Sunday, March 18, 2007

Punjab has lowest forest cover

The forest cover in Punjab is less than the desert state of Rajasthan that has 4.62 per cent of its total area under forests. In Punjab it is 3.14 per cent of the total area. As per the latest report of the Forest Survey of India (FSI), the dense forest cover in Punjab has decreased by whopping 80,600 hectares. The vested interests cleverly concealed the figures that reveal the real picture of the state of the forests in Punjab.
The worst affected districts in terms of forest cover depletion are: Ferozpur that has witnessed 111 per cent depletion, Amritsar 106 per cent, Hoshiarpur 84 per cent, Bathinda 76 per cent, Gurdaspur 21 per cent and Ludhiana 55 per cent during the period extending from 2001 to 2003. Hoshiarpur district comprised of 22 per cent of the total state forest cover as per the 2001 forest survey report. However, in just two years the percentage of forest in the district has gone down to 18 percent. The dense forest areas in Hoshiarpur have gone down by 51 sq km. INTERESTINGLY, on the World Environment Day, 2005,the Department of Forests, publicized in leading newspapers, claiming that the forest cover in the state increased from 1,387 sq km in 1997 to 1,580 sq km in 2003.
However, the department deliberately concealed the figures as regards the forest cover in 2001. As per the Forest Survey of India report, the forest cover in the state in 2001 was 2,432 sq km. It included 1,549 sq km dense forest cover and 883 sq km open forest cover.
Another interesting fact available from the data is that the entire forest that has vanished formed the dense forest cover. The dense forest cover in the state reduced from 1,549 sq km in 2001 to just 743 sq km in 2003. The open forest cover remained almost the same at 837 km. The forest cover loss in the state was also the highest in the country. It was even more than Madhya Pradesh, the biggest state of the country in terms of geographical area. (The figures have been quoted from the latest Forest Survey of India report published in 2005).
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