India’s total forest cover was 7,13,789 sq km in 2021, depicting an increase of 3.14 percent over 2011 even as it remained as the tenth-largest country by forest area in the world, the Economic Survey 2021-22 said.
Forest area refers to the area recorded as forest in government records and is also called “recorded forest area”.
Russia, Brazil, Canada, the US, and China were the top five largest countries by forest area in 2020, while India was the tenth largest, the survey reported.
Forests covered 24 percent of India’s total geographical area accounting for two % of the world’s total forest area in 2020. The top 10 countries account for 66 percent of the world’s forest area. Of these countries, Brazil (59%), Peru (57%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (56%), and Russia (50%) have half or more of their total geographical area under forests.
“India has increased its forest area significantly over the past decade. It ranks third globally in the average annual net gain in forest area between 2010 to 2020, adding an average of 2,66,000 ha of additional forest area every year during the period, or adding approximately 0.38 percent of the 2010 forest area every year between 2010 to 2020,” said the Economic Survey.
Forest cover comprises all lands, more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10 percent, irrespective of ownership and legal status. Such lands may not necessarily be a recorded forest area, and also include orchards, bamboo, and palm plantations.
India’s total forest cover was 7,13,789 sq km in 2021, reflecting an increase of 3.14 % in the forest cover over 2011, moving from 21.05 percent of the country’s geographical area in 2011 to 21.71 percent in 2021. This increase in total forest cover is mainly attributed to an increase in very dense forests (all lands with tree canopy density of 70% and above), which rose by 19.54 percent between 2011 and 2021.
Open forest (all lands with tree canopy density between 10-40 %) also improved by 6.71 percent, while moderately dense forest (all lands with tree canopy density between 40-70 %) declined by 4.32 percent between 2011 and 2021.
Amongst states, Madhya Pradesh (11% of India’s total) had the largest forest cover in India in 2021, followed by Arunachal Pradesh (9%), Chhattisgarh (8%), Odisha (7%), and Maharashtra (7%).
Mizoram (85%), Arunachal Pradesh (79%), Meghalaya (76%), Manipur (74%) and Nagaland (74%) were the top five states in terms of the highest percent of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area of the state in 2021.
Arunachal Pradesh accounted for 21 percent of India’s very dense forest in 2021, followed by Maharashtra (9%), Odisha (7%), Chhattisgarh (7 %), and Madhya Pradesh (7%).
Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh accounted for 11 percent of India’s moderately dense forest in 2021, followed by Arunachal Pradesh (10 %), Odisha (7 %), and Karnataka (7 %).
Madhya Pradesh also accounted for 12 percent of India’s moderately dense forest cover in 2021, followed by Odisha (8 %), Maharashtra (7 %), Chhattisgarh (5 %), and Assam (5 %), the Survey said.