More than 34 square kms of forest cover in the state has increased in the two-year period between 2011-13, reveals the latest biannual report from Forest Survey of India (FSI), a body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), that makes assessment of the country’s forest and tree resources periodically using remote sensing technology.
This increase in forest cover in Gujarat has been due to an increase in “Open Forest” area, where the canopy density is between 10-40 per cent. The area occupied by Open Forests in Gujarat is currently over 9,057 sq kms, up from 9012 sq kms in 2011.
The FSI data shows that the Very Dense Forest (with canopy density of 70 per cent and above) area witnessed no change at 376 sq km in the state, while the area of Moderately Dense Forest (canopy density between 40-70 per cent) dipped by 11 sq km and stood at 5220 sq km in 2013.
“Most of the forest cover that we are have seen increasing is largely in the eastern tribal belt. We have also been attending to the open forest areas where several plantations have been made,” said Rajeeva, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) in Gujarat. The official is yet to go through the FSI report released a few days ago.
The forest cover in tribal area of Gujarat also increased by five square kms to 395 sq km as per the FSI report. The total forest cover in Gujarat is 14,653 sq km which is just seven per cent of the total geographical area of the state. “The change in forest cover is attributed to conservation efforts and afforestation within and outside the recorded forest areas,” states the FSI report.
There has been an increase in 5,871 sq km of forest cover at the national level between 2011-13. Two states, West Bengal and Orissa, have contributed to an increase of 3,810 sq km and 1,444 sq km, respectively. Other states where significant increase has been observed are Kerala (622 sq km), Jharkhand (496 sq km), Bihar (446 sq km), Tamil Nadu (219 sq km) and Gujarat (34 sq km).
Meanwhile, states like Nagaland (274 sq km), Andhra Pradesh (273 sq km), Madhya Pradesh (178 sq km), Tripura (111 sq km), Manipur (100 sq km), Arunachal Pradesh (89 sq km), Mizoram (63 sq km), Karnataka (62 sq km), Chattisgarh (53 sq km) have shown considerable dip in forest cover.
As far as mangroves are concerned, Gujarat saw its cover increase by 45 square kms between 2011-13, with Navsari (11 sq km) and Kutch (11 sq km) contributing most to the increase. The only district that recorded a decrease in mangrove cover is Bhavnagar that lost about eight square kms. Kutch with 789 sq kms has the maximum mangrove cover in Gujarat, followed by Jamnagar (167 sq km) and Bharuch (44 sq km).