Slight loss in country's forest cover; Kolkata sans any forests

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New Delhi, Feb 12 (UNI) There has been a loss of 728 sq km in the total forest cover of the country since 2003, and four districts, including Kolkata, are totally bereft of any forests, says the latest Forest Survey released here today.

However, very dense forests have registered slight improvement while moderately dense forests show slight decline.

Moreover, several states like Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Jharkhand have shown increase in the forest cover by plantation and better protection, says the State of Forest Report, 2005.

The Report was released by Minister of State for Forest and Environment S Regupathy.

As per the latest assessment, which is based on the satellite images of the period between October-December 2004 and January 2005, the total forest cover of the country is 67.71 million ha, which is 20.60 per cent of the total geographic area of the country.

Of this, 5.46 million hectares is very dense forest, 33.26 million hectares moderately dense and the rest 28.99 ha is open forest. In percentage terms these figures are 1.66, 10.12 and 8.82 respectively.

The Survey says that four districts had sufferred total loss of their forests. These are: Kolkata in West Bengal, Siwan and Gopal Gunj in Bihar and Fatehgarh Saheb in Punjab.

Among the states, Madhya Pradesh has the largest are a under forest with 7.6 million ha which is 11.22 per cent of the country's total forest cover. Arunachal Pradesh comes next with 10.01 per cent area under the forests, which is 8.25 per cent of the total while Chattisgrah third with 8.25 per cent of the total cover.

The North East states have nearly one-fourth(25.11 per cnet) of the country's total forest cover.

There are 0.44 million ha under mangrove cover, nearly half of which is in Sunderbans of West Bengal.

This is the 10th report of the Forest Survey of India. It marks two decades of remote sensing based forest cover assessment on a two year cycle.

The first assessment of 1987 was based on visual interpretation of satellite imagery of Landsat, a USA satellite, which had resolution of 80m.


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