India’s total forest and tree cover stood at 80.73 million hectare, which is 24.56 per cent of the geographical area of the country, Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment and Forests (MoEF), said on Monday.

In previous 2017 assessment, it was 21.54 per cent.

The assessment is largely based on digital data – satellite, vector boundaries of districts or data processing of field measurements.

Satellite data for the entire country was procured from the NRSC for the period October 2017-February 2018.

The satellite data interpretation is followed by rigorous “ground truthing”. Information from other collateral sources are also used to improve the accuracy of the interpreted image.

Javadekar further said that as compared to the assessment of 2017, there is an increase of 5,188 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover of the country.

Karnataka tops

“Out of this, the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 3,976 sq km and that in tree cover is 1,212 sq. km, range increase in forest cover has been observed in open forest followed by very dense forest and moderately dense forest and the top three States showing increase in forest cover are Karnataka (1,025 sq. km) followed by Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km) and Kerala (823 sq km)”, said the Minister.

Area-wise, Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. In terms of forest cover as percentage of total geographical area, the top five States are Mizoram (85.41 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (79.63 per cent), Meghalaya (76.33 per cent), Manipur (75.46 per cent) and Nagaland (75.31 per cent).

Under the current assessment the total carbon stock in country’s forest is estimated at 7,124.6 million tonnes and there is an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock as compared to the last assessment of 2017.

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