According to the State of Forest Report 2003 the total forest and tree cover of India has increased to 778,229 sq. km constituting 23.68% of its geographic area, against 757,010 sq. km constituting 23.03% of geographic area in 2001 assessment. Thus, there is an increase of forest and tree cover by 21,219 sq. km, which is 0.65% of geographical area as compared to 2001 assessment. The State of Forest Report – 2003 (SFR-2003), was released by the Minister of Environment and Forests, Thiru A. Raja, this week.
This report is the ninth assessment of the forest cover of the country carried out by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), Dehradun – an organization under the Ministry of Environment & Forests, which assesses forest and tree cover of the country on a two-year cycle. The assessment of forest and tree cover is based on interpretation of data from Indian Remote Sensing Satellites for the year 2002.
SFR-2003 has been enriched by the incorporation of many new features. The most prominent one is the introduction of one more density class in the classification of forest cover. Up to SFR-2001, any forest cover with a canopy density more than 40% was classified as ‘Dense Forest’ (DF). SFR-2003 shows the forest cover with a canopy density over 70% as ‘Very Dense Forest’ (VDF); and that with canopy density between 40 and 70% as ‘Moderately Dense Forest’ (MDF). The same category has been introduced in mangrove cover assessment too. Another newly incorporated highly useful feature is the data on the growing stock of wood. The report provides information on volumes of wood not only in forest areas but also outside it. Sound statistical techniques have been used for this estimation, which is valuable for planning and management decision-making.