Of the 5,871 sq km increase in the forest cover of India, West Bengal accounts for nearly 64 per cent of this rise, reveals the latest report of Forest Survey of India.
A study conducted by the Forest Survey of India that was recently published points out that West Bengal’s forest cover has increased by 3,810 sq km, which is followed by Odisha where increase in forest cover has been 1,444 km and Kerala where the increase has been about 622 sq km.
Commenting on the increase in forest cover in West Bengal, Principle Chief Conservator of Forest, West Bengal, Azam Zaidi told The Hindu that along with other steps the State’s joint forest management, which involves the participation of the local people, is one of the reasons for the increase.
“Increase in the forest cover of the State is mainly due to coppice growth (dense growth of small tress) and afforestation inside the forests, growth of commercial plantations and shade trees in tea gardens,” the FSI report states.
West Bengal, a state with high population density, has only 18.93 percent forest cover.
Depletion in north-east
Interestingly States from northeast like Nagaland, Arunanchal Pradesh, Tripura and Manipur, whose forest cover comprises over 75 percent of the State’s area, have shown a decrease in forest cover. “The current assessment shows a decrease in forest cover to the extent of 627 sq km in the north eastern region. The main reason for this is attributed to the biotic pressure and shifting cultivation in the region,” the report says.
In Andhra Pradesh, a State with 16.77 percent of its area covered by forest, there has been a decrease of 273 km of forest area. While the forest cover has decreased by 176 sq km in Madhya Pradesh and 53 km in Chhattishgarh, it has increased by 496 sq km in Jharkhand and 446 sq km in Bihar.