By 2050, 64% of India’s forest and tree cover is likely to face ‘high severity’ of climate change
Nearly half of India’s forest and tree cover (315,667 square kilometres, or 45 per cent) can emerge as ‘climate hotspots’ — areas expected to be affected by climate change — the Forest Survey of India (FSI) warned in its latest assessment.
By 2030, 315,667 square kilometres (sq km) or 45 per cent of India’s forest and tree cover are set to emerge as ‘climate hotspots’. Climate hotspot is an area expected to be adversely impacted by climate change, the Forest Survey of India (FSI) said in its latest assessment on forests for 2021 released January 13, 2022.
By 2050, 448,367 sq km or 64 per cent of India’s forest and tree cover is likely to face the ‘high severity’ of climate change, the report titled State of India’s Forests Report, 2021 (SoFR, 2021), said.
High severity means that India’s green cover is expected to see a rise in temperature between the range of 1.5 and 2.1 degrees Celsius. Climate change hotspots will also see a change in rainfall patterns with an increase or decrease of 20-26 per cent, the SoFR, 2021, said.
These projections are based on the collaborative study between FSI and the BITS, Pilani (Goa Campus) to map climate hotspots in the forest areas of the country.
The study made use of the computer model-based projections of temperature and rainfall in three ‘time horizons’ — 2030, 2050 and 2085.
Over 55 per cent of India’s tropical dry deciduous forests, the top most dominant type of forests, will be severely affected by climate change.
Of 313,617 sq km, 172,719 sq km will be highly vulnerable to climate change. These forests occur in the region with very low rainfall of 100-150 centimetres, with five to six dry months.
Thus, 84 per cent of Chhattisgarh’s forest area is most likely to become a climate hotspot. In Madhya Pradesh, 65 per cent of the area under forests will be vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Tropical moist deciduous forests and tropical semi-evergreen forests, the second and third most prominent type of forests too are highly vulnerable. Some 47 per cent and 40 per cent of the tropical moist deciduous forests and tropical semi-evergreen forests respectively will be affected by climate change.
The entire area under the top three dominating forest types covering a total of 520,280 sq km will fall under climate change hotspots from 2050 onwards.
Hence, forests in large parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, the northern part of Odisha and western part of Jharkhand will be impacted by adverse impacts of climate change from 2050 onwards, the biennial forests report said.
|Forest type||Total area (in sq km, in 2019)||Area falling within climate hotspot in 2030 (in %)||Area falling within climate hotspot in 2050 (in %)||Area falling within climate hotspot in 2085 (in %)|
|Tropical wet evergreen forest||20,054||22.18||81.49||98.32|
|Tropical semi-evergreen forest||71,171||40.07||100.00||100.00|
|Tropical moist deciduous forest||135,492||47.19||100.00||100.00|
|Littoral and swamp forest||5,596||9.69||68.05||100.00|
|Tropical dry deciduous forest||313,617||55.07||100.00||100.00|
|Tropical thorn forest||20,877||46.64||76.74||76.76|
|Tropical dry evergreen forest||937||0.64||95.62||95.62|
|Sub-tropical broad leaved hill forest||32,706||15.09||64.56||64.56|
|Sub-tropical pine forest||18,102||93.66||99.76||99.99|
|Sub-tropical dry evergreen forest||180||100.00||100.00||100.00|
|Montane wet temperate forest||20,435||5.08||26.10||26.10|
|Himalayan moist temperate forest||25,743||100.00||100.00||100.00|
|Himalayan dry temperate forest||5,627||100.00||100.00||100.00|
|Moist alpine scrub||959||100.00||100.00||100.00|
|Dry alpine scrub||29,22||100.00||100.00||100.00|
Source: State of India’s Forests Report, 2021
The results of the climate change hotspot study presented for the first time in the report is relevant for state forest departments in designing mitigation and adaptation programmes for forest areas under their management.
“This serves as the baseline for state governments to incorporate climate change in their land and development policies,” Chandra Prakash Goyal, director-general of forests, Union environment ministry, said in his foreword.
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