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Environment facts

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 land use, ownership and species of trees.

India State of Forest Report 2019

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 2019 is the 16th 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 - December, 2017. 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 2019 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. FSI, in a first ever attempt has carried out a rapid assessment of biodiversity for all the States and UTs (except two) and for all the sixteen Forest Type Groups as per Champion & Seth Classification (1968). The present report also gives information on the fire prone forest areas of different severity classes, mapped in the grids of 5km x 5km based on the frequency of forest fires in the last 14 years that would enable the SFDs to manage and control forest fires effectively in the respective States.

Salient findings

  • Forest Cover of the country is 7,12,249 sq km (1 %) which is 21.67 % of the geographical area of the country. The tree cover is estimated to be 95,027 sq.km which is 2.89 % of the geographical area of the country. The total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.73 million hectare which is 24.56 percent of the geographical area of the country.
  • Area-wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. In terms of forest cover as percentage of total geographical area, the top five States are Mizoram (85.41%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%), Meghalaya (76.33%), Manipur (75.46%) and Nagaland (75.31%).
  • As compared to the assessment of 2017, there is an increase of 5,188 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover of the country ie. 0.65%. Out of this, the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 3,976 sq km (0.56%) and that in tree cover is 1,212 sq. km (1.29 %) .
  • Top 5 states where maximum forest cover has increased are Karnataka (1,025 sq kms), Andhra Pradesh (990 sq kms), , Kerala (823 sq kms), Jammu and Kashmir (371 sq kms) and Himachal Pradesh (334 sq kms).
  • Forest cover in the 140 hilly districts of the country is 2,84,006 sq.kms which is 40.30 % of the total geographical area of these districts.
  • Total forest cover in the NER is 1,70,541 sq.kms which is 65.05 % of the total geographical area of the region. Except Assam and Tripura, all states show a decrease in the forest cover.
  • The total mangrove cover in the country is 4,975 sq km. An increase of 54 sq Km in mangrove cover has been observed as compared to the previous assessment of 2017. Top three states showing mangrove cover increase are Gujarat (37 sq km) followed by Maharashtra (16 sq km) and Odisha (8 sq km).
  • The total growing stock of India’s forest and TOF is estimated 5,915.76 million cum of which 4,273.47 million cum is inside the forests and 1,642.29 million cum outside. There is an increase of 93.38 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 55.08 million cum inside the forests and 38.30 million cum outside the forest areas.
  • The extent of bamboo bearing area of the country has been estimated 16.00 million hectare. There is an increase of 0.32 million hectare in bamboo bearing area as compared to the last assessment of ISFR 2017. The total estimated green weight of bamboo culms is 278 million tonnes, slowly an increase of 88 million tonnes as compared to ISFR 2017.
  • Under the current assessment the total carbon stock in country’s forest is estimated 7,124.6 million tonnes and there an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment of 2017. The annual increase in the carbon stock is 21.3 million tonnes, which is 78.2 million tonnes CO2 eq.
  • Soil organic carbon represents the largest pool of carbon stock in the forests, which is estimated at 4,004 million tonnes. 
  • Wetlands within forest areas form important ecosystems and add richness to the biodiversity in forest areas, both of faunal and floral species. Due to importance of wetlands, FSI has carried out an exercise at the national level to identify wetlands of more than 1 ha within RFA. There are 62,466 wetlands covering 3.8% of the area within the RFA/GW of the country.
  • The present report also gives information on the fire prone forest areas of different severity classes, mapped in the grids of 5km x 5km based on the frequency of forest fires in the last 14 years that would enable the SFDs to manage and control forest fires effectively in the respective States.
  • Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) are important source of livelihood for many tribal communities and villagers living in the proximity of forests. A new information has been generated from the national forest inventory data about the top five NTFP species in each State & UT in terms of their availability in forests i.e. relative occurrence.
  • Invasive species pose serious threat to the sustainable management of forests. Analysis of NFI data has been done for determining five major invasive species in each State & UT and also an estimate of area affected by them.

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.

Related Resources

  1. State of Forest Report 2019
  2. Statistical Year Book India 2018
  3. Compendium of Environment Statistics 2019


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