Indian State of Forest Report: 2021

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  • The report showed a continuing increase in forest cover across the country, but experts flagged some of its other aspects as causes for concern, such as a decline in forest cover in the Northeast, and degradation of natural forests.


  • GS III- Environment- Acts and Policies India, Forest cover etc. 


Forest and Tree Cover in India:

  • Forest cover is the total geographical area declared as forest by the government.
  • It refers to all lands more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10% irrespective of ownership and legal status.
  • Such lands may not necessarily be a recorded forest area.
  • It also includes orchards, bamboo, and palm.
  • Tree cover comprises of tree patches outside the recorded forest area exclusive of forest cover and less than the minimum mappable area (1 ha).
  • As of 2021, the total forest cover in India is 7,13,789 sq km, which is 21.71% of the total geographical area of the country.

Classifications of Forests:

  • Very Dense– All lands with tree canopy density of 70% (0.7 tree density) and above.
  • Moderately Dense– All lands with tree canopy density of 40% and more but less than 70% (0.4 to 0.7 tree density).
  • Open Forest– All lands with tree canopy density of 10% and more but less than 40% (0.1 to 0.4 tree density).
  • Scrub– All forest lands with poor tree growth mainly of small or stunted trees canopy density less than 10% (Less than 0.1 tree density).

Highlights of the Report:

  • India’s forest and tree cover has risen by 2,261 sq km in the last two years with Andhra Pradesh growing the maximum forest cover of 647 sq km.
  • The states that have shown the highest increase in forest cover are Telangana (3.07%), Andhra Pradesh (2.22%) and Odisha (1.04%).
  • India’s forest cover is now 7,13,789 sq km, 21.71% of the country’s geographical area, an increase from 21.67% in 2019. Tree cover has increased by 721 sq km.
  • India’s total forest and tree cover is now spread across 80.9 million hectares, which is 62% of the geographical area of the country.
  • The top five states in terms of increase in forest cover are Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km), Telangana (632 sq km), Odisha (537 sq km), Karnataka (155 sq km) and Jharkhand (110 sq km).
  • Five states in the Northeast – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland have all shown loss in forest cover.
  • Among the megacities in the country, Ahmedabad has been the biggest loser when it comes to forest cover.
  • Mangroves have shown an increase of 17 sq km. India’s total mangrove cover is now 4,992 sq km.
  • The total carbon stock in the country’s forests is estimated at 7,204 million tonnes, an increase of 79.4 million tonnes since 2019.

Tiger Reserves

  • The forest cover in tiger corridors has increased by 37.15 sq km (0.32%) between 2011-2021 but decreased by 22.6 sq km (0.04%) in tiger reserves.
  • Forest cover has increased in 20 tiger reserves in these 10 years and decreased in 32.
  • Buxa, Anamalai and Indravati reserves have shown an increase in forest cover while the highest losses have been found in Kawal, Bhadra and the Sunderbans reserves.
  • Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh has the highest forest cover, at nearly 97%.

Tribal Areas

  • The current assessment shows a decrease of 655sq km of forest cover within the Recorded Forest Area/Green Wash in the tribal districts and an increase of 600 sq km outside, compared to the previous assessment.

Hill Areas

  • The current assessment shows a decrease of 902 sq. km in 140 hill districts of the country.

North East Forest Resources

  • Forest Resources in North East( Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura, Mizoram) accounts for 23.75% of the total Forest Cover of the country
  • Practices like Jhum Cultivation causes fluctuations in the forest cover.
  • There is a decrease of 1020 sq. km of Forest Cover in the North Eastern States
  • Total forest cover in the North-Eastern region is 1,70,541 sq km, which is 65.05% of its geographical area.
  • All the States in the region show a decrease in forest cover.


  • The current assessment shows that mangrove cover in the country is 4,992 sq km, which is 0.15% of the country’s total geographical area.
  • Very Dense mangrove comprises 1475 sq km (29.55%) of the mangrove cover,
  • Moderately Dense mangrove is 1481 sq km (29.67%) while Open mangroves constitute an area of 2036 sq km (40.78%).
  • There has been a net increase of 17 sq km in the mangrove cover of the country as compared to the 2019 assessment. 
  • The top three states in terms of increase in mangrove cover are Odisha (8 sq km), Maharashtra (4 sq km) and Karnataka (3 sq km) respectively.

Bamboo Cover

  • The total bamboo bearing area of the country is estimated as 15.0 million ha. As compared to ISFR Bamboo bearing area in the country has decreased by 1.06 million ha.
  • Mizoram has shown the highest increase 1,085 sq km followed by Arunachal Pradesh 758 sq km
  • Madhya Pradesh has shown the highest decrease in the bamboo bearing area 2,473 sq km.

Forest Fire

  • Forest fires are one of the major drivers of damage caused to forests in the country.
  • Uncontrolled forest fires can lead to significant losses of forests and ecosystem services.
  • The analysis reveals that 10.66% of the forest cover of the country is Extreme to very high fire-prone.

Carbon Stock

  • Carbon stock for 2021 has been estimated at 7,204.0 million tonnes.
  • There is an increase of 79.4 million tonnes of carbon stock as compared to previous estimates.
  • Arunachal Pradesh has maximum Carbon Stock of 1029.84 million tonnes followed by Madhya Pradesh 609.25 million tonnes, Chattisgarh 496.44 million tonnes.
  • Per Hectare Carbon stock is maximum in Jammu and Kashmir 179.41 tonnes/ha followed by Himachal Pradesh 167.10 tonnes/ha.

Other Findings:

  • The report also estimates that by 2030, the Indian forests will be adversely affected by climate change and rise in temperature and forests in states except for Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland will be climate hot spots. Ladakh will also be negatively affected. 
  • The ISFR 2021 report attributed the improvement in forest cover to “better conservation measures, protection, afforestation activities, tree plantation drives and agroforestry”. 

Forest Survey of India (FSI), founded in June 1981 and headquartered at Dehradun in Uttarakhand, is a Government of India Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change organization for:

  • conducting forest surveys,
  • studying and researching to periodically monitor the changing situation of land and forest resources and
  • presentation the data for national planning, conservation and sustainable management of environmental protection and
  • the implementation of social forestry projects.

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