India has added 6,778 sq km of forest area -- an increase of 0.21 per cent -- between 2015 and 2017 despite population and livestock pressures, according to a government report released in New Delhi on Monday.
The India State Forest Report-2017 unveiled by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan says the country stands 10th in the world in terms of forest area and eighth in terms of annual forest gain.
"The total forest cover of the county is 708,273 sq km, which is 21.54 per cent of India's geographical area. The tree cover of the country is estimated to be 93,815 sq km, which is 2.85 per cent," said the biennial report, 15th in the series.
The Minister said the news was good because it reverses the trend of decreasing forest cover the world over.
"The global trend is decreasing while in India the forest land is increasing. The good thing is that even if we talk of global ranking, the population density of top nine countries ahead of India in terms of forest cover is about 150 while for India it is 350.
"This means, we are doing good in terms of preservation and expansion despite pressure of population and livestock," he said.
The report said the country of nearly 1.3 billion people has also added 1,243 sq km of tree cover since 2015.
Andhra Pradesh, with 2,141 sq km increase in total forest and tree cover, is at the top, followed by Karnataka (1,101 sq km) and Kerala (1,043 sq km).
Very dense forests have expanded to 98,158 sq km in 2017 from 88,633 sq km in 2015.
However, on the darker side, 12 states and Union territories have seen a dip in their forest cover.
These include Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and six naturally rich states in northeast -- Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura.