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India’s Tree Cover Loss Since 2000: Insights from Global Forest Watch

The Global Forest Watch reveals that India has experienced significant tree cover loss since 2000, totaling 2.33 million hectares. This loss includes both natural disturbances and human-induced factors, impacting the country’s carbon balance and climate change.

Tree Cover Loss Trends

Between 2000 and 2023, India witnessed a 6% decrease in tree cover, with 4,14,000 hectares of humid primary forest lost, comprising 18% of the total tree cover loss during this period.

Carbon Balance

Forests in India emitted 51 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually between 2001 and 2022, while removing 141 million tons annually, resulting in a net carbon sink of 89.9 million tons per year.

Causes of Tree Cover Loss

Tree cover loss includes human-caused activities like deforestation, logging, fire, disease, and natural disturbances such as storms. 95% of tree cover loss in India from 2013 to 2023 occurred within natural forests.

Regional Patterns

Five states accounted for 60% of all tree cover loss from 2001 to 2023: Assam, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur. Assam experienced the highest loss at 324,000 hectares.

Fire Incidents

India lost 35,900 hectares of tree cover due to fires between 2002 and 2022, with Odisha having the highest average loss per year at 238 hectares.

Challenges in Measurement

The Global Forest Watch uses tree cover as a metric for monitoring forest change due to its accessibility via satellite imagery. However, tree cover loss doesn’t always indicate deforestation, and forest extent monitoring faces technical challenges due to land use considerations.

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