From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Definition of Forests
Mains level : Not Much
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has informed about the criteria used to define forest in India.
Defining Forests universally
- As per the Conference of Parties (CoP) 9-Kyoto Protocol, the forest can be defined by any country depending upon the capacities and capabilities of the country.
- Forest- Forest is defined structurally on the basis of
- Crown cover percentage: Tree crown cover- 10 to 30% (India 10%)
- Minimum area of stand: area between 0.05 and 1 hectare (India 1.0 hectare) and
- Minimum height of trees: Potential to reach a minimum height at maturity in situ of 2 to 5 m (India 2m)
India’s definition of Forests
The definition of forest cover has clearly been defined in all the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) and in all the International communications of India.
- The forest cover is defined as ‘all land, more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10 percent irrespective of ownership and legal status.
- Such land may not necessarily be a recorded forest area. It also includes orchards, bamboo and palm’.
Classification of forest cover
In ISFR 2021 recently published has divided the forest cover as:
- Inside Recorded Forest Area: These are basically natural forests and plantations of Forest Department.
- Outside Recorded Forest Area: These cover mango orchards, coconut plantations, block plantations of agroforestry.
Back2Basics: Forest Classification in India
The Forest Survey of India (FSI) classifies forest cover in 4 classes.
- Very Dense forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density of 70% and above.
- Moderately dense forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 40% and 70%.
- Open forests: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 10% and 40%.
- Scrubs: All forest lands with poor tree growth mainly of small or stunted trees having canopy density less than 10%.