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Assam greener, but still a long way to be a green State

GMCH

World Environment Day

NE loses 630 sq km in forest cover in two years; despite showing an increase of 567 sq km in forest cover in 2017 when compared with the forest cover of the State in 2015, Assam cannot be termed a green State as a number of districts in the State have shown marked shrinking of their respective forest covers

GUWAHATI, June 4: A comparatively greener Assam is set to celebrate the World Environment Day on Tuesday with its uneven greenery, a feature that robs the State of the tag ‘green’. Thus despite greenery Assam is not a ‘green state’.

The latest survey report of forest cover is a mixed blessing for Assam even as the situation is not that for the other six States in the region, barring Manipur. The region as a whole has registered a marked fall of 630 sq km in forest cover in just two years.

Barring Assam and Manipur, the other six States in the Northeast have registered marked decrease in their respective forest covers when compared with the 2015 situation. Despite showing an increase of 567 sq km in forest cover in 2017 when compared with the forest cover of the State in 2015, Assam cannot be termed a green State as a number of districts in the State have shown marked shrinking of their respective forest covers.

According to the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017, the total forest cover in the eight States of Northeast India is 1,71,306 sq km against 1,71,936 sq km in ISFR 2015. Thus the forest cover in the region has a marked fall of 630 sq km from 2015 to 2017. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has made this information available based on the report published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), Dehradun recently. According to the survey report, the total forest cover in the Northeast is 1,71,306 sq km, which is 65.43 per cent of the total geographical area of the region.

The total forest cover in Arunachal Pradesh, according to the ISFR 2017, is 66,964 sq km against 65,154 sq km in ISFR 2015, registering a fall by 190 sq km.

The total forest cover in Manipur, according to ISFR 2017 is 17,346 sq km against 17,083 sq km according to ISFR 2015. The State has registered an increase of 263 sq km in its forest cover from 2015 to 2017.

Meghalaya has also registered a decrease of 116 sq km forest cover that fell to 17,146 sq km in 2017 against 17,262 sq km in 2015.

Likewise, Mizoram has registered a fall of 531 sq km in its forest cover (18,717 sq km in 2015 and 18,186 sq km in 2017), Nagaland has registered a fall of 450 sq km forest cover (12,939 sq km in 2015 and 12,489 sq km in 2017), Sikkim registered a fall of 9 sq km in its forest cover (3,353 sq km in 2015 and 3,344 sq km in 2017), and Tripura registered a fall of 164 sq km in its forest cover (7,890 sq km in 2015 and 7,726 sq km in 2017).

The fall in forest cover in the region is attributed to shifting cultivation and biotic pressure prevalent in the region. In the case of Assam, the increase in green cover in the State is attributed to plantation drives. The total forest cover in the State in 2017 is 28,105 sq km against 27,538 sq km in 2015, and the increase in green cover during the two years is 567 sq km.
However, a number of districts in the State have registered marked fall in their respective forest covers from 2015 to 2017. While Hailakandi has registered a fall by two sq km in forest cover, Karimganj has shown a fall by one sq km, Kokrajhar by 44 sq km, Sivasagar by 11 sq km, Dima Hasao by 45 sq km, Goalpara by 21 sq km, and Cachar by five sq km. The fall in forest cover in these districts is attributed to rotational felling of trees in tea gardens and shifting cultivation, apart from development activities.