Forest Cover in India- Main Points

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • A Forest Cover may or may not be a part of recorded Forest Area.
  • 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.
  • The Lands with forest cover having a canopy density of 70% and more are called Very Dense Forests.


Forest Cover : Main Points

Forest Survey of India has been bringing out ‘State of Forest Reports’ since 1987 based on interpretation of satellite images. The 11th report was released in 2009.

  • Forest cover mapping in this report was done by digital interpretation of satellite images of LISS III sensor of Resourcesat-1.
  • The scale used in these images is 1:50,000 and the minimum mappable area is 1 ha.
  • India’s forest cover in 2007 is 69.09 million ha which is 21.02% of the geographical area.
  • Of this, 8.35 million ha (2.54%) is very dense forest, 31.90 million ha (9.71%) is moderately dense forest, and the rest 28.84 million ha (8.77%) is open forest.
  • The 28.84 million ha open forests also includes 0.46 million ha mangroves.
  • Comparing to the 2005 data, there is a net gain of 728 km2 during the period.

Largest Forest Cover

  • Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover (7.77 million ha) amongst states/UTs constituting 11.25% of the country’s forest cover followed by Arunachal Pradesh (9.75%), Chhattisgarh (8.09%), Maharashtra (7.33%) and Orissa (7.07%).

Forest Cover in North East India

  • The Seven North-East States together account for about one fourth of the total forest covers of the country.
  • The North-East region of the country comprising seven States namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland & Tripura is only 7.76% of the geographic area of the country, but accounts for nearly one fourth of its forest cover. The total forest cover in the region is 170,423 km2, which is 66.81% of the geographic area as against the national average of 21.02%. Compared with the previous assessment, there is a net gain of 598 km2.

Forest cover in hill districts

  • The Hill District in India is defined as per the criteria of Hill Taluka by the Planning Commission. In India, a Hill District is one with altitude over five hundred metre from the mean sea level and with over half its area under hill talukas. In India the number of Hill districts in India is 124. The total forest cover in these 124 Hill Districts was 281,841 km2, which is 39.82% of the total geographic area of these districts.

Forest Cover in Tribal Districts:

  • The Tribal Districts are identified in India by the Integrated Tribal Development Programme. The number of identified Tribal districts is 188 and the total forest cover in these districts was 412,625 km2, which is 37.32% of the total geographic area of these districts.

India’s Mangrove Cover

  • Mangroves are evergreen, broad leaved trees having aerial roots like pneumatophores or stilt roots and viviparous germinated seedlings found mainly in tropical and subtropical inter-tidal regions of the world. India India the Mangroves cover is 4,639 km2. From the previous estimates, this figure shows the net increase of 58 km2 over the previous assessment figures. West Bengal has nearly half of the country’s mangroves.

Highest Tree Cover:

Tree cover constitutes the largest area in Maharashtra (9,466 km2) followed by Gujarat (8,390 km2), Rajasthan (8,274 km2) and Uttar Pradesh (7,381 km2).

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