Explain the land use pattern in India and why has the land under forest not increased much since 1960-61?

Land is a natural resource of utmost importance. We live on land, we use it in different ways, we perform our economic activities on land.

  • The use of land is determined both by human factors such as culture and traditions, technological capability, population density, and by physical factors such as soil types, climate, topography etc.

Land resources are used for the following purposes: 

  • Net sown area – Area sown more than once in an agricultural year plus net sown area is known as gross cropped area.
  • Fallow lands – Other than current fallow-(in the past one to five agricultural years, there was no cultivation), Current fallow – (there was no cultivation for one or less than one agricultural year).
  • Forests 
  • Land not available for cultivation – Land which is used for purposes apart from agriculture, e.g. factories, roads, buildings, barren and waste land. 
  • Omitting land which is fallow, other uncultivated land which includes Culturable waste land (where there is no agricultural cultivation for more than 5 years), Land under miscellaneous tree crops, groves (not included in net sown area), Permanent pastures and grazing land.

Total geographical area of India is 3.28 million sq km

  • Land use data, however, is available only for 93 per cent of the total geographical area because the land data for Jammu and Kashmir region under the occupation of China and Pakistan is not accounted for and land use reporting for most of the north-east states except Assam has not been done fully.
  • Mountains provide facilities for tourism and ecological aspects and mountain regions of India account for 30 per cent of the total surface area of the country.
  • The pattern of net sown area varies greatly from one state to another. less than 10 per cent in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Andaman Nicobar Islands and it is over 80 per cent of the total area in Punjab and Haryana.
  • About 27 per cent of the area of the country is the plateau region. It possesses rich reserves of forests, fossil fuels, minerals.
  • About 43 per cent of the land area is plain, which provides facilities for agriculture and industry.
  • The livelihood of millions of people who live on the fringes of these forests depends upon forest areas. It was considered essential for maintenance of the ecological balance. 
  • As outlined in the National Forest Policy (1952), forest area in the country is far lower than the desired 33 percent of geographical area.

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