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| Last Updated:: 09/12/2015

North eastern states have lost 628 sq kms of forest: State of forest report






 Even as the Indian State of Forest Report 2015 recorded an increase of 3,775 sqkm in the country's forest cover compared to the last survey in 2013, the hill states of north east and Uttarakhand, regions with some of the country's best forests, have witnessed a setback. According to the report's data north eastern states there has been a net decline of 628 sq km in the forest cover since 2013. The loss is more than the total area of Mumbai city.


North eastern states constitute only 7.9 percent of geographical area of the country but accounts for nearly one-fourth of the country's forest cover, the report said. It is one of the 18 biodiversity hotspots of the world due to these rich forests.


The top-five states who have recorded negative changes in forest cover are Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Mizoram's 88.9% area is covered by forests and the state has lost 306 sq kms of it while Uttarakhand whose 45.3% area is forests lost 268 sq km of it.


The State of Forest Report survey, during its ground truthing, tried to ascertain reasons for the increase and decrease in forests. It states that Mizoram has lost forests cover due to shifting cultivation patterns and other 'biotic' pressure on forest lands. On the other hand, Uttarakhand has lost forest cover due to rotational felling and diversion of forest land for developmental activities.


Incidentally states such as Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, that have both recorded loss of forest cover, are planning to build over a hundred hydro power projects each to harness major rivers. Several of these projects fall in dense to moderately dense forests and have faced opposition owing to the large forest cutting it will cause. The 2,880MW Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP) in Lower Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh will alone cut down 45.77 sq km of forest.


As part of the survey, forest cover across states is categorised into Very Dense Forests, Moderately Dense Forests and Open Forests. An analysis of the report's data shows that Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Uttarakhand have all mostly lost moderately dense forests.



Categories of forest based on density


Very dense forest are lands with tree canopy density of 70 %and above, moderately dense forests have a tree canopy density of 40 percent and more but less than 70 % while open forests have a canopy density of less than 10 percent.