Five northeast states in India have the highest percentage of forest cover with reference to the total geographical area, official data shows. In terms of forest cover as a percentage of total geographical area, the top five states are Mizoram (84.53 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (79.33 per cent), Meghalaya (76 per cent), Manipur (74.34 per cent), and Nagaland (73.90 per cent), as per the India State of Forest Report 2021.

In 2019, these states were at the top five positions, however, this time they have seen a slight drop in the percentage area. During the assessment of 2019, in terms of forest cover as a percentage of total geographical area, the top five states were: Mizoram (85.41 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (79.63 per cent), Meghalaya (76.33 per cent), Manipur (75.46 per cent), and Nagaland (75.31 per cent).

The ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’ was released on Thursday by Union Minister Bhupender Yadav. It was prepared by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) which has been mandated to assess the forest and tree resources of the country since 1987.

Since 2019, when the assessment was done last, the total forest and tree cover of the country has increased by 2,261 sq km — 1,540 sq km increase in forest cover and 721 sq km in tree cover. The report stated that the total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.9 million hectare that is 24.62 per cent of the geographical area of the country. Increase in forest cover has been observed in open forest followed by very dense forest.

The total forest and tree cover of the country was 80.73 million hectare in 2019, that was 24.56 per cent of the geographical area of the country. At that time, the environment ministry said that as compared to the assessment of 2017, there is an increase of 5,188 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover of the country. Out of this, the increase in the forest cover was 3,976 sq km and that in tree cover was 1,212 sq. km.

As per the latest report, area-wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. Further, at least 17 states/UT’s have above 33 percent of the geographical area under forest cover. However, the maximum increase in forest cover has been witnessed in Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km) followed by Telangana (632 sq km) and Odisha (537 sq km). In 2019, the top three states showing increase in forest cover were: Karnataka (1,025 sq. km) followed by Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km) and Kerala (823 sq km).

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