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List of states where forest cover increased in last 4 years

Largest Forest in India; Forest plays a major role in the lives of people by providing food, timber, gum and shelter to the wild

By Ground Report
New Update
List of states where forest cover increased in last 4 years

The 2023 State of India’s Environment report highlights that India's total forest cover has increased by a little more than 0.5% between 2017 and 2021. However, the report also cautions that this seemingly positive development has some caveats.

The report highlights that very dense forests, which are critical for carbon sequestration and absorb maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, occupy just 3% of India's total forest cover. This underscores the need for more focused conservation efforts to protect these forests and prevent their degradation.

The increase in India's forest cover is certainly a positive development. However, as you mentioned, the distribution of the increase among different types of forests is a cause for concern.

State/UTs details of Forest Cover

S. No State/UT Geo-graphical Area (GA) Total Forest Cover Scrub
1 Andhra Pradesh 1,62,968 29,784 8,276
2 Arunachal Pradesh 83,743 66,431 797
3 Assam 78,438 28,312 228
4 Bihar 94,163 7,381 236
5 Chhattisgarh 1,35,192 55,717 615
6 Delhi 1,483 195.00 0.38
7 Goa 3,702 2,244 0
8 Gujarat 1,96,244 14,926 2,828
9 Haryana 44,212 1,603 159
10 Himachal  Pradesh 55,673 15,443 322
11 Jharkhand 79,716 23,721 584
12 Karnataka 1,91,791 38,730 4,611
13 Kerala 38,852 21,253 30
14 Madhya Pradesh 3,08,252 77,493 5,457
15 Maharashtra 3,07,713 50,798 4,247
16 Manipur 22,327 16,598 1,215
17 Meghalaya 22,429 17,046 663
18 Mizoram 21,081 17,820 1
19 Nagaland 16,579 12,251 824
20 Odisha 1,55,707 52,156 4,924
21 Punjab 50,362 1,847 34
22 Rajasthan 3,42,239 16,655 4,809
23 Sikkim 7,096 3,341 296
 24 Tamil Nadu 1,30,060 26,419 758
25 Telangana 1,12,077 21,214 2,911
26 Tripura 10,486 7,722 33
27 Uttar Pradesh 2,40,928 14,818 563
28 Uttarakhand 53,483 24,305 392
29 West Bengal 88,752 16,832 156
30 A & N Islands 8,249 6,744 1
31 Chandigarh 114 22.88 0.38
32 Dadra & Nagar Haveli
and Daman & Diu
602 227.75 4.85
33 Jammu &
Kashmir
 2,22,236  21,387 284
34 Ladakh 2,272 1.35
35 Lakshadweep 30 27.10 0.00
36 Puducherry 490 53.30 0.00
Total 32,87,469 7,13,789 21.71

The fact that most of the increase has occurred in the open forest category, which includes commercial plantations, suggests that the increase may not necessarily represent a gain in biodiversity or ecosystem health.

According to the India State of Forest Report 2023, three southern states (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka) and two eastern states (Odisha and Jharkhand) have recorded the highest increase in forest area.

Largest forest in India

Covering a total area of 77, 493 km2, Madhya Pradesh holds the biggest forest area-wise in India. Here's a breakdown of the largest forest cover in India.

The Satpura forest, located in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, holds the title of the largest forest in India. With an area covering 77,493 square kilometers (30,000 sq mi), it stands as the largest contiguous forest in India. A variety of wildlife, including tigers, leopards, elephants, and bears, call the Satpura forest their home.

Several tribal communities also reside here, having traditionally relied on the forest for their livelihood. UNESCO recognizes the Satpura forest as a World Heritage Site. It serves as an important water source for the people of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh contributes to climate regulation and combats soil erosion. Let's discover some other large forests in India:

Forest Name Area (sq.km)
Sundarbans 10,000
Nagarhole 6,183
Kaziranga 1,030
Kanha 940
Gir 1,412
Bhimashankar 551
Bandipur 874
Dudhwa 1,290

State with the Largest forest in India

State Area of forest cover (in sq. km) Details
Madhya Pradesh 77,493 Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country.
Arunachal Pradesh 66,431 Arunachal Pradesh has the second-largest forest cover in India.
Chhattisgarh  55,717  Chhattisgarh ranks third in terms of forest cover in India.
Odisha  52,156  Odisha has the fourth-largest forest cover in the country.
Maharashtra  50,978  Maharashtra ranks fifth in India in terms of forest cover

States with increased forest area

State Forest area 21 Forest area 2019 Increase (in sq km)
Andhra Pradesh 29,784 29,137 647
Telangana 21,214 20,582 632
Odisha 52,156 51,619 537
Karnataka 38,730 38,575 155
Jharkhand 23,721 23,611 110

It is worth noting that these increases in forest area may not necessarily reflect a gain in natural forest cover, as some of the gains may be due to the establishment of commercial plantations or other forms of land use change.

Therefore, it is important to carefully examine the quality and composition of the forest cover to assess the ecological and conservation benefits of these changes.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has been running the Nagar Van Yojana (NVY) since 2020. This program aims to create 400 Nagar Vans and 200 Nagar Vatika across the country from 2020 to 2025. The funding for this comes from the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAMPA).

The goal of NVY is to increase green spaces in urban and suburban areas, improve biodiversity, provide ecological benefits, and enhance the quality of life for city residents. So far, the Ministry has approved 270 projects under NVY, costing a total of Rs.238.64 Crore.

Forest land diversion state-wise data

The government passed the Forest Conservation Act in 1980, and since then, they have used a lot of forest land for other purposes. This land is roughly seven times the size of Delhi. They used the most forest land for other purposes in 1990 and 2000.

On August 7, 2023, the government announced in the Lok Sabha that various entities have used a significant amount of forest land for other purposes in the last 15 years. Over the last 5 years, they have primarily used this forest land for roads and mining.

State/UT Forest Land Converted for Non-Forest Use (in hectares)
Jammu and Kashmir 450.65
Himachal Pradesh 2,512.65
Uttarakhand 3,368.89
Punjab 2,391.57
Uttar Pradesh 4,090.64
Sikkim 124.87
Chandigarh 0.46
Bihar 1,852.75
Haryana 2,161.49
Rajasthan 2,972.12
Gujarat 8,064.76
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 85.05
Delhi 2.43
Daman and Diu 18.41
Madhya Pradesh 19,730.36
Maharashtra 2,137.89
Goa 0
Assam 1,357.17
Meghalaya 33.97
Mizoram 603.75
Manipur 392.89
Tripura 1,153.65
Jharkhand 4,416.55
West Bengal 621.68
Odisha 13,304.79
Chhattisgarh 2,802.38
Telangana 3,706.52
Andhra Pradesh 1,946.61
Arunachal Pradesh 7,448.34
Andaman and Nicobar Islands -100
Total 90,001.15 (hectares)

In the last five years, users have applied 43% of all the forest land to roads and mining. Many have also used a significant amount of forest land for power lines, irrigation, defense projects, hydro projects, and railways.

People have also used a lot of forest land for things like canals, hospitals, drinking water, transforming forest villages into other types of villages, industries, fiber optic cables, pipelines, rehabilitation, schools, solar energy, thermal energy, wind energy, and village electrification.

Funds released from 2017-18 to 2022-23 for Green forest

S. No. States 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23
1 Andhra Pradesh 0.45 2.67 Nil Nil 2.02 Nil
2 Arunachal Pradesh Nil Nil Nil Nil 13.43 Nil
3 Chhattisgarh 10.95 5.36 5.04 1.66 6.12 Nil
4 Haryana Nil Nil Nil Nil 9.55 Nil
5 Himachal Pradesh Nil Nil Nil 17.09 Nil Nil
6 Jammu & Kashmir Nil Nil Nil 25.73 Nil 6.49
7 Karnataka 0.86 1.62 2.21 2.35 4.45 2.93
8 Kerala Nil Nil 16.32 Nil Nil Nil
9 Madhya Pradesh Nil 24.16 30.65 Nil 18.29 17.93
10 Maharashtra Nil 10.30   Nil Nil Nil
11 Manipur 6.42 4.89 4.16 6.74 9.93 5.45
12 Mizoram 20.00 22.36 17.71 2.99 29.86 36.27
13 Odisha 1.41 4.74 14.19 26.01 17.74 8.48
14 Punjab 6.22   3.19   3.32 2.7393
15 Sikkim Nil 3.32 3.12 2.19 7.77 6.57
16 Uttarakhand Nil Nil Nil 27.89 33.99 28.40
17 West Bengal Nil Nil 9.43 Nil Nil 0.76
Total 46.30 79.43 106.01 112.65 156.46 116.01

States use the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAMPA) to replace lost forests due to development projects, by the CAF Act 2016 and CAF Rules 2018. Plans are drafted for wildlife conservation, soil preservation, etc., to mitigate the effects of forest land diversion.

Various programs and schemes also carry out afforestation activities. These include the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the National Bamboo Mission, the Sub-Mission on Agroforestry, and others. These are run by different departments of the State Government/UT Administration, Non-Government Organizations, Civil Society, Corporate bodies, etc. These combined efforts have been successful in preserving and increasing the forest cover in the country.

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