With an increase in forest cover by 990.40 sq. km, Andhra Pradesh emerged second among States in the country in terms of increase in green cover.
According to the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2019 released by the Forest Survey of India on Monday, “the rise in the forest cover is attributed to better conservation measures, protection, afforestation activities, and tree plantation drives”.
Karnataka witnessed the highest increase of the forest cover (1,025 sq.km), while Kerala saw an increase of 823 sq. km, Jammu & Kashmir (371 sq. km) and Himachal Pradesh (334 sq. km).
17.88% of geographical area
The report says: “The total forest cover recorded in Andhra Pradesh is 29,137.40 sq. km which constitutes 17.88% of the total geographical area. The State has Very Dense Forest Cover spread over 1,994.22 sq.km; 13,938.36 sq. km of Moderate Dense Forest Cover and 13,204.82 sq. km of Open Forest.”
A whopping 7,311.8 sq.km of forest cover is being protected in the three national parks and 13 wildlife sanctuaries across the State. In Andhra Pradesh, an area of 3,474 hectares of forest cover has been diverted for non-forestry purposes under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 since 2015.
As much as 268.10 sq. km of forest cover was increased in East Godavari district since 2017. According to the ISFR 2019, the district has 4,994.10 sq. km of forest, including the State’s highest of Very Dense Forest cover spread over 1,103.72 sq. km. Krishna district witnessed an increase of 167.18 sq. km in the last two years.
Recorded Forest Area
The total recorded forest area across the State is 37,258 sq. km, comprising Reserve Forest (31,959 sq. km), Protected (5,069 sq.km) and Unclassed (230 sq.km). Andhra Pradesh has the four major biotic provinces — Deccan Plateau with shrub vegetation, Central plateau, Eastern Highland with dense tropical forest and the East coastal plains.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Forest Resources) V. Bhaskara Ramana Murthy said: “The record rise in the forest cover in the State speaks of the culmination of positive efforts by the department as well as the public (local communities)”.