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Difference Between Forest Cover and Forest Area

Difference Between Forest Cover and Forest Area


  • At present, the forest area in India is 24.16% of the total land area. However, the actual forest cover is 21.34%.
  • Of the total forest cover, very dense forests cover 2.61%, moderately dense forests account for 9.59%, while open forests stand at 9.14%.
  • For ecological balance, the forest cover should be more than one-third of the total land area. Only 15 states of India fulfill this criterion.
  • In 1988, a new forest policy was launched to bring 33% of the total area of India under forest cover, of which 80% area under hills and 20% area under plains.

Difference Between Forest Cover and Forest Area

Forest Area:

  • The area recorded as ‘forest’ in the government records is called Forest Area or Recorded Forest Area.
  • The Recorded Forest Area denotes the legal status of the land.

Forest Cover:

  • Any land which is more than one hectare in area and with a canopy density of more than 10%, irrespective of the ownership and legal status, is called Forest Cover.

The India State Forest Report, 2015

  • Among all the states and union territories in India, Mizoram has the highest forest cover in terms of percentage with 88.93% of the total area, followed by Lakshadweep.
  • The mangrove cover in India has increased following acute conservation in the Sundarbans and Bhitarkanika forest.
  • Although the total forest cover has seen an increase, around 2,510 km2 of very dense and mid-dense forests have been wiped out since 2013.
  • Top five states with maximum forest cover (in km2) are Madhya Pradesh (77,462), Arunachal Pradesh (67,248), Chhattisgarh (55,586), Maharashtra (50,628) and Orissa (50,354).
  • Top five states/union territories with maximum forest cover in percentage of their geographical area are Mizoram (88.93%), Lakshadweep (84.56%), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (81.84%), Arunachal Pradesh (80.30%) and Nagaland (78.21%).

Types of Forests on the Basis of Protection

Reserved Forests

  • A reserved forest (also called reserve forest) or a protected forest in India is the term used to accord a certain degree of protection to forest.
  • The term was first introduced in Indian Forest Act, 1927.
  • These forests are looked after by the government and no public entry is allowed for the collection of timber or grazing of cattle.
  • These forests occupy about 53% of the total forest area of the country.

Protected Forests

  • These forests are also looked after by the government, but the local people are allowed to collect fuel—wood or timber—and graze their cattle, provided they do not cause serious damage to the forests.
  • These forests occupy about 29% of the total forest area of the country.

Unclassified Forests

  • The unclassified forests are those in which there is no restriction on the cutting of trees and grazing of cattle.
  • About 18% of the total forest area of the country falls under this category. These forests can be on the private land as well.

Environment & Biodiversity

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