Amid increased global scrutiny of India’s environment, the country’s forest cover increased by 3,775 square km since 2013, taking the total to 701,673 sq. km, or 70.17 million hectares, equivalent to 21.34 percent of the country’s geographical area, according to the India Forest Report 2015.
In the category of very dense forest, the thickest and oldest of forest patches, an increase of 2,402 sq. km was offset by a shrinking of 3,371 sq. km in moderately dense forest areas, according to the India State of Forest Report 2015 released on December 4. However, there were worrying signs for the northeastern area that accounts for one-fourth of the country’s forest cover.
Published by the Forest Survey of India, the report stated that “there is a net decline of 628 sq. km in forest cover as compared to the previous assessment.” There were similar trends that were observed in the 2013 forest report, which showed the northeastern states and the moderately dense forest areas recorded a decline in cover.
India has only nine contiguous uninterrupted forest patches measuring over 10,000 hectares. India has set a target of creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent in forests in its INDCs for the ongoing COP 21 meeting in Paris.
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