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Environment facts

This section explains the facts, figures and issues related to Environment.

Forest Cover in India

Forests are a very crucial natural resource and have always been central in human life. Forests provide renewable raw materials and energy, maintain biological diversity, mitigate climate change, protect land and water resources, provide recreation facilities, improve air quality and help alleviate poverty.

Forest cover indicates all lands, more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10% irrespective of ownership and legal status.

India State of Forest Report 2017

The Forest Survey of India (FSI) has been publishing a series of biennial assessment report of the forest cover in the country since 1987. The India State of Forest Report is recognized as the authoritative assessment of the country’s forest resources.

The India State of Forest Report 2017 is the 15th report in the series. The report is based on interpretation of LISS-III data from Indian Remote Sensing satellite data (Resourcesat-II) with a spatial resolution of 23.5 meters. Satellite data for the entire country was procured from NRSC for the period October, 2015 - February, 2016. The satellite interpretation was followed by extensive and rigorous ground truthing. In addition, periodic ground data collected by field parties and information from other collateral sources were also used to improve the accuracy of the interpreted image.

The India State of Forest Report 2017 contains information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock inside and outside the forest areas, carbon stock in India’s forests and forest cover in different patch size classes. Special thematic information on forest cover such as hill, tribal districts, and north eastern region has also been given separately in the report. The report for the first time contains information on decadal change in water bodies in forest during 2005-2015, forest fire, production of timber from outside forest, state wise carbon stock in different forest types and density classes.

Salient findings

  • Forest and Tree Cover of the country has increased by 8,021 sq km (1 %) as compared to assessment of 2015. The very dense forest has increased by 1.36 % as compared to last assessment. This is very heartening as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Top 5 states where maximum forest cover has increased are Andhra Pradesh (2,141 sq kms), Karnataka (1,101 sq kms), Kerala (1,043 sq kms), Odisha (885 sq kms) and Telangana (565 sq kms).
  • Top 5 states where forest cover has decreased are Mizoram (531 sq km), Nagaland (450 sq km), Arunachal Pradesh (190 sq km), Tripura (164 sq km) and Meghalaya (116 sq km). It is important to mention here that these states are in the North Eastern region of the country where the total forest cover is very high i.e. more than 70% in each state.
  • The present assessment also reveals that 15 states/UT’s have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover. Out of these States and Union Territories, seven States/UTs namely Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur have more than 75 per cent forest cover, while 8 states - Tripura, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam have forest cover between 33 per cent to 75 per cent. About 40% per cent of the country’s forest cover is present in 9 large contiguous patches of the size of 10, 000 sq.km, or more.
  • The total growing stock of India’s forest and trees outside forests is estimated as 5,822.377 million cum, of which 4,218.380 million cum is inside the forests and 1,603.997 million cum outside. There is an increase of 53.990 million cum of total growing stock, as compared to the previous assessment. Out of this the increase in growing stock, there is an increase of 23.333 million cum inside the forest and 30.657 million cum outside the forest area. The total carbon stock in the country’s forest is estimated to be 7,082 million tonnes, which shows an increase of 38 million tonnes, as compared to the previous assessment.
  • The extent of bamboo-bearing area in the country has been estimated at 15.69 million ha. In comparison to the last assessment done in 2011, there has been an increase of 1.73 million ha in bamboo area.  The growing stock of the bamboo in forest has been estimated to be 189 million tonnes. There is an increase of 19 million tonnes in the bamboo-growing stock as compared to the last assessment done in 2011. The total annual potential production of timer from trees outside forest has been estimated at 74.51 million cum.
  • As per the latest assessment, water bodies inside forest cover have increased by 2,647 sq kms during the last decade. Maharashtra (432 sq kms), Gujarat (428 sq kms), Madhya Pradesh (389 sq kms) are top three states showing increase in water bodies within forest areas. Overall, almost all the states have shown a positive change in water bodies.
  • As per ISFR 2017, mangrove forests have in creased by 181 sq kms. Maharashtra (82 sq kms), Andhra Pradesh (37 sq kms) and Gujarat (33 sq kms) are the top three gainers in terms of mangrove cover. 7 out of the 12 mangrove states have shown an increase in mangrove cover and none of them show any negative change.
  • India is striving towards achieving its NDC goal of creating additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3.0 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. As per present assessment total carbon stock in forest is estimated to be 7,082 million tonnes. There is an increase of 38 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment.

To access the complete report, visit www.fsi.nic.in

Land–use classification in India

  1. Forest: Includes all lands classed as forests under any legal enactment dealing with forests or administered as forests.
  2. Area under Non-agricultural Uses: Includes all lands occupied by buildings, roads and railways or under water, e.g. river, and canals and other lands used for non-agriculture purpose.
  3. Barren and un-cultivable land: Includes all barren and un-cultivable land like mountains, desert etc.
  4. Permanent pastures and other grazing lands: Includes all grazing lands where they are permanent pastures and meadows or not. Village common grazing land is included under this head.
  5. Land under miscellaneous tree crops and groves etc: This includes all cultivable land, which is not included in ‘Net Area Sown’ but is put to some agricultural uses. Lands under Casuarina trees, thatching grasses, bamboo bushes, and other groves for fuel, etc which are not included under ‘Orchards’ are classified under this category.
  6. Culturable Wasteland: This includes lands available for cultivation. Such lands may be either fallow or covered with shrubs or jungles, which are not put to any use. Land once cultivated but not cultivated for five years in succession should be include in this category at the end of the five years.
  7. Fallow lands other than current fallows: This includes all lands, which were taken up for cultivation but are temporarily out of cultivation for a period of not less than one year and not more than five years.
  8. Current Fallows: This represents cropped area, which are kept fallow during the current year. For example, if any seeding area is not cropped in the same year again, it may be treated as current fallows.
  9. Net Area Sown: This represents the total area sown with crops and orchards. Area sown more than once in the same year is counted only once.

Agriculture land/Cultivable land/Culturable land = 5+6+7+8+9

Cultivated Land= 8+9

Reporting area of land utilization= 1 to 9

State of Environment Report

The main objective of the State of Environment Report of India is to bring out an overview of the environmental scenario of India that serves as a baseline document and assists in logical and information-based decision-making.

The SoE Report aims to provide policy guidelines and strategies for resource allocation for the coming decades, based on analysis of the state and trends of the environment and provide guidance for national environmental action planning.

The State of the Environment Report for India covers the state and trends of the environment (land, air, water, biodiversity) and five key issues viz. Climate Change, Food Security, Water Security, Energy Security and Managing Urbanization.

The report provides an insight on various priority issues for India related to the current status of environment and natural resources, the pressures behind environmental changes and the impacts associated with these changes. The report also assesses the Government's current and proposed policy initiatives or programmes as a response to check and monitor further degradation of environment and also suggests policy options.

Salient points of State of Environment Report 2009

  • About 45 percent of India's land is degraded due to erosion, soil acidity, alkalinity and salinity, water logging and wind erosion. The prime causes of land degradation are deforestation, unsustainable farming, mining and excessive groundwater extraction. However, over two-thirds of the degraded 147 million hectares can be regenerated quite easily. India's forest cover is also gradually increasing (currently about 21%).
  • Air pollution is increasing in all its cities. The level of respirable suspended particulate matter (the small pieces of soot and dust that get inside the lungs) had gone up in all the 50 cities across India. The main causes of urban air pollution were vehicles and factories.
  • India is using 75 percent of the water it can use, and it has "just enough for the future if it is careful. Lack of proper pricing of water for domestic usage, poor sanitation, unregulated extraction of groundwater by industry, discharge of toxic and organic wastewater by factories, inefficient irrigation and overuse of chemical fertilisers and pesticides are the main causes of water problems in the country.
  • While India remains one of the world's 17 "megadiverse" countries in terms of the number of species it houses, 10 percent of its wild flora and fauna are on the threatened list. The main causes for this were habitat destruction, poaching, invasive species, overexploitation, pollution and climate change.
  • About one-third of India's urban population now lives in slums.
  • India contributes only about five percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions that are leading to climate change. However, about 700 million Indians directly face the threat of global warming today, as it affects farming, makes droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe and is raising the sea level.

All about water


Source: Portal Content Team

Related Resources

  1. State of Forest Report 2015
  2. Statistical Year Book India 2017
  3. Compendium of Environment Statistics 2016
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