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Marginal increase in India’s forest cover   -   9th Dec 2009

The exercise, undertaken by the Forest Survey of India, is based on satellite imagery and ground observations. It shows that from 1997 to 2007, India’s forest cover had grown by 3.13 million hectares, a rise of 4.75%.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh pointed out that while India’s forest cover had shown an average increase of 0.3 million hectares per year in the past one decade, countries like Brazil and Indonesia had seen their forests reduce at the rate of about 2.5 million hectares per year in the same period.
India, Brazil and Indonesia have all been pushing for monetary support that is available for countries which reduce their deforestation, as forests act as global carbon sinks. According to a recent study, India’s forests absorb about 11% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the report also indicates that much of the gain in forest cover has been of open forests - around 1,626 sq km - and very little of dense forest, a mere 38 sq km. On the other hand, the loss in moderately dense forest has been a significantly high 936 sq km.

Sixteen states have lost forest cover between 2005 and 2007, the report said, listing the greatest losses in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, and Nagaland. It said mining in Chhattisgarh, encroachment in insurgency-affected areas in Assam and Chhattisgarh, and shifting cultivation in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland were among factors that had caused the forest area to shrink.

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