Deforestation: A Global Threat
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, we are losing 1,30,000 square km of forest cover every day. Another study by the Center for Global Development shows that if the loss of vegetation continues unabated at this rate, forests covering an area nearly the size of India will be destroyed by 2050.
An estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of the forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The Earth loses 18.7 million acres of forests per year, which is equal to 27 soccer fields every minute, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It is estimated that 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. The above statistics just shows us the level of deforestation but we need to understand the root that causes deforestation.
A forestry expert quoted by the Natural Resources Defence Council describes clear cutting as "an ecological trauma that has no precedent in nature except for a major volcanic eruption."
The situation in India is no different. India has been trying to achieve its target of keeping 33 percent of its geographical area under forest cover for decades, but the 2017 State of Forest report shows that it is still struggling to get above 22 percent. India has seen rapid deforestation in recent years, primarily due to its focus on economic development. According to government data, 14,000 sq km of forests were cleared to accommodate 23,716 industrial projects across India over the last 30 years.
With 11% of India’s forests, Madhya Pradesh has the largest area under forest cover, followed by Arunachal Pradesh (10%) and Chhattisgarh (8%). Forests cover more than 70% of the area of the northeastern states, except Assam where it is 35%.
Of the 15,000 sq km of forest lost to encroachment, the greatest loss was reported in Madhya Pradesh, followed by Assam and Karnataka. On the other hand, states such as Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Bihar, have curtailed such encroachment.
A study carried out by the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing has predicted depletion of 9,007.14 sq km (2.94 percent) of forests in parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by 2028. The largest amount of forest cover loss was noticed in Dhemaji (1,419.99 sq km) followed by Sonitpur (825.85 sq km), Lohit in Arunachal (820.61 sq km), Tinsukia (662.28 sq km) and Lakhimpur (635.15 sq km). Of the 9,000 sq km forest cover loss prediction, Assam and Arunachal are predicted to lose around 670.55 sq km of the moist deciduous dense forest by 2028.
Nearly a third of Majuli Island has been eroded, severely threatening its 1.5 million residents. Areas in the region suffer heavy losses in property, agriculture, human life, and natural ecology.
In Guwahati, forest covers 22% of the total area whereas it should cover at least 33%. Hence Guwahati too needs to take incentives for covering the forest loss.
- Guwahati News
- World Environment Day
- Forest Cover
Image source: IUCN