India’s forest cover increasing! Southern states take lead in adding over 5,000 sq km to country’s green cover

Debjit Sinha
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India gets vital environment boost! Total forest and tree cover has increased by 5,188 sq km across India in the past two years, as per the India State of Forest Report 2019. The report says that there is an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock of India. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar has released the India State of Forest Report 2019 and asserted that India is on track to achieve its Paris Agreement goals. Javadekar said that the report has given confidence to the central government that it is on track to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. Javadekar said that the mangrove cover in the country has increased by 54 sq km (1.10 per cent) if it is compared to the previous assessment.

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the front-runner states in terms of increase in forest cover. Karnataka has increased 1,025 sq km, Andhra Pradesh has increased 990 sq km, and Kerala has increased 823 sq km. Out of 5,188 sq. km increase in the last two years, there has been an increase of 3,976 sq. km (0.56 per cent) of forest cover. Apart from this, an increase of 1,212 sq. km (1.29 per cent) of tree cover was reported, compared to the report of 2017 released by the Forest Survey of India (FSI).

The report stated that the total carbon stock in India’s forests is estimated at 7,124.6 million tonnes. There is an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock of India as compared to the last assessment of 2017. The annual increase is 21.3 million tonnes, which is equivalent to 78.1 million tonnes of CO2.

Javadekar, however, revealed that the current report shows a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 765 sq km (0.45 per cent) in northeast India region. Except for Assam and Tripura, the rest of the five states in the northeast region show a decrease in forest cover. Earlier in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would achieve most of the COP 21 climate change goals set for 2030 in the next one and half years. The COP21 is also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.