As per India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 released by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on February 12, 2018, tree and forest cover in India increased by 8021 sq km (by 1%) in two years since 2015.

Highlights of India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017:

As per ISFR 2017, total forest cover in India is 708273 sq km, which is 21.54 per cent of the total geographical area.

India's forest, tree cover up by 1 % in 2 years - ISFR 2017

  • Forest and tree cover combined is 802088 sq km (24.39 per cent of the total geographical area).
  • Increase in the forest cover has been observed as 6,778 sq km and that of tree cover as 1,243 sq km, compared to the previous assessment in 2015.
  • Much of the increase in forest cover has been observed in very dense forest (VDF) category. From an environmental standpoint, this is a positive sign as VDF category absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • In terms of area, Madhya Pradesh (77414 sq km) has the largest forest cover among all Indian states and Union Territories.
  • In terms of forest cover as percentage of total geographical area, Lakshadweep has topped with 90.33 per cent geographical areas under forest cover. 
  • Mizoram (531 sq km), Nagaland (450 sq km), Arunachal Pradesh (190 sq km), Tripura (164 sq km) and Meghalaya (116 sq km) are the five states where forest cover has decreased most. Shifting cultivation, diversion of forest lands for developmental activities and agriculture expansion have been identified as main reasons for decrease in forest cover in these states.
  • The report has outlined that currently, 15 states and union territories (UTs) have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover.
  • It is to be noted that ISFR is released every two years. ISFR 2017 has been prepared by physically surveying 18000 points with the help of scientific tools.

Top five states where maximum forest cover has increased since 2015:

Andhra Pradesh2141 sq kms
Karnataka1101 sq kms
Kerala1043 sq kms
Odisha885 sq kms
Telangana565 sq kms