• A high-power committee of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) recommended that Forest Surveys should explicitly demarcate trees grown in forests from those grown outside, that is, in plantations and private lands.
• The government also includes substantial patches of trees outside areas designated as forests, such as plantations or Greenlands, in its assessment.
• Forest Surveys(the biennial exercise by the government to estimate forest cover) count both plantations and private lands towards estimating the portion of India’s geographical area covered by forest. Including both is not ecologically sound.
• Getting India to have at least 33% of its area under forest is a long-standing goal of the government since 1988.
• Various editions of the SFR have over the years reported the area under forests as hovering around 21%.
India State of Forest Report (SFR) 2017
• A marginal 0.21% rise in the area under forest between 2015 and 2017.
• India has about 7,08,273 sq. km. of forest(include Tree cover), which is 21.53% of the geographic area of the country (32,87,569 sq. km.).
• The total tree cover, according to this assessment, was 93,815 sq. km. or a 2% rise from approximately 92,500 sq. km. in 2015.
• Tree Cover improved from 2.82%(2015) to 2.95%(2017) of India’s geographic area.
Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Prelims level: Difference between Tree Cover and Forest Cover
Mains level: Issues related to the clearances of forest lands