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31st January 2023 (8 Topics)

Forest Cover in India Context


India is lagging behind in the targets to increase the number and quality of tree- and forest-cover plantations set in the Green India Mission, according to data accessed via the Right To Information Act.

The numbers

  • From 2015-16 to 2021-22, the Centre - based on submissions from 17 States - had approved a target of increasing tree/forest cover by 53,377 hectares and improving the quality of degraded forest by 1,66,656 ha. 
  • As per the Environment Ministry tree/forest cover had increased by 26,287 hectares and forest quality improved in only 1,02,096 hectares as of December 31, 2022.
  • For executing these projects, the Centre had allocated ?681 crore but only ?525 crore had been utilised.
  • States with significant shortfall in tree cover include 
    • Andhra Pradesh, with a target of 186 ha but having only achieved 75 ha
    • Uttarakhand with a target of 6,446 ha but only 1,505 ha achieved
    • Madhya Pradesh targeting 5,858 ha but delivering 1,882 ha
    • Kerala committing 1,686 ha but furnishing 616 ha
    • Punjab, unusually committed to 629 ha but having delivered 1,082 ha

 India State of Forest Report-2021

  • As per the Report, forest and tree cover in the country increased by 2,261 square kilometre since the last assessment in 2019. 
  • India’s total forest and tree cover was 80.9 million hectares, which accounted for 24.62% of the geographical area of the country. 
  • 17 States and Union Territories had more than 33% of their area under forest cover. 
    • Madhya Pradesh had the largest forest cover, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. 
  • The top five States in terms of forest cover as a percentage of their total geographical area were 
    • Mizoram (84.53%)
    • Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%)
    • Meghalaya (76%)
    • Manipur (74.34%)
    • Nagaland (73.90%)

India’s Target to increase forest cover

  • National Mission for a Green India (GIM) is one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. 
  • It aims at protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s forest cover and responding to climate change. 
  • The target under the Mission is 10 million hectares (Mha) on forest and non-forest lands for increasing the forest/tree cover and to improve the quality of existing forest.

Need to improve tree cover

  • Improving tree cover is critical to sequester carbon and bolster India’s carbon stocks as part of its international commitments to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

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