What is ISFR 2019?
India State of Forest Report (ISFR) is Biennial report published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) which has been mandated to assess the forest and tree resources of the country including wall-to-wall forest cover mapping in a biennial cycle. Starting 1987, 16 assessment have been completed so far. ISFR 2019 is the 16th report in the series.
What are the major findings of the report?
According to ISFR 2019 the total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.73 million hectare which is 24.56 percent of the geographical area of the country.
Total forest cover of India in 2019 is 21.67 per cent of the total geographical area (TGA) of the country as against 21.54 per cent (of TGA) in 2017
Compared to the assessment of 2017, forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, bamboo bearing area, carbon stock all increased in ISFR 2019. There are 62,466 wetlands (of more than 1 ha) covering 3.8% of the area within the RFA/GW of the country.
What is methodology used in ISFR 2019?
ISFR 2019 is the 16th report in the series. In tune with the Government of India’s vision of Digital India, FSI’s assessment is largely based on digital data whether it is satellite data, vector boundaries of districts or data processing of field measurements.
The report provides information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock inside and outside the forest areas, carbon stock in India’s forests, Forest Types and Biodiversity, Forest Fire monitoring and forest cover in different slopes & altitudes. Special thematic information on forest cover such as hill, tribal districts, and north eastern region has also been given separately in the report.
What are worrisome aspects of reports?
*Dense forests are defined by canopy cover:
Over 70 percent is considered very dense forest and 40-70 percent moderately dense forests. More than 10% canopy is considered as open forests.
Plantations-are they forests?
Plantation are monocultures and in terms of their ecological services and biodiversity support they lag far behind natural forests.
Plantations cause land and soil degradation. Thus, Tree plantations are not forests. They are a monoculture which causes huge impacts throughout the world. Plantations are a huge number of very rapidly growing single species of trees of the same age that are sawn to occupy considerable land areas, with very high consumption of soil nutrients and water. When they reach their reproductive cycle, they are all cut down to the ground. Plantations are uniform agricultural systems which replace in many cases natural ecosystems or Agro-ecological systems which are richer in terms of biological and cultural diversity, and where many peasant and indigenous communities live.
Plantations are pursued for the production of cellulose pulp to produce paper, timber, oils and agrofuels. Plantations are not as biologically and socially rich as forests; on the contrary, they cause serious negative impacts: displacement of entire communities, violation to the rights of the Peoples, decay of local culture, generalized violence and pesticides contamination, loss of biological diversity and alteration of hydrological cycles. Besides, these impacts are most detrimental to women.
However, there is a strong tendency towards the expansion of tree, oil palm and soybean monocultures in the whole world. According to information provided by FAO, by 2030, the global area occupied by tree plantations will increase by 30%. Markets for cellulose pulp and products produced from palm oil are constantly growing, at a rate that is expected to be increasing as a result of the growing demand for agrofuels.
This mis-definition of plantation as forests seriously harms real forests and forest peoples as it justifies the clearance of real forests and their replacement with cash crops of trees.