Tree Cutting Vs. Tree Cover Increase in India

Forest Cover and Dense Forest Cover also increased,

Permissions given by MoEF&CC to cut 10975844 trees for developmental activities, F.Y. 2017-18 saw 33.3% more tree felling as compared to F.Y. 2016-17

Fund for compensatory afforestation increased by 66% from 2015-16 to 2018-19

Sunita Mishra

28th July 2019, New Delhi: Forest Survey of India (FRI), Dehradun, an organization under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) carries out the assessment of forest cover of the country biennially and findings are published in India State of Forest Report (ISFR). As per the latest ISFR 2017, the total forest and tree cover in the country is 8,02,088 square kilometre (forest cover 7,08,273 square kilometre, tree cover 93,815 square kilometre) which is 24.39% of the geographical area of the country. There is an increase of 8,021 square kilometre (forest cover 6,778 square kilometre, tree cover 1,243 square kilometre) of total forest and tree cover compared to 1that of ISFR-2015. The total area of dense forests in the country is 406,476 square kilometre. As per the report, there is an increase of 5,104 square kilometre in dense forest cover and 6,778 square kilometre of forest cover of the country compared to the data published in ISFR 2015. The main reason for the increase in forest cover including dense forests can be attributed to plantation and conservation activities both within and outside the Recorded Forest areas.

Shri Babul Supriyo, Hon’ble Minister of State for MoEF&CC informed in the Lok Sabha to various questions and said that the term “Forest cover” is defined in the ISFR as “All lands, more than 1 hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10 per cent irrespective of ownership and legal status. Such lands may not necessarily be a recorded forest area. It also includes orchards, bamboo and palm.” On the line of the definition of forest cover, dense forests are those that have a canopy density of above 40%. The dense forests are further divided into Moderately Dense Forest (canopy density 40% to 70%) and Very Dense Forest (Canopy density >70%).

Nevertheless, trees are felled for various development purposes with the permission of competent authorities in accordance with the procedure laid down in various Acts. Permissions of tree felling of 10975844 number of trees were granted by the Ministry under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 from 2014-15 to 2018-19. MoEF&CC does not maintain data regarding the cutting of trees due to the forest fire. Funds released to 2various States and Union Territories under Compensatory Afforestation Funds stood at Rs. 24,049,000,000/= for the financial year 2017-18 and Rs. 35,235,890,000/= for the financial year 2018-19, which is an increase of 46.5% and nearly 66% more as compared to F.Y. 2015-16.

There is no assessment regarding the requirement of the area of dense forests towards keeping the climate healthy and clean has been made in India. However, forests are necessary to keep the environment and climate of the country clean and healthy. Forests provide various environmental benefits and ecological services. Trees purify the polluted air by absorbing large amount pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide by their leaves and releasing oxygen. Trees produce a healthy environment by providing clean air, water and soil. Trees, especially broad leaves trap aerosols and small particles and act as dust filters. Tree covers absorb rainwater and allow the drained water to percolate into the soil thus maintaining groundwater table and reduces runoff.

The Forest Survey of India estimates carbon stock of forest by using National Forest Inventory data collected during forest inventory and forest cover area following the guidelines given by United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The carbon stock for 2017 has been estimated to be 7083 million tones. There is an increase of 39 million tonnes of carbon stock as compared to the estimates of the previous assessment. The average annual increase in carbon stock is worked out to be around 35 million tones.

This article was published in the 36th Issue of Enviro Annotations

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Author: Enviro Annotations

Environmental Weekly Newspaper

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