India’s forest and tree cover has increased by 5, 081 sq km and the country has created a carbon sink — a natural system that absorbs carbon dioxide — of 37 crore tonnes of CO2 equivalent over the last two years, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has said.

“The increase in the carbon stock is an assurance to the negotiators at COP 21 that India remains committed to increasing the carbon sink. The increase in the carbon stock is in line with the INDC targets. We will achieve more than our target,” Javadekar told the media after releasing the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2015 on Friday.

The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) of India submitted to the United Nations and being discussed at the climate meet in Paris (COP 21) envisages creation of additional carbon sink of 2.5 billion to 3 billion tonnes of CO2. “Although pollution is increasing, the good news is that our forest cover and capacity to absorb carbon dioxide is also increasing,” the Minister said.

Complimenting the States for the increase in forest cover of the country, Javadekar said that the Government is committed to take necessary steps to ensure that the forest cover goes up from 24 per cent to 33 per cent of the total geographical area.

While the total forest cover of the country has increased by 3, 775 sq km, the tree cover has gone up by 1, 306 sq km, according to ISFR 2015. The total forest and tree cover is 79.42 million hectare, which is 24.16 percent of the total geographical area.