State of Forest Report 2021

MOEFCC released biennial India State of Forest Report 2021.

India State of Forest Report (ISFR)

  • Forests, and by extension trees, are an essential resource for the survival of life on Earth. Evaluating the nature of forests and keeping track of their state is critical for national wealth and development, as well as the foundations of a knowledge economy.
  • Forest Survey of India (FSI), an organization of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India has been monitoring India’s forest and tree resources through periodic assessments and presenting the findings in its biennial publication ‘India State of Forest Report’ (ISFR).
  • The first State of Forest report was brought out in the year 1987. The current report, ISFR 2021 is 17th in the series. Over these years, successive reports present a continuous, comprehensive and comparative picture of India’s forest and tree resources over time.
  • The information being presented in the latest ISFR 2021 has been derived by way of complete wall to-wall mapping of the country’s forest cover using remote sensing techniques, sample plot based national forest inventory and special studies carried out at national level.
  • Three categories of forests are surveyed – Very Dense Forests (canopy density over 70%), Moderately Dense Forests (40-70%) and Open Forests (10-40%). Scrubs (canopy density less than 10%) are also surveyed but not categorised as forests.

New in ISFR 2021

  • It has assessed forest cover in tiger reserves, tiger corridors, and the Gir forest, which is home to the Asiatic lion, for the first time.

Key Terms:

  • Tree cover: It is defined as all tree patches of size less than one hectare occurring outside the recorded forest area. This covers trees in all formations including scattered trees.
  • Forest area: It denotes the legal status of the land as per the government records, whereas the term ‘forest cover’ indicates presence of trees over any land.
  • Forest carbon stock: It is the amount of carbon that has been sequestered from the atmosphere and is now stored within the forest ecosystem, mainly within living biomass and soil, and to a lesser extent also in dead wood and litter.
  • National Forest Inventory: Knowledge of Growing Stock, or the volume of all living trees is essential to understand dynamics of forest stands, their productive capacity and their sustainable management. Such information is also important in the determination of the quantum of biomass existing in the forests and for further calculation of emission factors, carbon stock assessments and related information.

Findings of the Report

Forest cover changes

  • The country’s forest and tree cover has increased by 1,540 square kilometres in the last two years.
  • India’s forest cover has increased to 7,13,789 square kilometres, accounting for 21.71 percent of the country’s land area, up from 21.67 percent in 2019.
  • Tree cover has increased by 721 sq. km.

Performance of states:

  • Biggest increases: Telangana (3.07 percent), Andhra Pradesh (2.22 percent), and Odisha (3.07 percent) have the biggest increases in forest cover (1.04 %).
  • Deterioration: Five states in the Northeast – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.
  • States with Highest Forest Area/Cover:
    • Area-wise: Madhya Pradesh > Arunachal Pradesh > Chhattisgarh > Odisha > Maharashtra.
    • Forest cover as percentage of total geographical area: Mizoram > Arunachal Pradesh > Meghalaya > Manipur > Nagaland.

Carbon Stocks

The total carbon stock in the country’s forests is estimated at 7,204 million tons, an increase of 79.4 million tons since 2019.


Mangroves have shown an increase of 17 sq km. India’s total mangrove cover is now 4,992 sq km.

Forest Prone to Fires

  • 35.46% of the forest cover is prone to forest fires. Out of this, 2.81% is extremely prone, 7.85% is very highly prone and 11.51% is highly prone.
  • By 2030, 45-64% of forests in India will experience the effects of climate change and rising temperatures.
  • Forests in all states (except Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland) will be highly vulnerable climate hot spots. Ladakh (forest cover 0.1-0.2%) is likely to be the most affected.

Bamboo Forests

Bamboo forests have grown from 13,882 million culms (stems) in 2019 to 53,336 million culms in 2021.

Forest cover in 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.
  • Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh has the highest forest cover, at nearly 97%.

Concerns from the Report

  • The area of moderately dense woods, sometimes known as “natural forests,” has shrunk by 1,582 square kilometres.
  • This reduction is at the time when there is a rise of 2,621 sq km in open forest areas which indicates that the country’s forests are deteriorating.
  • Also, scrub area has increased by 5,320 sq km – indicating the complete degradation of forests in these areas.
  • The forest cover in the region has decreased by 1,020 square kilometres overall. Although the Northeast states represent just 7.98 percent of total land area, they cover 23.75 percent of total forest cover. The decline can be linked to following factors
    • Natural: Disasters (landslides and heavy rains)
    • Anthropogenic activities: shifting agriculture, pressure of developmental activities and felling of trees.
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