For Prelims: Tree Cover, Forest Cover, National Mission for a Green India (GIM), National Action Plan on Climate Change, India State of Forest Report-2021, National Afforestation Programme, Environment Protection Act of 1986, Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act.
For Mains: India State of Forest Report-2021, Issues Associated with Forests in India, Government Initiatives for Forest Conservation.
States with significant shortfall in tree cover include Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerela.
How is Tree Cover Different from Forest Cover?
Tree cover refers to the total area of land that is covered by trees, regardless of whether or not the trees are part of a forest ecosystem.
Forest cover, on the other hand, refers specifically to the area of land that is covered by a forest ecosystem, which is defined as an area with a tree canopy density of more than 10% and an area of more than 1 hectares.
So, all forest cover is tree cover, but not all tree cover is forest cover.
India’s total forest and tree cover was 80.9 million hectares, which accounted for 24.62% of the geographical area of the country.
The report said 17 States and Union Territories had more than 33% of their area under forest cover.
Madhya Pradesh had the largest forest cover, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
The top five States in terms of forest cover as a percentage of their total geographical area were Mizoram (84.53%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%), Meghalaya (76%), Manipur (74.34%) and Nagaland (73.90%).
Issues Associated with Forests in India:
Shrinking Forest Cover: According to the National Forest Policy of India, the ideal percentage of total geographical area under forest should be at least 33% to maintain ecological stability.
However, it currently covers just 24.62% of the country’s land and is shrinking rapidly.
Resource Access Conflict: There is often conflict between the interests of local communities and those of commercial interests, such as pharmaceutical industries or timber industries.
This can lead to social tensions and even violence, as different groups struggle to access and use the resources of the forests.
Climate Change: Forest disturbances caused by climate change, including insect outbreaks, invasive species due to climate led migration, wildfires, and storms, reduce forest productivity and change species distribution.
By 2030, 45-64% of forests in India will experience the effects of climate change and rising temperatures.
Utilising Technology for Conservation: Technology can be utilised such as remote sensing, to monitor and track forest cover, forest fire and identify areas in need of protection.
Also, Potential resource mapping can be done in unexplored forest areas, and they can be brought under scientific management and sustainable resource extraction maintaining density and forest health
Dedicated Forest Corridors: For safe intrastate and interstate passage of wild animals and protecting their habitat from any external influence, dedicated forest corridors can be maintained giving a message of peaceful-co existence.
Promoting Agroforestry: This practice involves integrating trees and forest-based products into farming systems. This can help increase forest cover and also provide farmers with additional income and resources.
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)
It is located on the same latitude which passes through northern Rajasthan.
It has over 80% of its area under forest cover.
Over 12% of forest cover constitutes the Protected Area Network in this State.
Which one among the following States has all the above characteristics?
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)