India State of Forest Report, 2021

The latest edition of India’s State of Forest Report 2021, has been published by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). The report contains comprehensive statistics regarding the forests and trees that are present within the Indian territory. This report contains data for individual states, zones, and national level. The first such report was published in the year of 1987, and ISFR 2021 is the 17th edition.

The topic has a high chance of being asked as Geography Questions and/or as Environment Questions in IAS Prelims.

Table of Contents:

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About India’s State of Forest Report 2021

State of Forests Report of India is prepared by Forest Survey of India (FSI) after the countrywide comprehensive research, data collection, and compilation. However, the report is not published by FSI but rather by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC). It is published after every two years and the 2021 report is preceded by the 2019 report. 

Note: Visit the attached link to read more about Natural Vegetation in India and Forest Types.

Key Features of India State of Forest Report, 2021

  • The report is based upon the survey of three types of forests namely,
    • Very Dense Forests (having canopy density more than 70%)
    • Moderately Dense Forests (having canopy density between 40% and 70%)
    • Open Forests (having canopy density between 10% and 40%)
  • Where canopy density is less than 10%, the region is categorised as “scrubs” instead of “forests”, yet the area is still surveyed.

New Features of India State of Forest Report, 2021

  • The report and the survey for the first time ever have included Gir Forest (only habitat of Asiatic Lions), Tiger Reserves, and Tiger Corridors.
  • Of the total 32 tiger reserves, forest cover has shown a decadal increase in 20 of them, while the rest of the 10 has shown decreased forest cover.
  • Forest cover in tiger corridors has increased slightly but in the case of tiger reserves a slight decrease in forest cover is registered.
  • Following tiger reserves have experienced gain in forest cover:
    • Buxa Tiger Reserve (West Bengal)
    • Indravati Tiger Reserve (Chhattisgarh)
    • Anamalai Tiger Reserve (Tamil Nadu)
  • Following tiger reserves have experienced loss in forest cover:
    • Kawal Tiger Reserve (Telangana)
    • Bhadra Tiger Reserve (Karnataka)
    • Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (West Bengal)
  • As for the percentage of total forest cover to area, the Pakke Tiger Reserve of Arunachal Pradesh has shown the best record with as much as 97% forest cover.

Note: Visit the attached link to read more about Tiger Conservation in India.

Increase in Forest Cover/Tree Cover

  • Total forest cover in India has increased by 0.4% from 21.67% to 21.71%, indicating a continued gain in greenery in India.
  • Tree cover in India is recorded to have grown by 721 sq km.
  • Following three states are best performers in terms of increasing forest cover:
  1. Telangana (3.07%)
  2. Andhra Pradesh (2.22%)
  3. Odisha (1.04%)
  • Area wise States with Highest Forest Cover/Area:
    • Madhya Pradesh continues to have the highest area under forest cover in India and is preceded by other states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Maharashtra.
  • Percentage of Area wise States with Highest Forest Cover/Area:
    • Mizoram leads this category and is preceded by other states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, and Nagaland.
  • Mangrove forests in India have shown an overall increase of 17 sq. km.
  • Bamboo forests in India have also registered a growth of approximately 26% from 2019 to 2021.
  • Area under “Very Dense Forests” has shown an increase of approximately 500 sq. kms.

Forest Cover V/s Forest Area

Any forested region which represents a legal status of the land in the Government Records is called Forest Area, whereas the term Forest Cover can be any non-government recognised land having forests in it.

Fact: A tree cover is defined as a region of size smaller than one hectare which is found outside the recorded forest area, this region contains trees of varying size and canopy sizes and are scattered everywhere.

Decrease in Forest Cover/Tree Cover

Following states from the northeast zone of India have experienced loss in forest cover:

  1. Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Manipur
  3. Meghalaya
  4. Mizoram
  5. Nagaland

Reduction in Natural Forests

  • The State of Forest Report 2021 of India has registered a reduction in area of “Moderately Dense Forests” which are also called as “Natural Forests”. The trend is accompanied by a huge increase in area under “Open Forests” indicating forest degradation in India. It is also worth noting that “Scrub Area” has also shown significant increase which possibly means complete degradation of Forests.
  • Forest cover in the northeast Indian states has shown an overall decrease of approximately 1000 sq. kms.The reasons attributed to this are believed to be natural calamities such as, heavy rains, landslides, floods etc. as well as increased human activities like shifting agriculture and new infrastructure projects leading to cutting down of trees on a large scale.
    • It is worth noting that around 8% of total Indian territory is represented by these 7 sisters yet they represent approximately 24% of total forest cover of India.

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Related Links:

United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) International Day for Biological Diversity [May 22]
Royal Bengal Tiger -10 Interesting Facts About Indian National Animal National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
Difference Between Wildlife Sanctuary, Biosphere Reserves and National Park Tiger Census Report – Tiger Population in India
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India List of National Parks in India

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