Saturday, 11 May 2013

Forest Cover in India: An Analysis


Forest Cover is defined as “All lands more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10 % irrespective of ownership and legal status. Such lands may not necessarily be a recorded forest area. It also includes orchards bamboo and palm.”
Data Source: http://www.data.gov.in      |    Graphics: http://www.indianbotanists.com
From the above graphics it is seen that there is an increase of 0.03% of forest cover in 2011 as compared to year 2009. Compared to 2001, forest cover in the country in a decade has increased by 0.5%. Can this growth be ascribed towards the reduction of deforestation or increase in growth of afforestation? While another argument is that improvement in scientific equipment probably the sattelite, to measure the forest cover has resulted in enhanced data. There has been dispute in past too with regard to data and definition of forest cover. In 2010 forest scientists, Jean-Philippe Puyravaud and  Priya Davida from School of Life Sciences, Pondicherry University, Pondicherry, India along with Australian forest scientist William F. Laurance from School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland published their research paper in volume 3 of  'Conservation Letters' thereby contradicting the data published by Govt. agency Forest Survey of India (FSI). They highlighted a paucity of data on native forest cover in India and underlined it as a serious problem that requires urgent attention. It was recommended by them to use sufficiently high-resolution imagery and adequate safeguards, to avoid misleading picture of the fate of the world's native forests. The last assessment of forest cover published in the State of Forest Report 2011 was carried out by interpretation of satellite data of the remote sensing technology using IRS Resourcesat -1 P6 LISS -III sensor data. The pixel size of 23.5mX23.5m of the satellite data through LISS-III and available topographical map scale of 1:50,000 is considered as optimum for forest cover mapping.

FSI, Based on the tree canopy density forest cover can be classified into following four categories:  1. Very Dense Forests - All lands with tree canopy density of 70% and above. 2. Moderately Dense Forests - All lands with tree canopy density between 40% and 70% 3. Open Dense Forests - All lands with tree canopy density between 10% -40%  4. Scrubs - Degraded Forest lands with canopy density less than 10% is termed as scrubs.
Data Source: http://www.data.gov.in      |    Graphics: http://www.indianbotanists.com
There is a decrease of 39 Square Kilometre in the dense cover forest from 2009 to 2011. To address this issue i.e., to increase the forest cover of dense forest data at state level will be significant. Policy to mitigate the same requires urgent attention. The National Forest Commission recommended in March 2006 that each State should have its own Forest Policy for sustainable management of the forest and wildlife resources of the State. The policy was to address issues pertaining to conserving the remaining natural forests, increasing sustainability of forest/tree cover through massive afforestation and social forestry programmes and creation of people’s movements for the objectives etc. Still few states have not finalised their working plans to policy.

Shortly we may publish the analysis of forest cover of different states of India which will help us to understand the shift in forest cover types more precisely. Forest play important role in environment and economy. Any shift in forest cover and its subsequent impact will help in adaptation planning of the communities dependent on the forest ecosystems. It is important to note that around 2,00,000 villages in India are classified as forest villages and needless to emphasise that there is a large dependence of communities on forest resources.

No comments:

Post a comment

Your Comments.