Why It Matters | India lost 668,400 ha of forest cover in the last 30 years

India clocked in the second highest rate of deforestation among countries worldwide between 1990 and 2020.

March 21, 2023 03:42 pm | Updated October 20, 2023 02:05 pm IST

India clocked the second highest rate of deforestation among the world’s countries between 1990 and 2020.

India clocked the second highest rate of deforestation among the world’s countries between 1990 and 2020. | Photo Credit: Kumar K Murali

What are the facts? India ranked the second highest for the rate of deforestation after losing 668,400 hectares of forest cover in the last 30 years, a report by UK-based Utility Bidder said. Brazil and Indonesia clocked in at first and third respectively with Brazil recording 1,695,700 hectares and Indonesia recording 650,000 hectares of deforestation. India also topped the chart for biggest increase in deforestation between 1990 and 2020 with a difference of 284,400 hectares in forestry loss.

What is the context?

  • The study highlighted the trend of deforestation of 98 countries with data collated from 1990 to 2000 and from 2015 to 2020 by Our World In Data, an online data repository.
  • India’s deforestation rose from 384,000 hectares between 1990 and 2000 to 668,400 hectares between 2015 and 2020, Down to Earth noted.
  • India plans to restore 20 million hectares of its forest cover by 2030. 

Also Read | Is India’s forest cover really increasing? Official maps don’t tell you the whole truth

Why does it matter?

  • The biggest contributor to increased deforestation is climate change, with 10 million hectares of land getting affected every year.
  • Brazil has lost 1,695,700 hectares of forests between 2015 and 2020, with climate change throwing rainfall and temperature off balance, affecting their growth.
  • In India, the study blamed pressures due to expanding human settlements: “As the country with the second largest population in the world, India has had to compensate for the increase in residents – this has come at a cost in the way of deforestation.”
  • An annual destruction of 2,105,753 hectares has been attributed to cattle, the agricultural product “most responsible for deforestation.”
  • This is followed by oilseeds – particularly palm oil in Indonesia – and forestry logging which has caused 950,609 and 678,744 hectares of deforestation respectively. 
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