The total area of the forests of the world was about 7000 M/ha in the year 1900 which reduced to only 2890 M/ha by the year 1975 and if this be the situation, the forest cover will be reduced to a significant level by the end of 2015. It has been found major reduction in forests cover took place in tropics and subtropics. In the tropic and subtropics maximum reduction would be about 50% in Asia and the Pacific.
Among 16 different forest types of the country, the most common is the tropical dry deciduous followed by tropical moist deciduous type. Combined together, these contribute to about 70%.
There are no reliable statistics of forests cover. According to Central Forestry Commission the forests cover is only 22.7% of the total land mass. Among the total forests cover under, nearly 96% is Government owned, 2.6% by corporate bodies and the rest is in private ownership.
India is one of the 10 mega diversity countries, commanding 9% of the world’s biodiversity and supporting 17.5% of the major forest types, varying from alpine pastures in the Himalayas to temperate sub-tropical, tropical forests and mangroves in the coastal areas. But nearly half of the country’s area is degraded, affected by problems of soil degradation and erosion.
Sixty per cent forests are located in ecologically sensitive zones. These forests need to be managed in a way to ensure that they are ecologically protected and maintained, as well as sustained at the highest productivity level to meet the growing population’s burgeoning demands for fuel, food, fodder and timber.
India has a large and diverse forest resource. Its forest types vary from tropical rainforest in the north-east, to desert and thorn forests in Gujarat and Rajasthan; mangrove forests in West Bengal, Orissa and other coastal areas; and dry alpine forests in the western Himalaya. The most common forest types are tropical moist deciduous forests, tropical dry deciduous forests, and wet tropical evergreen forests.
According to the Forest Survey of 2007, the country has 86.5 million ha of forest. The degraded area was 36.13 million ha and there was another 15.72 million ha scrub; thus, in total 41.85 million ha of forests were degraded or open.