Delhi’s forest cover lost for first time in a decade

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What is the news?

The Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released the ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’.

What is India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021?

It is a biennial report released by the Forest Survey of India(FSI).

Purpose: The report provides information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock, carbon stock in India’s forests, forest fire monitoring, forest cover in tiger reserve areas, above ground estimates of biomass using SAR data & climate change hotspots in Indian forests.

In the present ISFR 2021, FSI has included a new chapter related to the assessment of forest cover in the Tiger Reserves, Corridors and Lion conservation area of India. 

Data: The report is based on the data from Indian Remote Sensing satellite data (Resourcesat-II).

Categories of Forests: The report has listed four categories of forests and the state of forest survey is based on these. They are:

Very Dense Forest (with tree canopy density of 70 per cent or above)

– Moderately Dense Forest (tree canopy density of 40 per cent or above but less than 70 per cent)

– Open Forest (tree canopy density of 10 per cent or above but less than 40 per cent)

– Scrub (tree canopy density less than 10 per cent)

What are the findings of the report with respect to Delhi?

Loss of Forest Cover: For the first time, Delhi has lost the forest cover. It has lost 0.44 sq km of forest cover since 2019. On the other hand, most other states and Union territories have shown an increase in overall forest cover. 

Improvement in Quality of Forest: The forest cover has reduced slightly, but the quality of forest has improved. The moderately dense forests have increased, and open forest systems have thinned slightly. The thinning of the forest cover can be attributed to new infrastructure projects and authorized felling of trees.

Tree Cover: The tree cover (outside the forest area) in Delhi has increased. The tree cover in Delhi went up from 129 sq km in 2019 to 147 sq km in 2021, an all-time high since 2011.

Reasons for Shrinking Forest Cover: Land use change and diversion of forests for infrastructure development are the reasons for the city’s shrinking forest cover.

Significance of Forest Cover for Delhi: Forests serve as a city’s lungs. Delhi is overwhelmed by pollution and protecting its forests is non-negotiable. Authorities must find ways and means to ensure that the loss of forest cover is not only arrested, but more green cover added in the coming years.

Source: This post is based on the articleDelhi’s forest cover lost for first time in a decade published in TOI on 13th January 2022.

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