According to Forest Survey of India (2003), the actual forest cover is 67.83 million ha. (11.88 per cent) of which only 39.05 million ha. Consisted of dense forests (Crown density 40 per cent and above) and 28.77 million ha. Are open and degraded forests (Crown density 10 to less than 40 per cent)? Due to deforestation for developmental activities, large number of indigenous species of plants (above 1000) is considered as endangered. Biodiversity conservation is not only important for India but as gene resources valuable to global humanity.
In the last 40 years, about 4.32 million ha of forestland has been lost, 7 million ha. Encroached upon and the rest subjected to shifting cultivation’. Deforestation has increased because of large-scale consumption of fuel wood. The cattle carrying capacity of forests for grazing is 90 million head against 400 million cattle population. With increase of human and livestock population, the pressure on forests is increasing rapidly. The statistics of Forest Survey of India:
The assessment in the two periods (Table 3.1) records a reduction of 0.19 million ha. Of forest cover from 1981-83 to 1985-87 the annual loss of forest cover has also decreased from 1.3 million ha. During 1981-82 to 47,500 ha.
During 1985-87 however, there has been some increase in the extent of dense forest cover. The recent satellite surveys during (2003) established the fact that India’s forest cover has gone up by more than five per cent, i.e., 20.6 per cent even for start of the standard minimum of 33 per cent as recommended in the National Forest Policy.
However, forest cover had increased in some states but declined in others. The report shows that there is a marginal decline in the forest cover in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh.
Though the total forest area is about 19 per cent, the area with dense forest is only 11.71 per cent with a ‘crown density’ of 40 per cent or more. The ‘open forest’ area with less than 40 per cent density is another 7.60 per cent.
The report also shows that out of 413 districts surveyed, only 105 districts record 30 per cent of their area covered by trees while 52 other districts have record between 19 and 33 per cent, and the rest 217 districts show only 1 to 19 per cent covered forest.
The earlier deforestation process was reversed following massive afforestation efforts. As per satellite imagery estimates, the country’s forest cover has increased at the rate of 63000 ha. Since 1989