Aarti Dhar

Forest cover remains unchanged in 12 reserves, increases in 5

Major loss in forest cover found in Nameri, Buxa, Manas, Indravati and Dampa Tiger ReservesAttributed to socio-economic reasons and natural disastersLoss in the outer surround more than loss within the reserves

NEW DELHI:There has been a decrease in forest cover in 11 of the 28 tiger reserves in the country while 5 reserves have shown an increase in the same. The forest cover in the remaining 12 has remained unchanged, according to a report brought out by the Forest Survey of India and Directorate of Project Tiger.

Titled "Forest Cover in Tiger Reserves of India Status and Changes,'' the report says that moderately dense forest has decreased by 251 square kilometres while very dense and open forests in these reserves have shown an increase of 33 sq km and 124 sq km respectively between 1997 and 2002. The major loss in forest cover has occurred in Nameri, Buxa, Manas, Indravati and Dampa Tiger Reserves, primarily due to socio-economic reasons and natural disasters.

Forest cover in the outer surround (10 km radial distance from the periphery) has decreased in 21 tiger reserves, increased in 21 reserves and is unchanged in five.

The total forest cover in the outer surround of the 28 tiger reserves has decreased by 124 sq km, according to the report.

The decrease in forest cover has been significant in Nameri, Buxa, Indravati, Manas and Dampa (45 sq km, 22 sq km, 11 sq km, 11 sq km and 7 sq km respectively) while the remaining six have shown a marginal decrease of 1 to 4 sq km only. These include Bandipur-Nagarhole, Dudhwa-Katarniaghat, Kanha, Pakhui, Palamu and Sunderbans.

As for the tiger reserves gaining forest cover, Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam, Namdapha and Valmiki have registered an increase between 1997 and 2002. Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam has shown a maximum increase of 7 sq km, followed by Namdapha (3 sq km) and Valmiki (2 sq km).