According to the State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021, released by the Ministry of Environment on January 13, the cover in the Northeastern region of India witnessed severe declination by 1,020 square kilometres during 2019-2021.
Forest cover in the Northeastern states:
The eight northeastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim — account for 23.75 percent of the country’s total cover. The report said that Arunachal Pradesh lost the maximum cover of 257 sq km in this time frame, Meghalaya lost 249 sq km, Nagaland 235 sq km, Mizoram 186 sq km, Meghalaya 73 sq km, Assam 15 sq km, Tripura 4 sq km and Sikkim lost one square kilometre forest cover.
Increase of India’s forest cover over the years:
According to 2021 census data, India accounts for 80.9 million hectares of total tree cover which is 24.62% of the geographical area of the country. As compared to the assessment of 2019, there is an increase of 2,261 sq km in the total tree cover of the country. Out of this, the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 1,540 sq km, and that in tree cover is 721 sq km.
The report said, ”Increase in cover has been observed in the open forest followed by very dense. The top three states showing an increase in cover are Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km) followed by Telangana (632 sq km) and Odisha (537 sq km).”
Area-wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Maharashtra. In terms of cover as a percentage of total geographical area, the top five States are Mizoram (84.53%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%), Meghalaya (76.00%), Manipur (74.34%), and Nagaland (73.90%).
The report also mentioned that 17 states/UT’s have above 33 percent of the geographical area. Out of these states and UT’s, five states/UTs namely Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have more than 75 percent cover while 12 states/UTs namely Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Assam, Odisha, between 33 percent to 75 percent.
Region faces deforestation:
The northeastern part of India is widely known for its diverse and most extensive lush, and is sadly one of the major regions facing severe deforestation. Forests of this region are unique structurally and species composition. It is a meeting region of temperate east Himalayan flora, palaeo-arctic flora of Tibetan highland and wet evergreen flora of south-east Asia and Yunnan forming a bowl of biodiversity.