Latest Data from Global Forest Watch Reveals India’s Tree Cover decreased by 2.33 million hectares Since 2000, equivalent to a 6% decline Over This Period.

Key findings of the report:

  • The Global Forest Watch (WFH) report utilizes satellite data and various sources to monitor forest changes in near real-time, India witnessed a loss of 414,000 hectares of humid primary forest (4.1 percent) between 2002 and 2023.
  • Which constitute 18% of its total tree cover loss during this period.
  • From 2001 to 2022, India’s forests emitted 51 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually while absorbing 141 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. 
  • This results in a net carbon sink of 89.9 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.
  • On average, 51 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent were released into the atmosphere annually due to tree cover loss in India, totaling 1.12 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted during this period.
  • Notably, 95% of tree cover loss in India from 2013 to 2023 occurred within natural forests.
  • The peak tree cover loss of 189,000 hectares was recorded in 2017, followed by 175,000 hectares in 2016 and 144,000 hectares in 2023, marking the highest levels in the past six years.
  • Five states accounted for 60% of all tree cover loss between 2001 and 2023. 
  • Assam experienced the highest tree cover loss at 324,000 hectares, exceeding the average of 66,600 hectares. 
  • Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur followed with significant losses of 312,000 hectares, 262,000 hectares, 259,000 hectares, and 240,000 hectares, respectively.
  • It’s important to note that changes have occurred in the data over time due to algorithm adjustments and improved satellite technology. 
  • From 2002 to 2022, India lost 35,900 hectares of tree cover due to fires, with the highest loss recorded in 2008 at 3,000 hectares. 
  • From 2001 to 2022, Odisha had the highest rate of tree cover loss due to fires, averaging 238 hectares per year, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, and Meghalaya.

  Global Forest Watch

  • The World Forest Resource Institute based in Washington (USA),  established ‘Global Forest Watch’ in 1997 as a part of the forest frontier initiative. 
  • Global Forest Watch (GFW) is an online platform that provides data and tools for monitoring forests. 
  • Utilizing cutting-edge technology, GFW allows anyone to access near real-time information about where and how forests are changing around the world.

Why only Tree cover is measured by GFH?

  • Since tree cover can be readily measured from space using publicly available, medium-resolution satellite images, it is a also useful indicator for tracking changes in forests. 
  • This implies that it is possible to regularly, affordably, and widely monitor the amount of tree cover.
  • On the other hand, a forest does not always result from the presence of tree cover, nor does the loss of tree cover always signify the loss of forests or deforestation.

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