Explained: Tree cover, forest cover – How are the two different?

• The Economic Survey of Delhi 2018-19, released last week, states that the capital’s forest cover has increased from 12.72% of its geographical area in 2015 to 12.97% in 2017, while its tree cover has increased from 7.48% to 7.62%.

• The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change defines ‘forest cover’ in India as “all lands, more than one hectare in area with a tree canopy density of more than 10%”, and ‘tree cover’ as “tree patches outside recorded forest areas exclusive of forest cover and less than the minimum mappable area of one hectare”.

• Between these two is a third measure, called ‘trees outside forest’, or TOF.

About the ‘India State of Forest Report 2017’
• The ‘India State of Forest Report 2017’ defines TOF as “trees existing outside the recorded forest area in the form of block, linear and scattered size of patches”.

• Since tree cover measures only non-forest patches that are less than 1 hectare, it is only a part of TOF.

• The India Report, as well as the Delhi Survey, cite state-wise figures, which show that Goa has the highest tree cover as a percentage of geographical area, at 8.73%, followed by Delhi and Kerala, both at 7.62%.

• Forest cover highs are in Lakshadweep (90.33%) and Mizoram (86.27%). India has 93,815 hectares, or 2.85% of its area, under tree cover, and 7.08 lakh ha (21.54%) under forest cover.

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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

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