India’s Forest Cover 2011/2021- An Overview

India’s Forest Cover 2011/2021 – An Overview

This update includes some details on the state of forests in India in 2021and compares them with the report earlier presented for 2011.

India is one of the mega diversity countries in the world possessing about 7 to 8% of the world’s biodiversity represented by 45,500 plant species (12% of worlds flora) and 91,000 animal species (6% of worlds fauna). Nearly 6,500 native plants are used predominantly in the indigenous medicine system of India. Among species found in India only 12.6% mammals, 4.5% birds, 45.8% reptiles and 55.8% amphibians are endemic. India contains 172 IUCN designated threatened species.

As per the State of Forest report published by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, for 2011, the forest and tree cover was 782871 (692,027 Forest; 90,844 Tree Cover) which is 23.81% of the geographical area and includes the 2.76% tree cover. This was certainly below the target of 33% laid down in the National Forest Policy of 1988.

As per the India State of Forest Report 2021 published by the Forest Survey of India, MoEF and CC in 2023, the total forest and tree cover of the country is 809537 Sq. Km. which is 24.62% of the geographical area of the country. There has been an increase of (809537-782871 Sq. Km.) 26666 sq. kms. in the total area under forest and tree cover and an increase of (24.62-23.81%) 0.81%, over the past 10 reporting years. The tree cover over this period has risen from 2.76% of the total geographical area to 2.91%.

In 2010, the FSI had estimated the change in Carbon Stocks held in forests. It had registered a net increase of 592 million tons between 1994 (6071 million tons) and 2004 (6663 million tons).

The 2021 reports the total carbon stock in forests at 7204.0 million tonnes which is considerably more than the carbon stocks of 6663 million tonnes held in forests in 2004. An annual increase of 39.7 million tonnes has been reported which is 145.6 million tonnes of CO2 eq.

The total growing forest stock, a key indicator of the forest health and productivity in the country, estimated through forest cover, forest type and sample plots laid out during a field inventory from 2002 to 2008, had been estimated as 6047.15 million cubic meter out of which forests contributed 4498.73 and Trees outside forests (TOF) contributed 1548.42 million cubic meter. The maximum was reported from Arunachal Pradesh (567.2) followed by Uttaranchal (481.01), Maharashtra (440.07), Karnataka (416.9) and Chhattisgarh (404.5). U.P. reports only 205.09 million cubic meter of growing stock as per these estimates.

The total growing stock of wood in the country is now (2021) estimated as 6167.54 million cubic metres which is an increment of (7204.0-6047.15) 1,156.85 sq. mts. over the figures for 2008. Out of this 6167.54 million cubic meters in 2021, 4388.15 million cubic meter is inside forest areas and 1779.39 outside recorded forest areas. Earlier in 2008 the wood stock in forests was reported at 4498.73 and outside forests as 1548.42 million cubic meters. It is observed that the wood stock within forests has registered a decline of 110.58 (4498.73-4388.15) million cubic meter whereas the wood stock outside forests has registered an increase (1779.39-1548.42) 230.97 million cubic meters since 2008. The decline in forest area stock may need further attention. The average growing stock per ha. in forest has been estimated at 56.60 cubic meters in the 2021 report.

The maximum volume of growing stock has been reported for Chhattisgarh (506.94 million cubic meters), Madhya Pradesh (492.49 million cubic meters), Arunachal Pradesh (492.47 million cubic meters), Maharashtra (423.19 million cubic meters), Karnataka (423.86 million cubic meters), Uttarakhand 419.41 million cubic meters and Odisha (383.65 million cubic meters). Uttar Pradesh reports 211.14 million cubic meters. While there has been a considerable increase in Chhattisgarh, other leading states in the report for 2008 have registered lower stocks. Uttar Pradesh has improved slightly.

India’s Forest Cover

In the report for 2011, out of the total forest cover in the country, very dense forests contributed 83,471 (2.54%), moderately dense forests 320,736 sq. km. (9.76%) and Open forests 287,280 (8.75%). Madhya Pradesh followed by Arunachal, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Orissa had the highest forest cover. Mizoram (90.68%), Lakshwadeep (81.51%), Arunachal Pradesh (80.50%), Nagaland (80.33%), Meghalaya (77.02%) and Tripura (76.07%) had the highest percentage in terms of total geographical area.

The State of Forest report of 2021 mentions the total forest cover of the country as 713789 which is 21.71 percent of the total geographical area of the country. The area covered by very dense forests is 99779 sq. kms (3.04%); moderately dense forests is 306890 sq. kms. (9.33%) and open forests 307120 sq. kms. (9.34%). The very dense forest and moderately dense forests together constitute 57% of the total forest cover of the country. There has been an improvement in forest cover over the past 10 years as presented in the reports of 2011 and 2021 (From 691487 sq. kms to 713789 sq. kms). Like in the earlier assessment in 2011, Arunachal Pradesh, (66431 sq. kms); Chhattisgarh (55717 sq. kms); Odisha (52156 sq.Kms) and Maharashtra (50798 sq.Kms.) lead in forest cover Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%);  Manipur (74.34%); Meghalaya (76%); Mizoram (84.53%); Nagaland (73.90%); Tripura (73.64%); Andman and Nicobar Islands (81.75%) and Lakshadweep (90%) have the highest percentage of geographical area covered by forests.

At the national level the change in forest cover between the two assessment periods of 2009 and 2011 indicated a reduction of 367 sq. km., despite the fact that there had been an increase in the very dense forests (43 and the moderately dense forests (498 sq. km). The open forested areas in this period have registered a decline of 908 sq. km. The change can be attributed to management intervention such as harvesting of short rotational plantations, clearances in encroached areas, biotic pressures, shifting cultivation practices etc.

Between 2011 to 2021 there has been a change in forest cover which has risen from 691487 sq. kms to 713789 sq.kms (22302 sq.kms).

The forest cover in very dense forests has increased by (99779-83471) 16308 sq.kms., while the moderately dense forests have registered a decline of (320736-306890) 13846 sq. kms. Open forests have registered an increase of 19840 sq. kms. from figures reported in 2011.

The total tree cover of the country had been estimated at 90,844 kms. The total forest and tree cover was 782, which was 23.81% of the total geographic area of the country, an increase from the 23.4% as presented in the State of Forest Report of 2009.

As against these estimates of 2009, the total tree cover of the country has been estimated as 95748 sq. kms. which is an increase of more than (95748-90844) 4904 Sq.Kms.

The forest cover in the country had been divided unto 04 classes based on the tree canopy density- all lands with a tree canopy density of more than 70% are classified as very dense forest, between 40 and 70% as moderately dense, between 10 and 40% as open forest, degraded forest lands with less than 10% as scrubs and areas not included in any of these as non-forest.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles