FOREST COVER-UP
India Today|February 07, 2022
ISFR 2021
Rahul Noronha

In a country where the environment versus development debate plays on loop, the biennial India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021, released by the Union minister for environment, forests and climate change Bhupendra Yadav on January 13, should have been cause for much cheer. Going by its content, India has increased its forest cover by 1,540 sq. km over the previous assessment in 2019. “The focus of the Narendra Modi government is not just to conserve the forests quantitatively but to enrich them qualitatively,” said an upbeat Yadav, while releasing the report.

But look between the covers of the report, the 17th edition of the exercise, and you find some deft green jugglery. Broadly, India’s forest and tree cover is 809,000 sq. km or 24.62 per cent of the country’s geographical area. A third of the net 1,540 sq. km increase in forest cover comes from a 501 sq. km addition to the very dense forests (VDF) or the best ‘quality’ forests even as the moderately dense forests (MDF) sees a decline of 1,582 sq. km and the open forests (OF) boast an addition of 2,621 sq. kms over the past two years. The report includes, for the first time, the status of forests in tiger reserves, tiger corridors and lion conservation areas.

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