According to the India State of Forest Report (ISFR 2019), the country has increased forest and tree cover by a total of 5,188 square kilometers since 2017, including an increase of 3,976 sq. km (0.56 percent) of forest cover and 1,212 sq. km (1.29 percent) of tree cover.
The ISFR was prepared by the Forest Survey of India (FSI).
As per the report, released by Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi on Monday, the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala topped in terms of generating forest cover in 2019.
Karnataka grew the maximum forest -and-tree cover at 1,025 sq km, while forest cover in Andhra Pradesh grew 990-sq. km and in Kerala it grew a 823-sq. km in the last two years.
Jammu and Kashmir with 371-sq. km, and Himachal Pradesh with 334-sq. km ranked fourth and fifth respectively.
"Forest cover in the hill districts of the country is 2,84,006 sq. km, which is 40.30 percent of the total geographical area of these districts. The current assessment shows an increase of 544 sq. km (0.19 per cent) in 140 hill districts of the country," the report said.
In total, India’s total forest cover was 712,249 sq km (21.67 percent) of the geographical area of the country as as against 21.54 per cent in 2017.
In terms of forest canopy density classes, the state has 4,501 sqkm under Very Dense Forest (VDF), 21,048 sqkm under Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) and 13,026 sqkm under Open Forest (OF).
On the contrary, the Northeast region – which accounts for nearly one fourth of the country’s forest cover and is among 17 biodiversity hotspots of the world - witnessed a decline of around 765 sq km (0.45 percent) in its forest cover.
According to the report, the region has lost nearly 25,012 sq km of cover in the last ten years.
Manipur topped the list with a loss of 499 sq km, while Arunachal Pradesh ranked second with a loss of 276 sq km.
Forest cover in Mizoram decreased by 180 sq km, while in Meghalaya it was 27 sq km.
Similarly, Nagaland witnessed a decrease of 3 sq km, while Sikkim saw a decrease of 2 sq km.
Among the Northeast states, only Assam witnessed a growth of 222 sq km in its forest cover as compared to 2017.
“The slash and burn practice of agriculture is mainly responsible for fluctuation in the forest cover of this region”, the report said.Similarly, Madhya Pradesh had the largest forest cover area in India followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
The top five states which have forest cover as per percentage of total geographical area were Mizoram (85 percent), Arunachal Pradesh (79 percent), Meghalaya (76 percent), Manipur (75.4 percent) and Nagaland (75.3 percent).