Bihar is on green path. While trees are vanishing across the country, the forest cover in the state has increased marginally of late.
An increase of 41sqkm of forest cover between 2009 and 2011 might be termed as “marginal” but its significance lies in the fact that the country lost 367sqkm of forest cover in the same period.
As the entire globe celebrated International Day for Biological Diversity on Tuesday by mulling over issues of depleting forest cover and ways to prevent it, the good news has given residents of Bihar a reason to rejoice and be proud of.
According to India State of Forest Report, 2011, based on analysis of satellite data prepared by Forest Survey of India (FSI), Dehradun, the total forest cover in Bihar has increased from 6,804sqkm in 2009 to 6,845sqkm in 2011. This assumes significance because a loss of 3sqkm in total forest cover was observed in the state in the last FSI biennial survey (2007- 2009).
The present “marginal increase” of 0.3 per cent in Bihar’s forest cover is a result of an increase of 32sqkm in moderately dense forests and 9sqkm in open forests. No change was observed in the category of very dense forests since 2007 as it stands at 231sqkm. The state capital has 13sqkm of moderately dense forests and 3sqkm of open forests.
The present forest cover accounts for 7.27 per cent of total geographical area of the state.
FSI has attributed the increase in green cover in the state mainly to enhanced plantation activities in and outside the forests. The state government is now targeting to increase the forest cover to 15 per cent.
Chief conservator of forests, working plan, training and extension, S.S. Chaudhary told The Telegraph on Tuesday: “The environment and forests department will soon launch Hariyali Mission under the agricultural roadmap of the state. We will increase the total forest cover in Bihar to 15 per cent by 2017 under this mission by undertaking massive plantation programmes involving community participation.”
Experts in the fields of study concerned have appreciated the “marginal increase” in forest cover, but have asserted on further steps on the part of the government to conserve forest areas.
“The increase of 41sqkm in the forest cover is a marginal increase, but it is a good sign that the greenery is at least not depleting in the state. I also agree that this increase in forest cover is because of increased plantation activities. But I would like to mention that this increase in forest cover is not uniform in the state, rather it is only witnessed in a few districts, mainly in Muzaffarpur (21sqkm), Sitamarhi (8sqkm) and West Champaran (8sqkm). Moreover, trees are still being felled in the name of rampant urbanisation. Thus, I would like to urge the authorities to target uniform growth in the forest cover across the state,” said U.K. Singh, dean, faculty of science, Patna University.