India: Western Ghats, considered one of the global biodiversity hotspots, has lost forest cover to the tune of 33,579 square km, or 35.3 per cent, of the total forest over the last nine decades, indicating that it represents a vulnerable ecosystem, reveals the latest findings by the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO's) National Remote Sensing Centre in Hyderabad.
Among the hotspots under India, the Western Ghats account for 64.95 per cent; Indo-Burma, 5.13 per cent; Himalayas, 44.37 per cent; and Sundaland, 1.28 per cent. Mapping of forest cover is an important measure of natural resource inventory and management for any area.
"Yet there are no comprehensive studies particularly on the biodiversity hotspots of India. Thus, the objective of present study is to quantify and characterize the long-term forest cover changes in Western Ghats over a period of nine decades. The study is also aimed at quantifying spatial extent of forest types and land use and to estimate rate of deforestation in Western Ghats," says the paper titled 'Assessment and monitoring of long-term forest cover changes (1920-2013) in Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot'.
Western Ghats of India stretch along 1,500 km in length from river Tapti in the north to Kanyakumari in south. The mean elevation of the Western Ghats is higher than 600 metres and exceeds 2,000 metres at some places. It covers parts of six states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and one union territory (Dadra & Nagar Haveli).
"Among the six states (1920-2013), historical loss of forest area was very high in Western Ghats of Kerala with forest cover loss of 62.7 percent of area, followed by 34.9 percent in Gujarat, 27.1 percent in Karnataka, 26.3 percent in Goa, 21.6 percent in Maharashtra and 15.2 percent in Tamil Nadu," reveals the research paper which has been published in the "Journal of Earth System Science" of the Indian Academy of Sciences.
Source: Bangalore Mirror