Forest cover has declined by 22.62 sq km in 52 tiger reserves across the country and by 33.42 sq km in lion habitats in the last 10 years, a government report said on Thursday, January 13. The India State of Forests Report (ISFR) 2021 was released by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav. It stated that out of the 52 tiger reserves, there is an overall decrease in forest cover of 22.62 sq km (0.04 per cent) in the last decade,with 20 reserves showing an increasing trend ranging from 1.28 sq km to 238.80 sq km whereas 32 have registered a decline in forest cover, ranging from 0.06 sq km to 118.97 sq km.
In the case of lion habitats a decrease of 33.43 sq km of forest cover has been observed in the last 10 years, the report said. "The tiger corridor occupies an area of approximately 14 to 89.37 sq km which is 0.43 per cent of the country's geographical area. The current assessment shows that the forest cover in the tiger corridors is 11,75.12 sq km which is 1.62 per cent of the country's total forest cover," it said.
In ISFR 2021, the Forest Survey of India has included a new chapter related to the assessment of forest cover in tiger reserves, corridors and lion conservation area of India. "In this context, the decadal assessment of change in forest cover within tiger reserves, corridors and lion conservation area helps in assessing the impact of conservation measures and management interventions that have been implemented over the years.
"For decadal assessment, change in forest cover, during the period between ISFR 2011 (data period 2008 to 2009) and the current cycle (ISFR 2021, data period 2019-2020) within each tiger reserves has been analysed," the report said.
Among the 52 tiger reserves, the maximum decline between 2011-2021 in the forest cover was recorded in Kawal in Telangana by 118.97 sq km, followed by Bhadra in Karnataka by 53.09 sq km and Sunderbans in West Bengal by 40 sq km.
The tiger reserves which recorded the maximum increase in forest cover in the last decade are Buxa in West Bengal with 238.8 sq km, followed by Anamalai reserve in Tamil Nadu by 120.78 sq km and Indravati in Chhattisgarh by 64.48 sq km.
According to the analysis of forest cover in lion habitats, Gir National Park and Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat witnessed a decrease of 33.43 sq km forest cover. While Gir National Park recorded a decline of 2.20 sq km in forest cover, Gir Wildlife Sanctuary recorded a decrease of 31.23 sq km.