A government report on Tuesday said India’s green cover has increased by over 5,800 sq km (or 0.18%) between 2010 and 2012 taking into account plantations and commercial species having no ecological value. In fact, just 31 sq km increase has been recorded in dense forests.
The moderately dense forests — where most developmental projects have been allowed — has witnessed a decline in cover of around 2,000 sq kms.
The loss, the report claims, has been compensated by increase in green cover of 7,830 sq kms in open forests having canopy density between 10% and 40% — read plantations, orchards and trees planted alongside roads and canals.
Two states — Kerala and West Bengal — recording highest increase in green cover was on account of plantations and poor assessment of forests in previous surveys rather than sprucing of green cover, the report admitted.
The survey — released two days before the budget and based on satellite imagery taken after monsoon in 2012 — also counted commercial species such as teak, rubber, eucalyptus or poplar having no ecological value as forests. “The satellite image cannot differentiate between a plantation and a natural forest,” a Forest Survey of India official explained.
The State of India’s Forests 2013 report had some eye openers for policy makers in that half of the forest does not have adequate rejuvenation and about 30% of recorded forest has no tree cover.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar emphasised on the need of people’s participation in rejuvenating degraded forest, which account for about 8% of India’s 78.92 million hectares of green cover. He also gave the slogan of “janta, jameen and jungle” to make protecting forests as people’s movement.