ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Are We Reforesting Adequately?

Reforestation or afforestation should aim at providing carbon sink and a much-needed biodiversity.


The India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021—released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change—shows an aggregate rise in the total forest area (1,540 square kilometres [sq km] rise in forest cover and 720 sq km of tree cover), although the natural forests have declined by 1,582 sq km. The National Forest Policy, 1988 envisaged 33% of the geographical area under forest and tree cover and two-thirds of the area in hills under forests. However, the recent assessment shows a 902 sq km decline of forest cover in the hill districts of India. The alarming feature of the forest profile is the reduction in forest cover in north-eastern states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Himachal Pradesh owing to anthropogenic factors such as the felling of trees, shifting cultivation, developmental activities, and natural calamities like landslides.

Against the Conference of the Parties (COP26) target—nationally determined contributions—of increasing the additional carbon sink of 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2030, the forest’s carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) should increase. The forests are classified based on the canopy density as, (i) very dense forests (VDF)—3.04%, with tree canopy density of over 70%, (ii) moderately dense forests (MDF)—9.33%, which are also called the “natural forests,” with tree canopy density of 40%–70%, and (iii) open forests—9.34%, with tree canopy density of 10%–40%. The per hectare carbon sink provided by VDF is the highest in the tropical and subtropical climate across India, implying that each hectare of VDF has the largest carbon stock owing to its larger canopy. The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 published by the Food and Agriculture Organization finds that India ranks 10th in the forest area globally. The average annual net gain in forest area in India was 0.38% over the 2010–20 period, which is third in the global rank.

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Updated On : 29th Jan, 2022
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