Forests equal to half of Delhi lost, reveals report
Going by the latest report on deforestation in India, we have lost forest area equivalent to more than half of New Delhi or as big as a tier two city between 2007 and 2009 alone.
The study conducted by a team of forestry researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore for " Current Science" journal says that massive deforestation has been masked by Forest Survey of India's afforestation data. The IISc study contradicts FSI's forest-cover figures and highlights a loss of 99,850 hectares of forests in two years.
"The 99,850 hectares lost in two years is not small because this also includes natural forests. But deforestation is masked because of afforestation and social forestry programs. Deforestation of very dense to moderately dense forests is an area of concern. There is also no distinction between plantation and forests. Our study demystifies the myth that there is no deforestation in India," said N H Ravindranath, lead author of the study 'Deforestation and forest degradation in India -implications for REDD+'.
The report also indicates annual deforestation of 63,650 hectares in 2005-07 and as much as over 1 lakh hectares in 2003-05.
Deforestation as per district wise figures in the 2011 FSI report is highest in Andhra Pradesh, where 28,100 hectares were lost in two years and in several parts of northeast. In Manipur 19,000 hectares were lost between 2007 and 2009 and 14,600 hectares in Nagaland was lost.
TOI had carried a report on January 7, 2012, 'India's forest cover falling: Study' that quoted FSI report's national deforestation estimate to be 367 sq km or 36,700 hectares between 2007 and 2009. But Ravindranath's team analysed the district level deforestation data by comparing forest cover figures for every district published in FSI reports. Deforestation figures turned out to be way higher than what FSI had quoted.
"The total deforestation figure given by FSI varies from the district-wise assessment that we have done from FSI data. The data is different because the national deforestation figures given by FSI masks deforestation in districts," Ravindranath said.