India’s Rank in Forest Area Gain

The Economic Survey released by the Department of Economic Affairs recently said that India ranks third in the world in terms of forest gain area. India has added 2,66,000 hectares of forest area every year between 2010 and 2020.

What did the survey say about forest area in India?

24% of the total geographical area of India is covered with forest. The Indian forests accounts to 2% of the forests in the world.

Top countries

According to the survey, the countries with maximum forest are Brazil, Congo, Peru and Russia. 59% of total land mass of Brazil is covered with forest. It is 57% in Peru, 56% in Congo, 50% in Russia. Around ten countries contributed 66% of global forests.

Forest cover in Indian States

Madhya Pradesh had the highest forest cover. The state has 11% of total forest cover in India. It was followed by Arunachal Pradesh. The state has 9% of the country’s total forest cover. Chhattisgarh has   8%, Odisha has 7% and Maharashtra has 7%.

Highest proportion of forest cover

The highest proportion of forest, that is, area covered under forest as compared to the geographical area of the state is as follows:

  • Mizoram: 85%
  • Arunachal Pradesh: 79%
  • Meghalaya: 76%
  • Manipur: 74%
  • Nagaland: 74%

The very dense forest cover in India has increased by 20% between 2011 and 2021. The open forest cover increased by 7%.

Criticisms

The State of Forest Report was made public this year. The environmentalists are questioning the methodology adopted in calculating the forest cover. According to them, the survey includes plantations and orchards outside the forest areas. To this, the union government replied that the definition of “FOREST” in India is in line with the global definitions.

Forest Definition

The Indian Forest Act, 1927 defines forest as land covered with trees, brushwood and jungle. No proper definition for forest exists in the Indian legal system. In 1996, Supreme Court defined forest as that region that is recorded as forest in government record. These two definitions are widely used in the country. It is difficult to frame a definition of forest in India as the country has 16 different types of forests!

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