Should we measure a country’s success -by its GDP or it’s international relations index, or it’s happiness index, or should we consider it’s green index? Did it ever bother you? Do you know the number of trees in your neighbourhood, city, and state?
Is Van Mahotsav or other tree plantation drives done by politicians, just about getting the pictures clicked for social media?
Let’s dig into the definition of forest cover first. According to the definition given by Forest Survey of India “all patches of land, with a tree canopy density of more than 10% and more than one hectare in area, irrespective of land-use, ownership, and species of trees.” Is that enough? It is similar to defining a literate person as “one who can read and write his/her name.”
According to the 2019 report, the country’s total forest cover is 712,249 square kilometres which is 21.6% for its total geographical area. A rise of only 0.13% is seen from 2017. With this rate of increase, the target of achieving 33% cover by 2030 is a distant thought.
These numbers from the report help India stand 10th in the world in terms of forest area, but few realties are not superficial and are camouflaged by attractive numerals.
The reports fall short of a few points :
- A massive amount of forest land is diverted to non- forest use.
- Poor implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006, which protects the rights of tribal communities and forest dwellers over the forest resources.
- Going by the definition, even an orchard or a small plantation comes under ‘forest’, which is not true.
- Data analyse trends at the global level; the country-specific context stays missing and is not focused upon.
- Compensatory afforestation, which is asked to be done by industrialists, is a flawed concept according to the experts as it interferes with the local area’s biodiversity.
So, in a nutshell, what we see is just the tip of the iceberg. But the situation is never so bad that it could not be tackled. So rather than mulling over the reducing forest cover, we should come up with community action.
Always remember that we are the custodians of our planet, and we need to pass a green planet to future generations. Wouldn’t you agree?