Despite ban on green felling in Himachal, no major increase in tree cover


By: ML Verma

Shimla (May 6): Despite strict rules and ban on green felling, forest cover in Himachal showed just a slight increase of 2 square kilometers between the years 2007 and 2009.

According to Indian State Report of Forest Survey of India (FSI), the increase in forest cover in Himachal has not shown significant change and it can at best be termed stable as compared to other states of India. Director, FSI, Northern Region, Ranjeet Singh, said the detailed report of forest cover of the country is prepared every two years, which is further used in national planning.

“Himachal witnessed a marginal increase in its green cover in the period 2007 to 2009,” said Ranjeet. Citing reasons for this negligible increase, he said no single factor is responsible for this, as it may be illicit felling, cattle movement, or diversion of forest land into commercial. “There may be numerous factors behind the stagnation of green cover and we can’t attribute only one reason for it,” said Ranjit.

After the revelation made by FSI report it seems that various schemes run by state government to increase green cover are proving ineffective. Rising number of industrial units in past few years and execution of hydroelectric power projects and transmission lines being laid in various parts of the state have also affected the forest cover of the state.

It is to be noted that total forest cover of Himachal Pradesh in 2007 was 37,033 square kilometer but the area above tree line was not excluded from the forest cover, hence it was 27 per cent of the total geographical area. Tree line is the altitude mostly at 4,000 meters, above which big trees can’t grow.

In 2009 the criteria was changed to calculate the forest cover and areas above 4,000 meters were excluded due to which percentage of forest cover out of the total geographical area become 66.52 PC but the area of forest cover in terms of square kilometers remained same.

Next report of FSI is likely to be released in the month of October this year, which will further reveal the condition of green cover in Himachal Pradesh. Senior staff functionaries revealed that FSI has adopted some unique features to evaluate green carpet of the country and the state.

Carbon deposits would be used in evaluation of forests for the first time, while field staff of FSI and with the help of forest department would also check the health of soil and forests. “Carbon deposits have become an important part of evaluating our forest wealth since the worldwide concept of carbon deposit and carbon credits came into being in recent times,” said Ranjeet.

Referring to the survey of 2009, he said about 3.6 billion cubic meter carbon was deposited in the forest and TOF (tree out of forest) in India.

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