About the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021: Counting trees properly

News: The India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021 has been released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

What is the Indian state of Forest Report 2021?

ISFR 2021 shows an increase of 154 0 km² of Forest area.  They also contain data on growing stocks, carbon stock, forest cover etc. The assessment is done using satellites along with ground-truthing. Since 2001, high resolution satellite data and digital interpretation have been used.

Read here: India State of Forest Report 2021 – Explained, pointwise
What does the data signify about the health of the forests?

Forest Cover: ISFR 2021 recorded a total forest cover of 21.71% of the country’s geographical area. While ISFR 2001 recorded the total forest cover as 19.5% of the geographical area.

In the last 20 years, India’s forest cover has increased by 38,251sq km. But, during this period, dense forests have reduced by 10,140 sq km, and open forests have increased by 48,391 sq km. So, while the total forest cover has grown, they have increased mainly in the degraded forest category; good quality forests have reduced.

Recorded Forest Area: It includes only those areas recorded as forests in government records. RFA in the country is 23. 58% of the country’s geographical area.

In the last 10 years, forest cover inside RFA has reduced by 14,071 sq km, while it has increased by 35,779 sq km outside. So, forest cover is expanding on private land (mainly as plantation) and decreasing in forests managed by the government.

The volume of all trees: Growing stocks in forests have reduced from 4,781.4 million cubic metres (cu-m) in 2003 to 4,388.15 million cu-m in 2021. This is a decline of 8% in the last two decades, which indicates a significant degradation of the forest.

What does the comparison show?

It shows that the health of our forests has declined significantly in the last two decades. The increase in forest cover shown in subsequent ISFRs is mainly due to the growth in plantations on private land. Forest areas, on the other hand, have lost large tracts of rich biodiverse forests and have experienced significant degradation.

What is the way forward?

There is a need to adopt a new approach in which forest-dependent communities will have a significant role in forest management, with the forest department as a facilitator and enabler.

Source: This post is based on the article “Counting trees properly’ published in the Times of India on 21st January 2022.

Print Friendly and PDF