The forest cover has declined by 0.5% to 0.79% in Jharkhand’s five districts — Ranchi, Dumka, Giridih, Pakur and West Singhbhum — between 2013 and 2015 and it has increased by only 5 square kilometer in the state during the period, according to the Jharkhand Economic Survey (2015-16).
The state’s overall forest growth was 496 sq km between 2011 and 2013.
The area of moderately dense forests has declined by 4 sq km since 2013 mainly due to rising mining activities. Very dense forests have registered an increase of 1 sq km and open forests have grown by 8 sq km, the survey says quoting the India’s Forest Survey Report (IFSR), 2015.
Jharkhand’s total forest cover increased from 23,473 sq km to 23,478 sq km — 29.48% of the state’s total area — in the last two years. Open forests account for 14.08% of the state’s forest cover, very dense forests 3.26% and moderately dense forests 12.12%.
“The survey report is disappointing. I think big trees that have been replaced by small ones could not be captured in satellite images of IFSR-2015,” said YKS Chouhan, additional principal chief conservator of forest (APCCF). He blamed increasing mining activities in the state for the poor forest cover increase.
The state’s progress in green cover is, however, much than Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, created along with Jharkhand. The forest cover has declined by 268 sq km in Uttarakhand and by 35 sq km in Chhattisgarh because of development projects, experts said.
The forest growth in Ranchi district, which was 16.70% — the highest — between 2011 and 2013, has declined by 0.38% in the latest survey. Giridih and Dumka recorded major forest loss — 0.79% and 0.45% respectively. Pakur’s forest cover dropped by 0.35% and West Singhbhum’s by 0.5%.
“Forest loss impacts environment but mostly wildlife. Jharkhand has been witnessing migration of wildlife from forest areas for the last few years only because of forest degradation. It is high time for the government to take appropriate action to protect state’s forest cover,” said DS Srivastava, a member of the Jharkhand biodiversity board.
The state forest department is confident that the forest cover would improve in the next survey. “The Mukhya Mantri Jan Van Yojana and massive plantation drive during 2015-16 would definitely bring good result in the next survey,” said YKS Chouhan.
The forest department has claimed to have planted 3.12 crore saplings during 2015-16 and it plans to plant 2.79 crore more during 2016-17.