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Disappearing Green Cover: India Lost Tree Covers Of Almost 16 Lakh Hectare In Last 17 Years

India Forest Global Forest Resource

India, a country which is developing at a colossal rate, in the bid to provide a plethora of infrastructure to its citizens, the importance of green lands seems to be forgotten. To support this claim, a new study – Global Forest Watch released by the World Resources Institute (WRI) on April 25 said that India has almost lost 16 lakh hectare of tree cover between the time period of 2001 and 2018. The report further claimed that this is equivalent to almost four times the geographical area of Goa.

The non-profit research organisation in their latest report stressed upon the decaying of the planet earth, blaming on the wiping off the vast forest lands in recent past. The researchers in the report mentioned that the world had lost around 12 lakh hectares of tropical tree cover in last year itself, exuding planet’s health is at seer risk. The report further claimed that last year’s decline is the fourth highest annual decline according to the data collected since 2001.


Significant greenery loss in NE states

Worrying about India’s condition, the report mentioned that during the time period of 2001 and 2018, northeastern states contributed to almost half the tree cover loss in the country. Five northeastern states in which serious deforestation has been reported were Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, and Tripura. The study took a step ahead and found that the loss of trees in the country during this period of 17 years, resulted in the addition of 172 MT of carbon emission.

The report also mentions that in the year 2000 the country’s total tree cover was 12% which dropped by 3.1% to 8.9% in 2010. The body came to a conclusion by taking help from the compiled set of data by US Geological Survey, University of Maryland, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Google along with satellite images to find tree cover globally for the years 2000 and 2010.

Hindustan Times reported that Ruchika Singh, who is the director of sustainable landscapes and restoration at WRI India said that the report pertaining to India is rough as it fails to cover scrub forest and open forest which comprises of a large portion of country’s green land. She further explained that climate change and diversion of forest land caused to dwindling of tree cover in northeastern states. She also said that large scale plantation or forestry was the paradoxical reason for the tree cover loss in India.


Not an accurate report?

Interestingly, India’s research forest survey – Forest Survey of India, showed a different picture. It said that India’s tree cover has gradually shot up during the same period in which Global Forest Watch asserted that the tree cover had plunged. According to FSI’s 2005 and 2017 report, the tree cover rose to 93,815 sq km from 91,663 sq km. Subhash Asutosh, director general of FSI, further bashing the reports of Global Forest Watch took the support of NASA’s recent report which mentioned that India and China were responsible for the greening of the globe. Professor NH Ravindranath, who is the forestry expert at Indian Institute of Science noted that the difference between the Global Forest Watch’s findings and FSI could be because FSI considers a tree with even a minimum height of 2 meters. He also said that the body covers almost all the vegetation that is visible through satellite data.

Also Read: Citizen Group Sets An Example By Reviving Rachenahalli Lake In Bengaluru

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