Mangaluru: As per the Indian State of Forest Report (ISFR) in January 2022, India’s Green Cover increased by 2,261 sq km in 2021 compared to the previous assessment in 2019, with ‘forests’ and ‘trees outside recorded areas’ together recording an increase of 2,261 sq km. The report shows that the green cover has now reached 8,09,537 sqkm and the overall forest cover has recorded an increase of 1.540 sqkm while the tree cover increased by 721 sqkm.
Releasing the report, Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav urged the governments to give focus on increasing the forest cover. He noted that over 17 stated/ UTs have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover.
In the list, Karnataka has been ranked fourth (with 115 sqkm) in terms of green cover. This means the forest area is about 22.61 per cent of the State’s geographical area. The report also stated that Karnataka is top among three that has also shown an increase in mangrove cover of over 3 sqkm. Other states which are doing well in terms of forest gain include Andhra Pradesh (647 sqkm), Telangana (632 sqkm), Odisha (537 sqkm) and Jharkhand (110 sqkm).
It can be recalled that Karnataka topped the list of states that have seen considerable gain in forest cover in ISFR 2019 report. The State added 1,205 sqkm of forest cover than the other states; Andhra Pradesh (990 square kilometres), Kerala (823 square kilometres), and Jammu & Kashmir (823 square kilometres).
In 2021, Forest Minister Umesh Katti informed that the Karnataka Forest Department has been taking measures to increase the green cover in the State. He said that the Government is committed to increase forest cover from 20.11 per cent to 30 per cent. However, according to the IFSR 2021 report, Karnataka only managed to make green cover of 22.11 per cent of the State’s geographical area, which is less than the global requirement of at least 33 per cent and the national average of 23.6 per cent.
The ISFR 2021 report released in January 2022 also stated that the State lost 54 sqkm moderately dense forest area. Following this, in 2022, the Union Environment Ministry directed the Karnataka’s Additional Chief Secretary (Forest, Ecology, and Environment) to take the required steps to address the issue of land being removed from the considered forest list in different categories.
During a meeting to review the progress in Budget implementation of the Forest & Ecology Department, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on May said that the State Government will come up with action plan to tackle the loss in forests and increase green cover. He also mentioned that the green cover in few districts were below 10 per cent.
Despite the considerable increase (as per ISFR 2021 report) in green cover, Karnataka is short of 3 per cent in national green cover.
The report also details the forest coverage assessment in Tiger reserves, Tiger corridor areas, and Lion conservation areas in seven major cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, and Kolkata, for the first time. Bengaluru is ranked third, with Delhi taking first place and Mumbai coming in second.