The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests is implementing a National Afforestation Programme (NAP) for afforestation and eco-restoration of degraded forests and adjoining areas in a participatory mode.
Since the inception of NAP during the 10th five year plan, an area of about 1.8 million ha has been targeted till date by incurring an investment of about rupees 2762 crore.
Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, has stated that in order to improve eco-system services and to gear up afforestation and regeneration of degraded forest tracts, an area of about 10 million ha is envisaged to be tackled under Green India Mission (GIM) during 12th and 13th Five Year Plan period.
The 12th five year plan outlay of NAP has proposed funds to the tune of rupees 10,000 crore against the outlay of rupees 2000 crore during the 11thfive year plan. In addition, the various state governments are also implementing schemes for improvement of degraded forests by utilizing state funds and externally aided projects.
The Forest Report, 2011
As per the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2011, the Forest and Tree Cover of the country is 23.81% of the geographical area of the country. The forest cover of the country has registered a marginal decline of 0.05% as compared to the previous assessment published in ISFR 2009.
India's Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, stated in Rajya Sabha on 27th March that in the ISFR, the forests are classified into three categories such as Very Dense Forest (VDF), Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) and Open Forests not as degraded forests.
The area covered by Very Dense Forests (VDF) is 83,471 km2(2.54%), that with Moderately Dense Forests (MDF) is 320,736 km2(9.76%) and Open Forests is 287,820 km2 (8.75%).
She said forests are defined legally in accordance to the provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927, such as Reserve Forests, Protected Forests and Village Forests.
The Minister, however, clarified that the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has extended the scope of forest and “forest” must be understood according to its dictionary meaning. This description cover all statutorily recognized forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise, including any area recorded as forest in the Government records irrespective of the ownership, for the purpose of Section 2 (i) of the Forest Conservation Act.
In India State of Forest Report, the different categories of forests are defined for assessment of forest cover on the basis of tree canopy density which are as follows:
· Very Dense Forests: All lands with tree canopy density of 70% and above
· Moderately Dense Forests: All lands with tree canopy density between 40% and 70%
· Open Forests: All land with tree canopy density between 10% - 40%