Monday, November 30, 2009

Country registers growth in forest cover

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New Delhi, December 1, 2009

India has registered a 0.18 per cent growth in forest cover between 2005 and 2007, according to the India State of Forest Report 2009. But the story doesn't end there. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said the country needs to emulate the Chinese model of reforestation to dramatically increase its forest cover.

"Annually, India adds 0.3 million hectares to its forest cover as compared to China, which adds more than 10 times more - four million hectares. In the last decade, India's forest cover has gone up by 3.13 million hectares," Ramesh said while releasing the report.

India will forward a proposal at the forthcoming Copenhagen climate summit asking for a provision for financial incentives to all countries which are involved in reforestation.

The proposal on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation by India pertains to conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks in existing forests. This means countries can enhance their stock by receiving carbon credits.

The Capital has shown a gain of 0.14 sq. km forest cover. Of the nine districts in Delhi, northeast (0.39 sq km added to forest cover) and north Delhi (0.04 sq km added to forest cover) districts have scored the highest owing to new plantations whereas east Delhi has shown a decline because of tree felling by 0.29 sq. km.

The recorded forest area in Delhi is 85 sq. km, of which reserved and protected forests constitute 91.76 per cent and 8.24 per cent of the total forest cover.

There is no change in the status of central, south, west, south-west and New Delhi districts.

The report credits Madhya Pradesh as continuing to remain the state with the largest forest cover of 7.77 million hectares.

But with regard to increase in forest cover, Mizoram (625 sq. km), Manipur (328 sq. km) and Jharkhand (172 sq. km) have shown the largest increase since 2005.

The increase is largely attributed to regrowth in shifting cultivation areas.

The states which have performed poorly on the forest report card are Nagaland, which lost 201 sq. km forest cover, Andhra Pradesh, which lost 129 sq. km forest cover and Arunachal Pradesh, which lost 119 sq. km forest cover.

The report attributes this decline to shifting cultivation, departmental felling of eucalyptus plantations etc.

What's worrisome is that Chhattisgarh has fallen victim to mining and encroachment, leading to a loss of 59 sq km forest cover.

While admitting that Naxalite extremism in certain reserves has taken a toll, Ramesh said, "There is an urgent need to monitor habitats in critical states with mining activities. These include Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh." The report also highlights inter-state variations in forest cover increase.

Jharkhand, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya have gained more than 0.5 per cent forest cover while Haryana, Tripura and Nagaland have lost more than 0.5 per cent forest cover between 2005 and 2007.

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