Manipur recorded the largest loss in forest cover
The northeastern states of India — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim — have lost 1,020 square kilometres of forest during 2019-2021, according to the biennial India’s State of Forest Report 2021 published by the Forest Survey of India.
The eight states account for 23.75 per cent of the country’s total forest cover. The Forest Survey of India defines “forest cover” as all land of one hectare or more of tree patches with canopy density of more than 10 per cent.
This covers all land irrespective of legal ownership and land use. While “recorded forest area” includes only those areas recorded as forests in government records as well as the pristine forests.
Among the eight states, Manipur recorded the largest loss in forest cover (249 sq kms), followed by Nagaland (235 sq kms) and Mizoram (186 sq kms). The report attributes this loss in forest cover to shifting cultivation, which is practiced in many northeastern states.
The northeastern states have been losing forest cover consistently, as the last report published in 2019 also indicated. Between 2011 and 2019, forest cover of six states, excluding Assam, had decreased by nearly 18 per cent between 2011 and 2019. The region lost nearly 25,012 sq km of forest cover in the preceding decade.
Overall, India has recorded an increase of 1,540 sq kms in its forest cover, according to the India’s State of Forest Report 2021. India’s total forest cover is 713,789 sq km or 21.71 per cent of the total geographical area of the country. India has set a target of bringing 33 per cent of its geographical area under forest cover.
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