NEW DELHI: Nearly a quarter -- 24.56 per cent -- of India's geographical territory is under tree and forest cover, according to the India State of Forest Report 2019 released on Monday.
The report reveals that as compared to the assessment of 2017, there is an increase of 5,188 sq km in the total forest and tree cover of the country.
Out of this, the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 3,976 sq km and that in tree cover is 1,212 sq km.
However, in a worrying trend, the forest cover continues to decline in the northeast.
Under the current assessment, the total carbon stock in the country’s forests is estimated at 7,124.6 million tonnes. There is an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock of the country as compared to the last assessment of 2017.
"Since 2014, India has recorded an increase of over 13,000 sq km of forest," said Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar while releasing the India State of Forest Report 2019.
The minister said increasing forest cover is part of Indian culture and the report gives confidence that the country is on track to achieve its global commitment in this regard and thereby fight climate change.
India has a long term plan to increase forest cover to 33 per cent of its geographical area. Javadekar, however, refused to give a time limit for achieving it.
The top three states showing an increase in forest cover are Karnataka (1,025 sq km) followed by Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km) and Kerala (823 sq km).
The mangrove cover has been separately reported in the India State of Forest Report 2019. The total mangrove cover in the country is 4,975 sq km.
An increase of 54 sq km in mangrove cover has been observed as compared to the previous assessment of 2017.
The top three states showing mangrove cover increase are Gujarat (37 sq km) followed by Maharashtra (16 sq km) and Odisha (8 sq km).
The total growing stock of India’s forest and tree cover is estimated at 5,915.76 million cum of which 4,273.47 million cum is inside the forests and 1,642.29 million cum outside. There is an increase of 93.38 million cum of total growing stock, as compared to the previous assessment.
The extent of the bamboo-bearing area in the country has been estimated at 16 million hectares. The total estimated green weight of bamboo culms is 278 million tonnes, showing an increase of 88 million tonnes as compared to ISFR 2017.