forest in india
Indian forestWikimedia commons

India's carbon sink has increased with the rise in forest and tree cover by 5,081 sq km between 2013 and 2015, says the India State of Forest report by the Forest Survey of India.

India's national policy is to keep one-third of the land area under forest and tree cover.

Even as the climate talks between 195 nations in Paris continue, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar released the report on Friday in a celebratory mood.

The forest cover has increased to 21.34%, with very dense forest accounting for 2.61%, moderately dense forest accounting for 9.59% and open forest standing at 9.14%.

Mizoram has the highest forest cover at 88.93% of its total geographical area, followed by Lakshadweep.

Delhi, the capital, has seen a slight increase in forest cover, while Tamil Nadu has gained the most forest cover since 2013 and Mizoram has lost the most.

Tree cover has increased by 1,306 sq km, making it a total of 92,572 sq km, or 2.82%.

Northeastern states have seen a decline in forest cover except for Manipur.

The mangrove cover has increased by 112 sq km.

Mangrove
Mangrove forestWikimedia commons

Only nine forest patches measuring over 10,000 hectares remain in the country.

Dr Anmol Kumar, Director General of the Forest Survey of India, said: "The nine forest patches constitute 39.84% of India's total forest cover. Another 13% area is covered by forest patches measuring 5,000-10,000 hectares. Overall, this means 79% of the total forest area in the country is covered by uninterrupted patches of at least 11 sq km. This is very good news, showing forest size is not decreasing and it is also a great challenge to maintain this."

The Economic Times quoted him as saying: "India has set a target to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes carbon dioxide-equivalent in forests in its INDCs for the ongoing COP 21 meeting in Paris. It appears very possible to meet this target through strong afforestation measures, use of alternative fuels and sustainable forest management practices."

The data has been taken by satellite, which makes sure every tree is accounted for, said Javadekar.

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