[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Dec 30: For the second consecutive year, Arunachal has seen a decline in its total forest cover.
According to the India State of the Forest Report (ISFR) 2019, the forest cover in the state has decreased by 276.22 sq kms, as compared to the previous assessment reported in the ISFR 2017. The state has also recorded a decrease in bamboo bearing areas from 15,125 sq kms in 2017 to 14,981 in 2019. The state remains the third largest area, after Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Union Environment, Forests & Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar released the report on Monday. It shows an increase of 3,976 sq kms forest cover at the national level, as compared to 2017. The total forest cover of India is now estimated at 7,12,249 sq kms, which is 21.67 percent of the geographic area of the country.
The forest cover in Arunachal is 66,687.78 sq kms, which is 79.63 percent of the state’s geographical area, according to the report.
In 2017, the report had mentioned 190 sq kms’ decrease in the state’s forest cover.
Arunachal has one of the highest forest covers in the country, after Madhya Pradesh. The declining trend in the forest cover has been attributed to increasing population, developmental activities, and jhum cultivation.
“(Owing to) increasing population, developmental activities and practices like jhuming, the pressure on forest resources is consistently increasing, leading to their degradation and affecting regeneration and productivity,” the 2019 report read.
During the period from 1 January, 2015 to 5 February, 2019, a total of 451.37 hectares of forest land were diverted for non-forestry purposes under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, in the state, according to the report.
Arunachal has about 20 percent species of the country’s fauna, about 4,500 species of flowering plants, 400 species of pteridophytes, 23 species of conifers, 35 species of bamboos, 20 species of canes, 52 species of rhododendrons, and more than 500 species of orchids, the report added.
“Forests are the mainstay of the economy, and the livelihoods of the local people have been closely linked and heavily dependent on forest resources since time immemorial,” it read.
The recorded forest area in the state is 51,407 sq kms, of which 10,589 sq kms are reserved forests, 9,779 sq kms are protected forests, and 31,039 sq kms are unclassed forests. Two national parks and 11 wildlife sanctuaries constitute the protected area network of the state, covering 11.68 percent of its geographical area.
In terms of forest canopy density classes, Arunachal has 21,095.43 sq kms under very dense forests, 30,556.50 sq kms under moderately dense forests, and 15,035.85 sq kms under open forests.
The reserved, protected and unclassified forests are 20.60 percent, 19.02 percent and 60.38 percent, respectively, of the recorded forest area in the state.
India’s total forest cover has increased by 0.56 percent over the last two years, according to the ISFR 2019.
Nationwide, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have recorded the highest increase in forest cover.
The yearly survey is carried out using remote sensing techniques, followed by field surveys. (The full report can be read at http://fsi.nic.in)