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Biodiversity & Environment

Decline in Global Tropical Primary Forests: Global Forest Watch

  • 12 Jul 2023
  • 6 min read

Source: TH

Why in News?

The latest report from World Resources Institute's (WRI) Global Forest Watch has revealed a staggering loss of tropical primary forests in 2022, amounting to 4.1 million hectares. This loss is equivalent to losing an area of 11 football fields per minute.

  • The report emphasizes the significance of primary forests in the tropics, where over 96% of deforestation occurs, urging global attention to the issue.
  • WRI is a global nonprofit organization that works with leaders in government, business and civil society to research, design, and carry out practical solutions that simultaneously improve people’s lives and ensure nature can thrive.

What are Primary Forests?

  • Primary forests are characterized by their dense coverage of native tree species, minimal human interference, and undisturbed ecological processes.
  • They store more carbon and support greater biodiversity compared to other forest types. Therefore, their loss is nearly irreversible, as secondary forests cannot match their biodiversity and carbon sequestration capabilities.

What are the Major Findings of the Report?

  • Forest-Related Commitments and Progress:
    • The current rate of forest loss indicates a failure to restore forests adequately. The world is not on track to meet forest-related commitments, including the goal to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 (COP26 Glasgow 2021).
      • Restoring 350 million hectares (Mha) of lost and degraded forests by 2030 is another key global pledge (The Bonn Challenge).
      • To meet this target, global deforestation must be reduced by at least 10% annually. Also, tree cover must increase by 22 Mha per year between 2021 and 2030.

  • Tree Cover Loss: The total global tree cover loss in 2022 declined by 10%. This includes primary, secondary, and planted forests. This decrease, according to Global Forest Watch, is a direct result of a decrease in fire-related forest losses which decreased 28% from 2021.
    • However, non-fire losses in 2022 increased by slightly less than 1%.
  • Forest Loss in India:
    • India experienced the loss of 43.9 thousand hectares of humid primary forest between 2021 and 2022.
    • This accounted for 17% of the country's total tree cover loss during the period, which amounted to 255 thousand hectares.


  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change defines ‘forest cover’ in India as “all lands, more than one hectare in area with a tree canopy density of more than 10%”, and ‘tree cover’ as “tree patches outside recorded forest areas exclusive of forest cover and less than the minimum mappable area of one hectare”.

What is the Status of Forests in India?

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q1. At the national level, which ministry is the nodal agency to ensure effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006? (2021)

(a) Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
(b) Ministry of Panchayati Raj
(c) Ministry of Rural Development
(d) Ministry of Tribal Affairs


Q2. A particular State in India has the following characteristics: (2012)

  1. It is located on the same latitude which passes through northern Rajasthan.
  2. It has over 80% of its area under forest cover.
  3. Over 12% of forest cover constitutes Protected Area Network in this State.

Which one among the following States has all the above characteristics?

(a) Arunachal Pradesh
(b) Assam
(c) Himachal Pradesh
(d) Uttarakhand

Ans: (a)


Q. “The most significant achievement of modern law in India is the constitutionalization of environmental problems by the Supreme Court.” Discuss this statement with the help of relevant case laws. (2022)

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