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Forests – State of Forest Report 2015: Key Facts

Key Definitions

Canopy and Canopy Density

The cover of branches and Foliage formed by the crown of trees is called Canopy. The percentage area of land covered by the canopy of trees is called Canopy density.

Forest Cover

Forest Cover is defined as “All lands more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10 % irrespective of ownership and legal status. Such lands may not necessarily be a recorded forest area. It also includes orchards bamboo and palm.

Recorded Forest Area and Forest Blank

In India, Forest area is a legal status. Forest cover is a geographical status. The government assigns many lands as forests even if some parts of them don’t have full tree cover. For instance, there could be rivers, lakes, grasslands rocks and even some empty land inside the forest that is still counted as a forest area – as the government doesn’t want you to build homes or farms on them. This is protected. Forest cover is any area with a lot of trees [tree canopy density more than 10%] whether it is officially protected by the government or not.

The term ‘Forest Area’ (or recorded forest area) generally refers to all the geographic areas recorded as forest in government records.

Recorded forest areas largely comprises Reserved Forests (RF) and Protected Forests (PF), which have been constituted under the provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927. Besides RFs and PFs, the recorded forest area may include all such areas, which have been recorded as forests in the revenue records or have been constituted so under any State Act or local laws. On the other hand, the term ‘Forest Cover’ as used in the ‘SFR’ refers to all lands more than one hectare in area, having a tree canopy density of more than 10%. Thus the term ‘forest area’ denotes the legal status of the land as per the government records, whereas the term ‘forest cover’ indicates presence of trees over any land.


Since the primary function of CAMPA is the regeneration of vegetation cover and promoting afforestation as a way of compensating for forest land which is diverted to non-forest uses. It, therefore, calls for an information system so as to collect and present information to monitor and track how well CAMPA funds are achieving this end.

Carbon Stock

It is defined as the amount of carbon stored in the ecosystem of the forest especially in living biomass and soil.

Types of Forest Covers

The degraded forest lands which have a Canopy density of less than 10% are called Scrubs. The Lands with Canopy density of 10-40% are called Open Forests. The Land with forest cover having a canopy density of 40-70% is called the Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) The Lands with forest cover having a canopy density of 70% and more are called Very Dense Forests (VDF).

State of Forest Report 2015: Key Facts

The Government announced that India’s forest and tree cover has increased by 5, 081 sq km. While the total forest cover of the country has increased by 3, 775 sq km, the tree cover has gone up by 1, 306 sq km. According to the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2015, the total forest and tree cover is 79.42 million hectare, which is 24.16 percent of the total geographical area. The total carbon stock in the country’s forest is estimated to be 7, 044 million tones, an increase of 103 million tonnes, which is an increase of 1.48 in percentage terms over the previous assessments.

The India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2015 states that the majority of the increase in forest cover has been observed in open forest category mainly outside forest areas, followed by Very Dense Forest. While Open Forest area has increased by 4, 744 sq km, which is 9.14 per cent of the geographical area, the area under Very Dense Forest has increased by 2, 404 sq kms, which is 2.61% of the geographical area. About 40 per cent forest cover is in 9 big patches of 10, 000 sq km and more. The increase in total forest cover also includes an increase in the mangrove cover.

The maximum increase in forest cover has been observed in Tamil Nadu – 2, 501 sq km, followed by Kerala – 1, 317 sq km and Jammu & Kashmir – 450 sq km. Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77, 462 sq km in the country, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, with a forest cover of 67, 248 sq km and Chhattisgarh – 55, 586 sq km. Mizoram, with 88.93 percentage of forest cover has the highest forest cover in percentage terms, followed by Lakshadweep with 84.56 per cent.

The ISFR 2015 states that 15 States/Union Territories have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover. Out of these, 7 States/Union Territories – Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Island, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur have more than 75 per cent forest cover, while 8 states – Tripura, Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam have forest cover is between 33 percent to 75 percent.

The India State of Forest Report 2015 is the 14th report in the series. It is based on interpretation of LISS III sensor data of indigenous Resourcesat – II satellite. The satellite data interpretation is followed by extensive and rigorous ground truthing.

Mangrove Cover

The latest report of the Forest Survey of India (FSI), 2015 has recorded a net increase of 112 sq. km. of mangroves forest — one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change. The earlier FSI report in 2013 recorded a net decrease of 34 sq. km. of mangrove forest. According to the latest report, the overall mangrove cover in the country stands at 4,740 sq. km., which is 0.14 sq. km. of India’s overall geographical area.

In fact, there are only 12 States and Union Territories along the country’s coastline that can boast of mangroves. West Bengal, which has a total mangrove cover of 2,106 sq. km., accounts for 44.5 per cent, the highest in the country. It is followed by Gujarat with about 1,107 sq. km. . Andaman and Nicobar islands also has a considerable mangrove forest cover with 617 sq. km. of it.

As per the report, the very dense mangrove forest in the country comprises 1,472 sq. km. (31.05 per cent), moderately dense mangrove spans 1,391 sq. km (29.75 per cent) and open mangroves constitute 1,877 sq. km. (39.60 per cent).

Types of Forests on the basis of Administration

  1. Reserved Forests These forests are under the direct supervision of the government and no public entry is allowed for collection of timber or grazing of cattle. About 53 per cent of the total forest area falls in this category.
  2. Protected Forests These forests are looked after by the government, but the local people are allowed to collect fuelwood/timber and graze their cattle without causing serious damage to the forests. These forests occupy about 29 per cent of the total forest area of the country.
  3. Unclassified Forests The unclassified forests are those in which there is no restriction on the cutting of trees and grazing of cattle. About 18 per cent of the total forest area of the country falls under this category
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