State of Forests Report 2015

State of Forests Report is published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) on a biennial basis since 1987. Forest cover of the country is mapped through indigenous RESOURCESAT -2 satellite data with a LISS III sensor.

Key Definitions

Canopy and Canopy Density

The cover of branches and Foliage formed by the crown of trees is called Canopy.  The percentage area of land covered by the canopy of trees is called Canopy density.

Forest Cover

All lands which are more than 1 hectare in area and with a Canopy density of more than 10% irrespective of the ownership and legal status is called Forest Cover. Also it does not make any distinction whether the forest is natural or manmade forest, government or private, recorded or not recorded. It includes bamboo, orchards, palm etc.

Recorded Forest Area and Forest Blank

The area recorded as “forests” in the Government records is called Forest Area or Recorded Forest Area. The patches within the forest area which have little or no trees are called “Forest Blank”. The recorded Forest Area denotes the legal status of the land. It is defined as the geographic area recorded as forest in government records, state law or any local law. It is different from the forest cover as forest area may include areas with less than 10% of tree canopy density and may exclude areas more than 10% of tree canopy density.

E-Watch

It is a web based GIS application developed for monitoring various activities funded under CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) CAMPA is meant to promote afforestation activities in order to compensate for forest land diverted to non-forest uses).

Carbon Stock

It is defined as the amount of carbon stored in the ecosystem of the forest especially in living biomass and soil.

Best Season to get Satellite Data of Forests

October – December is the best season. The reflectance from the forests is dependent on the crown foliage and its chlorophyll content. Due to seasonal variability of the tree phenology over the year, season of satellite data acquisition is of utmost importance for forest cover assessment.

Deciduous forests allow more reflectance from the ground surface during leafless period thus making their own detection and classification difficult. Hence, data of the spring-summer season is not suitable for interpretation of such forest types. During rainy season, the situation is compounded due to non availability of cloud-free data and mixing of agricultural and other green covers with forest cover due to similarity in their spectral reflectance. Taking these limitations into consideration, satellite data of the period October to December is considered to be the most suitable for forest cover mapping of the entire country. However, in cases where cloud free data is not available for this period, data of January to March is procured.

Types of Forest Covers

The degraded forest lands which have a Canopy density of less than 10% are called Scrubs. The Lands with Canopy density of 10-40% are called Open Forests. The Land with forest cover having a canopy density of 40-70% is called the Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) The Lands with forest cover having a canopy density of 70% and more are called Very Dense Forests (VDF).

State of Forests Report 2015: Key Findings

  • Total forest cover in India: 7,01,673 sq km (increase of 3775 sqkm)
  • Total forest cover as percentage of geographical area: 21.34 per cent
  • Total tree cover in India: 92,572 sq km (increase of 1306 sq km)
  • Total tree cover as percentage of geographical area : 2.82 per cent
  • State with largest total forest cover: Madhya Pradesh having 77, 462 sq km
  • State having highest forest cover as % of its area: Mizoram (88.93 per cent)
  • Increase in carbon sink:103 million tonnes CO2 equivalent
Top five states with maximum forest cover

India’s top five states with maximum forest cover (in km²) are as follows:

  1. Madhya Pradesh (77,462)
  2. Arunachal Pradesh (67,248)
  3. Chhattisgarh (55,586)
  4. Maharashtra (50,628)
  5. Orissa (50,354)
Top five states with maximum forest cover as part of their area

Top five states / UTs with maximum forest cover as percentage of their own geographical area are as follows:

  1. Mizoram (88.93%)
  2. Lakshadweep (84.56%)
  3. A&N islands (81.84%)
  4. Arunachal Pradesh (80.30%)
  5. Nagaland (78.21%)

Forest Cover in Altitude Zones

Important Observations
  • Out of the total forest cover, the maximum share is of Moderate Dense Forests, followed by Open Forests. The very dense forests in India are in just around 2.5% of total geographical area of the country.
  • Among all the states of India the states which have shown considerable improvement in their forest cover are: Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka.
  • The states where forest cover has decreased substantially are Mizoram ,Telangana, Uttarakhand, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The total forest cover in the hill districts of the country is 283,015 sq km which is 39.99 % of total geographic area of these districts. In the latest report the hill districts have recorded a net increase of 1680 sq km area.
  • North east constitutes only 7.98% of geographical area of the country but it occupies one fourth of the forest cover. However according to the current report there is a decrease in the forest cover in the north east by 628 sq km which is primarily because of shifting cultivation and increase in biotic pressure.
Mangroves Cover

In world’s total mangrove vegetation, India’s share stands at 3%. Currently Mangrove cover in India is 4740 km² which is 0.14 % of the country’s geographical area. Sundarbans in West Bengal accounts for almost half of the total area. As compared to 2013 there is a net increase of 112 sq km in the mangrove cover. Top five states with maximum Mangrove cover are as follows:

  1. West Bengal (2106)
  2. Gujarat (1107)
  3. Andaman & Nicobar Island (617)
  4. Andhra Pradesh (367)
  5. Odisha (231)

Mangroves are also found in Tamil Nadu, Goa, Kerala, Daman & Diu, Karnataka and Puducherry.

Total Carbon Stock

The total carbon stock has also increased by 103 million tonnes or an increase of 1.48 in percentage terms compared to previous assessments. The total carbon stock in the country’s forest is around 7, 044 million tonnes. The increase in the carbon stock shows the commitment of the country towards achieving INDC target of additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3.0 billion tonnes of CO2.

Last Updated: January 11, 2016

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