Forest cover on the decline in Meghalaya, rest of N-E

Disclosure in biannual Forest Survey of India Report, 2011

From Our Special Correspondent

 New Delhi: In a shocking disclosure it has been revealed that the country’s forest cover is decreasing and the maximum loss is being reported from the Northeastern states including Meghalaya once considered to be the last vestige of hope as far as tree cover is concerned.

India’s forest cover has declined by 367 sq km between 2007 and 2009, the yet to be released biannual Forest Survey of India Report, 2011 said. The largest dip in forest cover was evident in the Northeast which has lost 550 sq km.

Maximum reduction in forest cover has been reported from insurgency-hit Manipur, totaling 190 sq km. Nagaland comes next with at least 146 sq km forest being lost between 2006 and 2008. The trend is equally worrying in Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, the report said.

There was better news from states like Punjab, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan where social forestry projects seem to have worked to some extent.

The last FSI report in 2009 showed forest cover in the northeast had increased from 1,69,825 sq km in 2005 to 1,70,423 sq km in 2007, an annual increase of 299 sq km over two years. Jhum cultivation and organized wood smugglers and mafia are stated to be reasons for such massive loss in the Northeastern region.

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