

The State of the Environment Report for India covers the state and trends of the environment (land, air, water, biodiversity) and five key issues viz. Climate Change, Food Security, Water Security, Energy Security and Managing Urbanization.

The report provides an insight on various priority issues for India related to the current status of environment and natural resources, the pressures behind environmental changes and the impacts associated with these changes. The report also assesses the Government's current and proposed policy initiatives or programmes as a response to check and monitor further degradation of environment and also suggests policy options.

Salient points of State of Environment Report 2009

    • About 45 percent of India's land is degraded due to erosion, soil acidity, alkalinity and salinity, water logging and wind erosion. The prime causes of land degradation are deforestation, unsustainable farming, mining and excessive groundwater extraction. However, over two-thirds of the degraded 147 million hectares can be regenerated quite easily. India's forest cover is also gradually increasing (currently about 21%).
    • Air pollution is increasing in all its cities. The level of respirable suspended particulate matter (the small pieces of soot and dust that get inside the lungs) had gone up in all the 50 cities across India. The main causes of urban air pollution were vehicles and factories.
    • India is using 75 percent of the water it can use, and it has "just enough for the future if it is careful. Lack of proper pricing of water for domestic usage, poor sanitation, unregulated extraction of groundwater by industry, discharge of toxic and organic wastewater by factories, inefficient irrigation and overuse of chemical fertilisers and pesticides are the main causes of water problems in the country.
    • While India remains one of the world's 17 "megadiverse" countries in terms of the number of species it houses, 10 percent of its wild flora and fauna are on the threatened list. The main causes for this were habitat destruction, poaching, invasive species, overexploitation, pollution and climate change.
    • About one-third of India's urban population now lives in slums.
    • India contributes only about five percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions that are leading to climate change. However, about 700 million Indians directly face the threat of global warming today, as it affects farming, makes droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe and is raising the sea level.

    Source: Portal Content Team

    1. State of Forest Report 2015
    2. Statistical Year Book India 2017
    3. Compendium of Environment Statistics 2016