Forest cover of C’garh increases by 120 sq km

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Feb 2018 11:20:56


Staff Reporter

The forest cover of Chhattisgarh increased by 120 sq km in 2017 as compared to 2016 with Raipur, Bilaspur and Raigarh increasing their green footprint during this time period though there is a worrying decline in the districts of Bastar division as all of them together see a reduction of over 105 sq km green cover in the time period of one year.
While overall green cover, including tree patches outside recorded forest areas, reported an incremental 1% increase (123 sq km) over the last assessment year in 2017, the quality of forests remain a hotly debated subject even as satellite monitoring has increased availability of data.

Releasing the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017, the environment ministry looked at the overall green cover (total forest and tree cover) of over 10,002 sq km and pitched it as a success of multiple afforestation programmes.

Though this figure puts green cover at 39.3% of Chhattisgarh’s geographical area, this does not reflect a complete picture as it includes tree cover of 3000 sq km, primarily computed by notional numbers. In the past, studies have argued that the problem of depletion as well as over-exploitation of forests has taken a toll of India’s forests and their sustainability and the problem of simplifying a maze of rules and tune conservation with the needs of local communities remains a challenge.

Taking into account the density (canopy covering branches and foliage formed by the crowns of trees), forest cover is divided into ‘very dense’, ‘moderately dense’ and ‘open’ forest. The ‘very dense’ forest cover has increased over the last assessment of 2017, but the ‘moderately dense’ category reported a decline — a sign which environmentalists consider quite worrying in different parts of the state. The ISFR updated the number of districts for its assessment from 21 to all 27 of the state. The ministry of forest and environment, however, increases by 120 sq kmclaimed that the change in area was calculated ‘using updated figures’ to facilitate comparison on a common methodological platform. The report showed that forest cover in all districts of Bastar division consist of Bastar, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Dantewada and Sukma decreased in 2017. Experts believe forests in Bastar region are rich in forest carbon and decline in forest cover in the region could have been avoided.

The ISFR 2017 shows that about 30% of the state’s forest cover is present in 2 divisions of the state that are Surguja and Bastar. Mangrove ecosystem is rich in biodiversity and provides a number of ecological services. The India State of Forest Report 2017 is the 15th such report in the series. The report, however, for the first time contains information on decadal change in water bodies in forest during 2005-2015, forest fire, production of timber from outside forest, state wise carbon stock in different forest types and density classes.

Dr S A Sawant, environmentalist and expert of forest said that it is good that state is seeing a rise in forest area but also it is matter of concern that green cover in Bastar region is declining which is also a rich source of many herbs.