The Union Environment Ministry releases the State of Forest Report (2021) every two years. The last report was released in 2019. The 2021 report is the 17th report in the series that began in 1987.
Broadly speaking, in the latest report, the development status of forests has been described as positive. Between 2019 and 2021, the forest area in the country increased by 1,540 square kilometers. With this, the area of forests in the country has increased to 7,13,789 square kilometers.
This is 21.71 percent of the total geographical area of the country, which is just a small increase as compared to the percentage of 2019 (21.67 percent). The area of trees has increased by 721 square kilometers.
the question of dense forests
The mangroves found in salt water have increased by 17 percent and are now spread over 4,992 square kilometers. The states with the highest increase in forest cover include Telangana (3.07%), Andhra Pradesh (2.22%) and Odisha (1.04%).
The area of forests has reduced in 11 states. There has been a lot of damage to forests in the Northeast and forests have been reduced significantly in five states. These include Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.
But a closer look at the report shows that the increase in the area of forests is not coming in dense but in less dense forests. Dense forests are continuously decreasing, which is a matter of concern.
At present, the share of dense forests in the total area of forests is only 3.04 percent, while the highest share (9.34 percent) is of open forests.
In the last two years, the “very dense forest” category has increased by only 501 square kilometers, while the open forest has increased by 2,612 square kilometers. In the “normal dense forest” category, 1,582 square kilometers of forest have been destroyed. Experts say that this shows that the natural forests in the country are changing into open forests, which means the occurrence of forests as a whole.
Destruction of dense forests happening in India