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North East India lost 1,020 sq. km. of Forest In 2020-2021

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The Ministry of Environment (MoEFCC) released the India State of Forests Report (ISFR) 2021 on 13th January 2022 . It states that the north-eastern states have a total forest cover of 1,69,521 square km. , out of the state’s total geographical area of 2,62,179 sq. km. , that makes up 7.98%  of the country’s geographical area. The eight north eastern states have a  forest cover that adds about  23.75 % to the total forest cover of the country.

Arunachal Pradesh lost most of its forest cover of 257 sq. km. , Meghalaya lost 249 sq. km. , Nagaland 235 sq. km. , Mizoram 186 sq. km. , Meghalaya 73 sq. km. , Assam15 sq. km. , Tripura 4 sq km and Sikkim lost nearly 1 sq. km. of its forest cover. That makes up almost 1,020 sq. km. of tree cover loss.

As per ISFR the loss of tree covers are attributed to shifting cultivation, where forest land is converted into temporary agricultural land and the fields are cultivated for a short time and are abandoned after cultivation. The numbers are worrying because India’s northeastern region is one of the 17 biodiversity hotspots declared in the world.

Even with that, the North East along with Andaman and Nicobar Islands is considered by the current government for the National Mission on Edible Oils, Oil Palm production. This move was made to reduce the costs of heavy palm oil imports.

Many believe that the numbers by ISFR aren’t representing the actual situation on ground. The techniques used for the forest survey have loopholes and plantations, man made gardens or even invasive species might also be considered as forest.

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