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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

India maps forest cover & commits over US$500m to regenerate degraded areas

The Indian Government has been implementing a number of schemes and programmes to provide support, mainly to the States and Union Territories, for regeneration of degraded forests through people’s participation. In pursuance of the National Forest Policy 1988, the Ministry of Environment and Firsts has adopted Joint Forest Management (JFM) as the main strategy for regeneration of degraded forests. As on 31.3.2006, there were 106482 Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) covering an area of 22.02 million hectares.

The Ministry is also supporting the JFM porgramme by implementing the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) scheme through Forest Development Agencies (FDAs) at the forest division level and JFMCs at the village level to regenerate degraded forests and adjoining areas. As on 15.2.2008, the Ministry has approved 753 FDA projects to treat 1.34 million hectares through 26772 JFMCs at a total cost of Rs.2063.8 crores (US$515.6m), out of which Rs. 1461.10 cores have been released till that date.

The government has also published its ‘State of Forest Report 2005’ (‘SFR 2005’), the result of two decades of biennial forest cover mapping using remote sensing.

· Forest cover mapping has been done by digital interpretation of satellite images of LISS III sensor of satellite Resourcesat-I. The scale is 1:50,000 and the minimum mappable area is 1 ha.

· Forest cover has been depicted in three density classes: very dense forest (tree canopy density over 70%), moderately dense forest (40% to 70%), and open forest

· (10% to 40%).

· Due to advance features of the satellite Resouresat-I (LISS-III), slight improvement has been done in the forest cover data of ‘SFR 2003’. The original and revised figures of 2001 and 2003 have been presented in Chapter 1 of ‘SFR 2005’.

· The country’s forest cover is 67.71 million ha (20.60% of geog. Area).

· Of this, 5.46 million ha (1.66%) is VDF, 33.26 million ha (10.12%) is MDF, and the rest 28.99 million ha (8.82%) is OF including 0.45 million ha mangroves.

· Excluding the areas (18.16 million ha) not available for tree planting/afforestation due to climate, edaphic and physical reasons falling in mountainous region under permanent snow , glaciers/rocks; the forest cover of the country comes to 21.81%.

· MP has the largest area of 7.6 million ha under forest cover (11.22% of the country) followed by Arunachal Pradesh (10.01%), Chhattisgarh (8.25%), Orissa (7.15%), and Maharashtra (7.01%).

· The seven North-East States together account for 25.11% of the total forests of the country.

· In the 124 hill districts of the country the forest cover is 38.85% (52.4% by excluding area unavailable for planning).

· In the 188 tribal districts of the country the forest cover is 36.81% of geog. Area which is 60.11% of the total forest cover the country.

· The mangrove cover in the country is 4,445 km². Of this, 1.147 km² (25.8%) is very dense, 1,629 km² (36.6%) is moderately dense, and the rest 1,669 km² (37.6%) is open.

· West Bengal has the maximum mangrove cover (47.65%) of the country’s total.

· A comparison of the forest covers of the country between the present and preceding assessment (2003) shows that there is marginal loss of 728 km² during the period 2002-2004. This constitutes 0.11% of the forest cover of the country.

· The total tree cover of the country has been assessed as 91,663 (2.79% of geog. Area).

· The total forest and tree cover of the country has been assessed as 768,751 km² (23.4% of geog. Area and 24.76% excluding area unavailable for planting).

· The total growing stock of wood in the country is 6.22 billion m³.

· The estimate of growing stock of the forest is 4.6 billion m³. The growing stock of TOF has been estimated to be 1.61 billion m³. The average growing stock is 80.9 m³ per ha in 76.88 million ha of forest & tree cover

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