Meghalaya forest cover dips by 27.21 sq km

SHILLONG/NEW DELHI: The forest cover in Meghalaya has decreased by 27.21 sq km as compared to the previous assessment, said the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2019.
The report was released by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi on Monday.
Meghalaya, which is a forest-rich state, has 488.98 sq km under Very Dense Forest (VDF), 9,267.29 sq km under Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) and 7,362.52 sq km under Open Forest (OF), the report said. Being a predominantly tribal state, lives of rural people are significantly dependent on forests in socio-economic and socio-cultural contexts.
The forest cover in the state is 17,118.79 sq km, which is 76.32 per cent of the state’s geographical area.
District-wise forest cover
According to the 2019 assessment, in East Khasi Hills, out of the total Geographical Area (GA) of 2,748 square km, the ISFR has categorised 19.39 sq km as VDF, 969.24 sq km as MDF and 723.56 sq km as OF.
In West Khasi Hills, VDF sums up to 110.80 sq km, while MDF and OF cover 2,415.31 and 1,354.88 sq km of the total GA 5,247 sq km, respectively.
In West Garo Hills, VDF is nil, MDF is 1260.41 sq km and OF is 1599.81 sq km of the 3677 sq km total GA.
In Ri Bhoi, VDF is the highest among the other districts, covering 127.36 sq km of the 2448 sq km GA, while MDF and OF cover 1097.30 and 912.68 sq km, respectively. In South Garo Hills, the total GA is 1887 sq km, of which VDF covers 65.39 sq km, MDF covers 990.45 sq km and OF covers 646.36 sq km.
In Jaintia Hills, VDF covers 103.31 sq km, which is the second highest in the state, MDF covers 1448.69 sq km and OF cover is 985.89 sq km of the total GA of the district, which is 3819 sq km. Lastly, in East Garo Hills, VDF is 62.73 sq km of the total GA which is 2603 sq km, and MDF and OF covers are 1085.89 and 1139.34 sq km, respectively.
Unlike other states, forests in Meghalaya are largely under the community and private ownership. Only 1,113 sq km of forests, in reserved forests, protected forests, national parks and sanctuaries are under the direct control of the state Forest department. Community and private forests are under the administrative control of the three Autonomies District Councils.
The extent of forest area diverted for non-forestry purposes under the FC Act, 1980 in the last five years i.e. from 2014-15 to 2018-19 is 178.7 ha, the report informed. The state forest department has raised 2,982 ha of plantations in the same period. Meanwhile, the total tree and forest cover in the country increased by 5,188 square kilometer in the last two years, but the same has decreased all over Northeast barring Assam and Tripura.
“This report gives us confidence that we are on track to achieve our Paris Agreement goals,” the union minister Javadekar said. He also said that the current assessment shows a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 765 sq km (0.45 per cent) in North East.
Except Assam and Tripura, all states in the region show decrease in forest cover. Total forest cover in the Northeastern region is 1,70,541 sq km, which is 65.05 per cent of its geographical area.
The current assessment shows a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 765 sq km (0.45 per cent) in the region,” states the report.
Top three states showing an increase in forest cover happen to be Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala. But North East, which is considered as carbon sink of the country, lost much of its forest cover.

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