Steep decline of Forest in NE despite overall growth: Forest Report 2021

India’s forest cover saw an increase of 1540 sq km since 2019 and 17 states have a forest cover of more than 33%. In addition, very dense forest cover has increased by 501 sq km. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change published India’s State Of Forest Report on 12 January 2022.

One of the key findings of the report is that there has been a reduction of forest cover in the northeastern states like Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya. These states witnessed a reduction of 1000 sq km of forest cover combined, having huge implications for the biodiversity in India.

The decline in North-Eastern forest cover is due to natural calamities like heavy rainfall and landslides. Anthropogenic activities such as agricultural and development projects too have led to a reduction of forest cover in the region. Activists, researchers, and critics have opined that the report may not give us a clear picture as commercial plants and trees of coffee, coconuts and mangos are also included while estimating the forest cover and have urged to reconsider their definition of ‘forest’.