The International Day of Forests, a celebration of forests, provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests.

Theme for 2016: Forests and water 

Forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood.
Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Forests are responsible for India’s rich biodiversity – India is one of the 12 “megadiverse” countries in the world. Indian forests hold within them unique wildlife, flora and fauna, and are also a source of sustainable livelihoods to over 200 million people in the country. Forestry is at the centre-stage of global climate change negotiations. This is because forests have the potential to be a carbon sink as well as a source of carbon emissions.
The India State of Forest Report-2013 contains information not only on forest cover and forest inventory of the country and the change with respect to previous assessment, but also provides information on important characteristics of our forests, agroforestry and urban forestry making the report more enriched and useful.
The report said the total forest cover of the country is 69.79 million hectares or 21.23 per cent of the geographical area of the country. The tree cover is estimated to be 91,266 sq km or 9.13 million hectares, which is 2.78 per cent of the country’s geographical area. The total forest and tree cover is estimated at 24.01 per cent, according to the report. There has been an increase of 5,871 sq km of the country’s forest area since 2011, even as moderately dense forest areas have depleted due to population increase, grazing and encroachments. The majority of the increase in the forest cover has been observed in open forest category mainly outside forest areas
The maximum increase in forest cover is in West Bengal (3,810 sq km), followed by Odisha (1,444 sq km) and Kerala (622 sq km) while Nagaland, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have lost forests due to submergence, mining and shifting cultivation.
The North-eastern States account for one-fourth of the country’s forest cover and there is a net decline of 627 sq km in the forest cover compared to 2011. Mangrove cover in the country has decreased by 34 sq km. Gujarat accounted for the largest increase in mangrove cover at 45 per cent.
Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,522 sq. km. in terms of area in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh with forest cover of 67,321 sq. km. In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to total geographical area, Mizoram with 90.38 percent had the highest forest cover in terms of percentage of forest cover to Geographical area followed by Lakshadweep with 84.56 percent
The present assessment also reveals that 15 States/UTs had above 33 percent of the geographical area under forest cover. Out of these States and UTs, eight states namely Mizoram, Lakshadweep, A&N Island, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura had more than 75 percent forest cover while 7 States namely Goa, Sikkim, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Chhattisgarh and Assam had forest cover between 33% to 75%.India’s National Forest Policy 1988 aims at maintaining 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest and tree cover.


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